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Saturday, January 5, 2019

Shall We Dance?




Multiple messages were piling up, unread, in my Messenger inbox. I rarely check that file, so by the time I finally saw them, they were at least two weeks old. I almost missed my chance to be part of something really fun.
I was a little put off by the first message I read: “Hi Diana. Our mutual friend (Samantha!) suggested I contact you regarding an event for the Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau. Can you please call my cell when you have a moment?”
Hmm. How ominous. The second message was not much better: “Hi Diana…I know I am trying to reach you at a busy time of year; we all have so much on the go. I was wondering if you might find a few minutes to call my cell this weekend…?”
I’m lucky the poor woman didn’t give up on me. She was only trying to recruit volunteers to take part in the 8th Annual Dancing Stars of Leeds Grenville. I guess our friend Samantha told her I rarely turn down an opportunity to dance – or to help out a local charity, when asked. And my mother always said, if someone gets up the courage to ask you to dance, you say yes! But of course this isn’t exactly what she was referring to.
I have always been a dancer, in my own mind. When I was a little girl growing up on George Street in Kemptville, my sister and I (and a handful of neighbourhood kids) used to put on front lawn ‘shows’ for the grownups and any passing cars. These were mostly our own version of freestyle interpretive dance, set to whatever song happened to be blaring from my father’s radio. We had to be good, and fast, putting all of our best moves in a short 3-minute song, in order to keep the adult audience’s attention. Dad would laugh, shake his head after a few minutes, butt out his Export Plain and head back into the house.
As a young teenager, my best friend Stephanie and I choreographed elaborate dances to mix tapes that we created by running to the radio and pressing the ‘record’ button as soon as we heard the first strains of our favourite songs. Each tune was missing the first few bars, sometimes more, depending on the distance we had to run to get to the radio. Occasionally we actually got to perform some of these dances for a ‘real’ audience, at a summer camp talent night or a school variety show. I seem to remember playing the part of one of the Pointer Sisters (Neutron Dance), along with a shoulder-padded Janet Jackson (Yes, I did “Nasty Boy.” Not my finest hour).
As the years went on and I had children of my own, I hosted a “daily dance hour” where we would turn up the radio and rock out to our own reflections in the big bay window. Again I suspect we entertained neighbours who were out walking their dogs, my 3 little girls and I. It was a great way to tire them out before bed, while waiting for Daddy to come home.
Throughout my life, I rarely missed an opportunity to dance. I would be first on the floor and last to leave when the ugly lights came on.  
On two separate occasions, I had organized dance lessons. At the age of eight, I was a ballet student at a class held in the old Leslie Hall. I just remember feeling extremely awkward, eternally inflexible, and completely intimidated by the instructor, who seemed to really hate her job. I didn’t last long.
Flash forward to 2016, and I was a dance student again – this time at The Workshop Dance Studio in Kemptville. I walked in wanting to learn some sort of clogging or step dancing – but Nancy talked me into trying tap. Lemme tell ya – it’s harder than it looks! Life got busy and I didn’t get to continue with those classes either, but it would appear that I have been given another chance.
I have been paired up with Robert Noseworthy of Westerra Homes (and the Kemptville District Hospital Foundation) to ‘compete’ in this light-hearted dance contest. The audience will cast their votes with loonies (because let’s face it, we’re all a little loony), and the Volunteer Centre will benefit from the fundraising and exposure.
We will be rehearsing once or twice a week for the next two months, with our performance on March 1st. At the very least, it should be a heck of a lot of fun.
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