Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A passion rediscovered

In college, I didn't go to a lot of school dances because I was a bit of a nerd studying all the time, but I do remember that when I did go, I had an incredible time and couldn't stop dancing! I even won my dorm's dance contest one year. I have difficulty dancing to techno because it's too fast for me, but I love dancing to hip-hop (and maybe house and funk if I knew exactly what they were). My body just naturally moves well to hip-hop, which I find has a very sensual beat.

Anyways, I haven't gone clubbing since my summer experience in Taiwan ten years ago, and John doesn't seem to show much interest in dancing -- although once we had a fabulous time, just the two of us, dancing in our Berkeley courtyard under the moonlight. So today, ten years later, I took a BodyJam class at the gym which is supposed to be a melange of salsa, hip-hop, disco, funk, and techno. It was a marvelous time!

It was a small class, eight women, versus the twenty-plus faithful attendees of the BodyPump classes. The ladies were all very nice -- more smiley than most French women. These were women who were willing to step out of their comfort zone, have some fun, and burn a bunch of calories at the same time. Women willing to look a bit foolish if they messed up. We're not trying to look good -- just have a good time. I was fortunate enough to have a real dancer, probably another instructor, right in front of me. I don't know why she was participating in the class, but it was nice of her to show her support.

We did several short routines to different music, ranging from hip-hop to salsa to pop. Towards the end we were putting the routines together to make one long one, which challenged our brains. But I just really loved moving my body in a slightly familiar way. Nice to meet you again, body. I had forgotten you had all that in you.

I think I was doing pretty well in the class, keeping up and enjoying myself. I had an advantage over most of the other women because I've had some dance experience -- ballet and jazz. Classical and jazz dance is very different from popular dance, but what you carry over is good balance, an existing repertoire of movement, automatic synchronization between movement and music, and the mental ability to master a choreography. I certainly wasn't perfect, but I think I got more out of the class because I could complete the routines without much difficulty. It's like learning a musical instrument. Once you know all the notes, you can then begin to inject emotion and nuance which is where the real music-making begins.

I will surely take another BodyJam class in the near future, but now I'm thinking of even taking a real hip-hop class somewhere because I felt a real connection to the hip-hop as opposed to the other styles. I do still have a couple passes to the Centre de Danse du Marais and I'm sure they teach hip-hop over there, along with their ballet, modern, jazz, salsa, and yoga classes. Another adventure!

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