I can’t deny that I’ve kept myself pretty busy these past two years. Maybe I didn’t do as much writing or mountain biking or knitting as I’d hoped, but I’ve certainly had a lot of fun in other arenas. Nevertheless, something’s been nagging at me. Dance has always been a very important part of my life – I started ballet at the age of 8 and took jazz dance through high school and college. The last time I took a formal class was in grad school nearly ten years ago, but my attempts to find a decent dance school for adults in my corner of southeast
Last week I looked up the
There’s no time like the present, as they say, so this evening I hopped in John’s car (to make use of the navi) and headed to Feuerbach. I spent some time working out what I wanted to say beforehand. John said they probably would speak English but I really wanted to do it in German. It turns out to be really easy to get to the school – I simply drove along the ridge road that separates Botnang from
The front door of the rather dilapidated post-war concrete-and-glass building housing the
I felt like I was on a movie set. This was nothing like the small dance schools I had attended in
There were fifteen or twenty people in the class, all women, ranging in age from about 15 to 50. One girl who stood in the front of the room was very thin and wearing lots of eye makeup, which she kept checking out in the mirror. I know the type – they think they’re hot stuff, but I could tell that she hadn’t had a lot of ballet training because her movements were all gangly. When the class began, I knew I had made a wise decision in coming today, because Marilena was teaching them an all-new warm-up to start out the fall season. This was something I had been very nervous about, because it’s very difficult to learn a new warm-up when everyone else in the class has it memorized. I generally liked her music choices – funky, good beats, and, thank goodness, no hip-hop! I hate hip-hop music, and I hate dancing to it even more. Marilena’s style is classic jazz leaning towards modern with lots of long, smooth movements. As I watched, I realized that the warm-up was much more complicated and faster-moving than anything I’d done before. It would be tough. I also realized that I would be seriously sore after my first class. I’m confident that my body can do most of the moves, but I haven’t done any of this in years and I will have to take it slow. I didn’t have any trouble following what Marilena was saying – she spoke about 75% German and 25% English. Since dancers often travel to other countries in search of work, I’m sure they consider speaking English to be part of their repertoire. I even got some of Marilena’s jokes.
I especially liked Marilena’s floor warm-up, which was slower-paced with plenty of good stretches. Some of the women in the class were pretty flexible but plenty of them couldn’t do the splits. No problem there – in a few weeks I should have my flexibility back. When it came time to go across the floor, everyone went to the sides of the room to put on their shoes. I was glad to see that a few people had old-school suede-soled jazz shoes like mine, but most of them had these really clunky-looking shoes with split rubber soles. I didn’t like the looks of them because I like to be able to really point my toes. Marilena started them out with a couple of series across the floor that were all very familiar – yes, I can do this! She scolded when some of the students struggled to do a double pirouette – that’s OK, I can do a double pirouette in my sleep! “This is Jazz I,” she said in English, “Not beginner. You have to be able to do a double pirouette in Jazz I.” I figured I would fall in the middle somewhere in terms of skill level. Marilena yelled at people a couple of times for not showing enough energy or looking at the ground – a sort of tough love approach, which I can respect. Her combination at the end of class was pretty scary – an odd six-beat rhythm and very fast, but I liked the moves. I never felt the need to go watch the GK/I class, and even though I know this class is going to be a serious challenge, I think I’m up for it.
When the class ended at 8:45, I went over and introduced myself. I started in German but said I was American and Marilena immediately told me to speak English. It turns out she studied at UCLA so I told her I went to UC San Diego. She asked me what I was doing here and I explained my situation. I told her about my dance background and that I would only be here another three months, but that I really wanted to start dancing again. She said it was a good time to start, but warned me that the class would get tougher over the coming weeks. I said that was okay, that I was looking for a challenge. Best of all, Marilena teaches the same class on Wednesdays from 5:30-7:00, which is a better time since it won’t conflict with the IWC dinners. I told her I would be there tomorrow!