Tuesday, June 03, 2008

All that jazz

A couple of months ago, I decided I needed a break from my routine weekly fitness classes. I scoured the ever dependable community center's activities guide for a class different from my usual ones. And there it was - "Broadway Jazz". Get fit in a fun way, it urged. Tada!

I signed up with great enthusiasm - a fitness class incorporating dance moves should be fun! On D-day, I landed up in class in my track-pants and tennis shoes, towel and water-bottle in hand. Once inside the class, something struck me as being different about me.

It soon became obvious. Of the total of nine participants, I was the only one wearing tennis shoes. Everyone else was wearing dance shoes. Huh!?! Wasn't this a fitness class?

Soon after I made this observation, the instructor turned on some music and did a whole series of ballet-like moves rapidly one after the other. Then she stopped, turned around and told us to do all of these moves as a warm up exercise. Everyone else plunged into doing the moves. I picked my fallen jaw off the floor, gaped some more and hurried to copy everyone else's moves.

That was when it struck me - I had managed to join a dance class incorporating, duh, dance moves. Oh no. I mean, I have been to salsa classes before, but there at least I knew I was going to dance. Besides, was jazz even a kind of dance?

And then, to rub salt onto my stupid presumptions, I discovered that every other participant in the class except yours truly had been at least to one dance class under the same teacher before. Oh dear.

The rest of the warm-up session reminded me of comedians from various movies. You know, where everyone is doing something and the comedian alone is doing a whole different thing? Where the comedian then rushes to catch up and invariably winds up bungling?

Yeah - I was that comedian. Everyone else would have already pirouetted half way across the room by the time I realized what the move was. I would rush to catch up. And then when everyone had finished the move and were facing the front of the class, I would be the odd woman still in the middle of the move facing the back of the class. Normally, I would have fervently prayed for the ground to swallow me up at that point. But for some reason, that particular day, I just found it all very funny and simply grinned.

The warm-up concluded with abs-crunches (ha, finally something I am damn good at) and other floor exercises - all familiar territory, restoring my confidence a bit. The teacher then told us that we would be dancing for "All that Jazz" from the Broadway musical Chicago.

She went over the steps slowly - we tried to follow her. Though I caught on to some of the steps, I was still floundering. She then said she would turn on the music so we could all dance to it. Right - even with no music I danced more or less like a particularly drunk crab with arms!

She turned on the music. And a strange thing happened. After ages of looking and acting like a person grinning in spite of a stomach ache, I started enjoying myself. It was just so much fun to dance to the music - the moves just seemed to fit seamlessly with the music. And who cared if I sometimes tapped my left foot first instead of my right and vice versa - it was still so much fun!

The rest of the class went off in a flurry of dancing like a star (yup, turns out that dances in musicals most often are Jazz dances).

That's how at the end of the class, much to my own surprise, I decided to stick with it for the entire duration*. My instructor was a sweet lady who said that if I came a bit earlier to class, she would go over steps with me beforehand. This helped quite a bit with complicated steps.

At the end of two months, I had learnt quite a bit about ball changes, pirouettes, jazz walks and touch steps. More than that, I had learnt how it is possible to have fun even while doing something you so superbly suck at :-)!

* I guess I was not the only one surprised at my decision to stick with the class. At the end of the 8-week session, my teacher hugged me and said she was so glad that I had decided to stick it with. It is an entirely different matter that she looked like she was going to get a heart attack when I told her that I might continue classes with her for the next session ;-)**.

**I have not yet done that.


rads said...

hahaha :) Dance is always fun, brings a smile however and whatever the genre.

Miss you around. :)

Joy said...

I learnt jazz few years back. When I told my cousin, who is a semi-professional jazz music trumpet player, he was surprised as well learning there is a form of dance called jazz. It is nice and fun.

How's the book: Gentlemen of the road?

J said...

Wow, I love dancing..We had dance classes once in a while during our aerobics time. I love aerobics, step classes which we do with music rather than working on machines.

Great, Archana. Inspiring! I happened to see couple of dance oriented English movies recently and dancers elaam evlo flexible'a irukaangha. fitness is important and flexibility kooda la. toes'la balance pani nikarathu elaam panriya ippo nee?

LOL @ * note :))

A-kay said...

That was funny :) I tried to attend a Latin-dance based class in my gym and it turned out to be, yes, Jazz dance class - it was fun though, but of course, I love dancing of any kind.

Divya said...

This is what is happening with me and kickboxing. I constantly look like I'm trying my best to dislocate my limbs and trying to be graceful about it. Not working yet. But yes, it is fun :)

Shilpa said...

LOL...nice ! Hey you should try out for ' So you think you can dance' !

Archana said...

Rads - thats so true. I love to dance (at least that's what I call it ;-))!

Joy - Oh wow :-) - what did you dance to? The book is okay - am not finding it as good as the Kavalier and Clay book (which was the book that attracted me to Michael Chabon in the first place)

J - enna nakkala? Toes-la balance panreinnaama - lol :-)! No such thing pa - I just managed to learn to twirl and pirouette without falling off sideways :-)!

A-kay - oooh, I have been to one of those latin-dance based class too - but that was more of the fitnessy type - which is why I got fooled about this other thing too :-). And ooh, another dance lover :-)!

Divya - Hhehehe - lol :-D!

Shilpa - amaam ya, enna ellarukkum free entertainment-aa?

Anita said...

wow. too cool boss!! am very impressed.

Archana said...

Sindu - adi paavi, edho pudhusa kadhai keikara maadhiri "too cool" sollura!!

Keegan said...

I learnt salsa dance through an online website teaching salsa through video classes.The method of teaching is awesome and also another advantage is that we can learn when time permits us.