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The first dancing lesson I ever took was when I was three years old. There was a large class with many kids and I remember it felt crowded. I had a small round suitcase for my tap shoes and ballet slippers and loved carrying it around.
Shortly after that, my mom found a different dancing school called Dougherty Sister’s. Miss Mary was my teacher and I just loved her. She was an older lady, kind of like a grandmother type. She wore dresses and Mary Jane tap shoes with heels. She told me I could wear shoes like that someday.
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Miss Mary would show the class a step and I would do it and then sit down and wait for the rest of the little girls to learn it. That lasted almost three years until I was seven years old. Miss Mary talked with my mother and convinced her to let me take private lessons. Was that ever great. Learning all kinds of new dance steps.
My first solo dance at the yearly recital was singing and tap dancing to “Let Me Entertain You” from the Broadway play, “Gypsy” that came out in 1962. I didn’t understand back then why adults laughed and thought it was so cute. I thought the song was performed by Baby June in the theater. It wasn’t until I saw the feature film that I understood the joke. It also made me a little sad as well.
For a number of years until I was almost 13 years old, I continued to studying with Miss Mary. She eventually talked to my mom again and told her that I was ready to take lessons from someone with deeper experience. For a while, I did take lessons from another dance instructor, a man whose studio was a long drive away and mom had to take me each week. For some reason, I really did not like taking lessons from him.
Learning to dance and how to move is one of the most exquisite lessons of my life because it taught me expression through music and percussion. Being able to interpret the feelings that come from different types of music and translating them into fluid movement have been one of rare times when I felt in tune with soul – my own and that of the universe. I miss dancing; sometimes more so than others. One of my dreams was to have a dance studio with a hardwood floor in my home. Large brass ballet barre and mirror. To put on music and dance whenever I needed to and/or felt like it.