About 30 years ago, maybe a little more, I sat in a room with a bunch of other teenagers putting on thick makeup, a top hat and tails, white gloves. I was nervous, because I was the very first opening for the production of 42nd St. Kabuki, an adaptation of the classic musical with a Japanese-style twist as concieved by the brilliant mind of my high school drama teacher, Eugene Olson (may he rest in peace).
Gang Aft Agley
It wasn't quite the straightforward path I'd expected. Sure, I was a dancing fool throughout high school, and even during a semester at Brigham Young University. Then my life took a very different tack: a child, the Marine Corps, marriage, more children. Knee injuries, divorce…the idea of being a dancer seemed to fade more and more with every year.
In spite of it I kept my hand in. Community theater (somewhere there's a picture of me doing a truly spectacular leap in Finian's Rainbow), serving as “Deputy Dance Minister in Charge of Left and Right” for my local SCA group. When I went back to school I tried to be smart, I did – but the theatre seduced me and I graduated with a Dance degree of all things. I reached the point of semi-pro: getting paid to be a dancer in the chorus of some summer stock companies, even with a few solos and features.
But did my love of dance look the way I'd expected or hoped it to? Not hardly. I learned to appreciate the involvement anyway, and took the movement arts into my own current job path, teaching workshops to cosplayers and role-playing enthusiasts and aerialists and burlesque dancers and combat re-enactors and anyone else who wants to learn. You have as much choreography in John Wick as you do in Burlesque, after all…
That Sweet Ache
And last night, thirty years after the curtain went up on me in the high school auditorium, I performed as “the Fishmonger” at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum opening of their Seduction exhibit. There were traditional Japanese theatre arts there right alongside neo-burlesque and poets and musicians and modern dancers. 2500 people paid to come to the opening, and we entertained them for four hours of environmental and traditional stage performance.
Today I am sore, tired, and jubilant. My love of dance and performing looks nothing like I expected it to, back when I was a teen. How could it? Many times I thought my love was hopelessly lost, many times I bitterly cursed it for giving me just a taste before disappearing…but it never really disappeared, did it?
No, it never did. I kept my love of dance with me, whether I was dancing or not, whether I knew it or not. As e.e. cummings would have said it, I carry it in my heart.
I don't know what your love is. I know of people, though, who have loves that they feel are forever lost. I can't say they're wrong…but I think it's not likely. I think that perhaps the most pernicious idea is that love is something we can lose at all. It's not something external; we bring it with us, whether we have time right now to indulge in it or not.
That thing you love? Don't worry. It's not gone. It's right there, in your heart. And when you do get to enjoy it, you will be as sap-happy as I am right now, and possibly write something almost as romantic.
I'll look forward to reading it.