The Dancing Hunchback

If you happen to catch a glimpse of me walking down the street, the words Look! It’s Quasimodo! probably won’t be the first to pop into your head. Apparently, however, that won’t be the case if you happen to catch a glimpse of me dancing.

I haven’t actually seen myself dance, but apparently once the music cues and I execute my first cha, I undergo a metamorphosis which takes me from Dancing Housewife to hybrid version of a twerking Niki Minaj and deformed bell ringer of Notre Dame. And if the spectacle of me cutting a rug compels you to blurt out the words Look! It’s Quasimodo, you would be wise to stifle the urge. Count to ten. Bite your tongue if necessary. Whatever works. It’s embarrassing enough already. I certainly don’t need YOU to make things worse.

I’m humble enough not to be super incredulous about my posture deficiency, but I must confess, as a former elite gymnast, I find it odd that I’m struggling as much as I am. Frankly, it inclines me to wonder… am I really THAT bad? I mean, isn’t it possible that all those stroboscopic lights, strategically mounted around the the Dance Tonight Atlanta studio, are causing me to appear more maladroit than I actually am? Apparently not.

Image Courtesy

Image Courtesy

Last week my regular dance coach, Newell DeFreest, and I worked with master dance coach and adjudicator, Kimberley Mitchell. (By the way, Ms. Mitchell is an amazing dancer and fabulous coach and I was lucky to have the opportunity to work with her and I’m not just saying that because she’s a judge). The consensus between the two of them is that I have less than perfect (okay BAD) dance posture. In fact, at times it’s so egregious (Niki Minaj) that it’s grotesque (Quasimodo). I know this is an accurate depiction because Kimberley Mitchell imitated me several times during our training session and it was H-O-R-R-I-F-Y-I-N-G. I actually cringe every time I think about it.

Newell is tenacious about correcting my posture. I know it’s critical for my balance, power and efficiency of movement, but the profound impetus for me is vanity and competitive drive. Ballroom dancing is an aesthetic sport and, thanks to the Kimberley Mitchell-induced flashbacks from which I have been suffering since last week, the current image I have of myself is horrifyingly cringe-worthy. There aren’t enough fishnets, false eyelashes, feather boas or fake tans on the planet to camouflage a woman who lumbers around the dance floor like an ogre in lipstick. My only recourse is to FIX MY POSTURE ISSUES.

Newell is patient as a saint, but I imagine it’s been as frustrating and exhausting for him to repeat his litany of corrections as it is for me to hear them. Day in and day out. Week after week. The same thing. Over and over and over. I must seem stubborn or stupid or possibly both, but for reasons I can’t explain head up, shoulders back, chest out, butt under, blah, blah, blah feels unnatural.

Anyway, just when I thought I couldn’t take another minute of Newell’s harping, I had a breakthrough (predicated by another Kimberley Mitchell flashback). Go figure. Suddenly I managed to whip my body into submission and I did it by simulating a lateral pulldown via holding an imaginary bar attached to an imaginary cable and pulley and (gasp) for a few fleeting moments I embodied correct (perfect actually) dance posture in all its glory! (Cue choirs of angels).

So now I have a pre-dance protocol that works. I simulate a single lateral pulldown with my imaginary bar and voila! Look at me! I am The Dancing Housewife! Look at my perfect posture! I am graceful and delicate and weightless and POOF! Suddenly some insubordinate body part slips out of alignment and I am reduced, once again, to that clumsy, unwieldy, elephantine Dancing Hunchback. I suppose that’s going to happen a lot on this rough road to automaticity. Still, at least for now those few fleeting moments are enough to sustain me. At least I have a plan and I’m still hanging on…  chasing my own mirror ball.

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