Today was a brand new experience for me: my very first lesson in jazz dance, from my friend Sarah, who was sweet enough to come over and spend a couple hours trying to impart some of her skill to me. I say "trying" because there seemed to be some trouble with the reception on my end....
This spring I am rejoining Northwoods Performing Arts, Newport's community theatre, for their June performances; my dad, sister, and I were a part of Northwoods for several extremely happy years during my teens, and I'm having a blast working on a show with them again! One of the pieces in the show we're currently preparing is a fun, jazzy number called "Shine", which is popping with energy and just begging to be accompanied by a showy, Broadway style jazz dancer. My director agrees, and basically told me to come up with the choreography. And this is where my friend Sarah comes in, because she knows jazz dance, and I do not! I figured I can fake my way through it, if I can just get some instruction and help from someone who actually knows what they are doing.
For previous Northwoods shows I've faked my way through an Irish dance, a square dance -- even a saloon dance! The Irish dance was by far the most difficult to pick up, and remembering how many endless hours I put into mastering those energetic high kicks, skips, and jumps, I felt confident in my ability to tackle another new dance style. Well, let me tell you, Irish dance has got nothing on jazz dance. Nothing! (There is the fractional possibility that my evaluation of their respective difficulty levels is affected by the fact that I am wrestling with learning jazz dance a full seven years and three children after I blithely skipped my way into Irish dance bliss. But as I said, that possibility is merely fractional. So much so that we will henceforth discard it.)
Jazz dancing is hard, people. And Sarah shimmies her way through it as naturally as if she's strolling through the park. And she looks absolutely charming and adorable while she does it -- which is really impressive, and makes me want to growl at her a little bit. I tried to follow along and mostly hopped and jerked around the room as if I was swatting at imaginary buzzing insects, directing an incoming plane, and playing hopscotch, all at the same time. She was gracious enough to let me film her demonstrating a lot of the steps and movements, so that perhaps I will be able to slowly improve on my own.
However, my current status of jazz dance expertise was summed up in this little exchange with Ashley after Sarah had left and I was trying to recreate some of the moves she'd shown me.
Ashley: "What are you doing??"
Me: "I'm dancing like Sarah!"
Ashley: "No...you're not.