May 10 by Smitty Miller
I wasn’t born a dancer.
I have the long, gangley limbs of an awkward schoolgirl married with the anxieties of a shut-in. Though I’m often mistaken for the kind of person who will get up and dance, it’s one of the pastimes I prefer our culture had never actually developed so that I could never live to be pressured into the misery of participating in it.
I danced once in elementary school. I had developed a deep-seated complex about having to shower naked in the open with other girls and so to distract everyone’s attention from my conscientious objection, I stood on one of the benches in the locker room and performed a rousing rendition of “Father Cyrus”, which I learned in Christian School. It went on in this hokey-pokey like fashion until all my body parts were involved. It was the dancing highlight of my first decade.
About five years later, I took a real stab at it in high school. It was a pact between a friend and me–we were both very ungraceful and thought taking Modern Dance would be an excellent way to help gain control over our gangley limbs. I remember it taking me several weeks simply to memorize the warm-up routine. I also remember slamming my head off the stage during the final performance. Mostly.
A few years after that, I made one final and last-ditch effort to fall in line with society’s demand that I dance. After knocking out my general education, I transferred to a performing arts conservatory with a nationally-lauded dance program. I was on the acting track and thought it would be prudent to dip my toes in the dancing water to help not embarrass myself in future. I signed up for “Shiamak Davar Dance Class”. We learned basic steps and combinations and had to choreograph a piece and teach it to the class.
I struggled. There was a lot of stepping on toes and attempting to lead, which apparently isn’t permitted by humans with ‘hoo-ha’s’. For my final piece, I choreographed “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and featured a freestyle section where everyone was commanded to channel their inner jungle animal and move through space. It was beautiful. It’s the only assignment on which I got an A.
And also the only assignment for which I didn’t dance.
My least favorite part of being a non-dancing human is weddings. People will always try to get me to dance at weddings. Somewhere along the way, someone told society that if you’re in an environment where other people are dancing and you’re not, you must not be having fun. The reality of the situation is that I’m highly skilled in self-entertainment (as a child I spent a lot of hours sitting in the car alone while my mom ran errands). But because society has been taught that dancing is fun and non-dancers are miserable, it becomes everyone’s personal mission to make non-dancers dance at weddings. As if it’s not humiliating enough to have to scramble for a bouquet of flowers in front of everyone.
I have made two attempts at dancing in the past several years (a new record). The first was at a wedding where my friends pulled me onto the dance floor against my will and gang-danced me into a circular cage until I had to either move or ruin everyone’s fun. And second was on my 19th Birthday where I bumped into my friend and made her fall on my Birthday Cake. But, I guess the times have changed now. After a decade, I’m finally a Dancer. And I love Dancing.
~Anmol Kaur Dhaliwal