This morning on CBS’s Sunday Morning, the theme was St. Patrick’s Day related items. One of the pieces was about the popularity of Irish Step Dancing. Since RiverDance twenty years ago, it went worldwide and became highly competitive.
One of the interviewed teachers opened my eyes to a missed opportunity. Sadly, I can’t take it up now because of Uncle Arthritis in my ankles, knees, hips and back. But back fifty years ago, my mother tired to make me a dancer when I was a toddler because I walked everywhere on my tippy toes. And I loved to spin in circles.
So, mother took me to a ballet class that was full of other little girls like me. We went to the Fine Arts Building on South Michigan Avenue. It was the first time I saw the big green statues of Indian Warriors guarding the Buckingham Fountain. I was fascinated by their bows and feathers that I wanted to walk around them over and over again. We got to the class with minutes to spare.
In a sea of pink leotards, I stuck out like a sore thumb in my yellow bathing suit and homemade white tutu. Mama was not going to invest in fancy stuff until I proved myself. White satin practice shoes were the only thing she couldn’t duplicate, so they were purchased at discount down in the Maxwell Street Market one Sunday after church. In the class, the teacher wanted me to go down on flat feet and learn the positions at the barre. I thought that was boring. I wanted to dance on my toes and spin like a top. And that was what I did, all by myself, in the corner of the room. After a couple of lessons in frustration for me and the teacher, she announced to my mother in her middle European accent that I was NEEVEERR going to be a ballerina. I was going to be too stocky and clumsy (at five years old she could tell?) and far too stubborn (correct on that point lady!).
So, not to be outdone, Mama took me to a tap dance studio in the wilds of Oak Park. In a white shirt, black shorts and the same white satin practice shoes, I was plunked down to learn how to be Shirley Temple coming down the stair case with Bo Jangles. Again, this was not a success.
When the Irish Dance instructor said that to be good at it you needed pointed toes, a good turn out and strong legs. My mind went BINGO! This is where I should have been taken. I would have been perfect! High energy moves on pointed toes, unruly curls bouncing as I dance in circles, what could have been better?
So, as the dancers and the pipers pass by my house, I salute them.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all!