My roommate is preparing for an audition. We met during the production of Hair, the musical, not the drama of cutting hair, which, actually, in retrospect, would have been a wiser career choice. We shared an attic shaped apartment on a sleepy street conveniently close to a main artery leading directly downtown. This roommate relationship would last approximately four or five years. Anna…I will call her, was a smart, vibrant, witty, funny, beautiful, charismatic character with only one very well hidden flaw, she was fucking nuts. Her brand of crazy was well hidden in layers of dramatic character building foreplay that was so well acted out, I think even she began to believe her own fiction. But, this story does not have to do with that relationship, it has to do with a memory she inadvertently uncovered.
“Did you know that even he hated that music.” She says this as she grabs her bag and leaves. She is commenting on my Nut Cracker suite tape I am about to play, by Tchkosysky. She has mentioned this several times to me, almost each time I have played it. She loved to believe, like most talentless academics, that she knows more about an artist then they knew about themselves, because, after all, she was taught this, so it must be true. Unfortunately, from all accounts, if what is written can be believed, there is a grain of truth to this rumour. I didn’t care, I loved it, the music, there are specific parts of the music that bring back the same memory every time, and it’s not a Christmas memory. Oddly enough I didn’t even associate the music with the ballet or even Christmas till later in life. No, this memory is not a seasonal memory, but a memory associated to my infantile fantasy career as a dancer.
Nut Cracker Suite, the Grand Cannon Suite, these were some of the musical flavours that filled our family living room every Friday night. While other boys my age were out fighting invisible dragons I was busy planning my stage career as a ballet dancer.
I’m not sure what drew me to pirouetting flights of fancy. I don’t have any memories of anyone introducing me to the joys of ballet, any well cupped Adonis waxing the virtues of wearing tights. All I knew was when I heard certain types of music, I had to move…in a somewhat disturbing way. Spinning, jumping, twirling, twisting, into positions only a flexible child with a love for gymnastics and a yet to be bruised ego can muster.
It became my after dinner ritual on Friday, I’d move all the furniture aside, pull out the old Nut Cracker, and dance till I was dizzy. My mother was usually in the kitchen doing the dishes and my father, well, I don’t where my father was, probably in the basement…crying.
I do remember my mother suggesting dancing lessons, which my father actively blocked from happening. I guess the idea of going to a recital and beaming that the third child from the left dressed in a sadly revealing pair of tights amongst mostly too-too clad girls was just too much for him to bear. I was already involved in the music festival, thrilling captive parents with my freakishly high voice. I think this already put my father awkward position, explaining that, he has only two daughters…not three. My father was not a macho character, but even the liberal thinking of his generation had its limits.
So, no, dance lessons were not in my future, as a child.
Later in life I would receive, for almost every show, a pair of socks labelled left and right from the choreographer. My inability to move rhythmically was the joke of every show I was in. I would think back each time I received a new pair of socks, back to the dancing fool I was as a child and wonder what could have been. With a few lessons, would my ears now be connected to my feet, would I be able to move unfettered by the nasty habit of over thinking, or, would I still be leaving a trail of frustrated, angry, potentially suicidal dance teachers.
I am no longer in theatre, I no longer threaten to destroy the world of dance with my two left feet, but I still dance, alone, with my ipod, moving in a crazy fucked up way.
I don’t even have to move the furniture out of the way anymore, just my ego.