When I was little, I would spends hours dancing in my room, choreographing moves to "A Tisket, A Tasket" and "Have you ever seen a Lassie?" In first grade, I completed my first (and last) dance recital--a tap dance to "Deep in the Heart of Texas." (My dad taped over the recital with a Bills Game-one that he actually attended, but a game he wanted to re-watch when he came home....this a different blog entry.)
In elementary school, I would boss my friends around, barking out the proper moves to "I saw the Sign" or any one of the Disney Showtunes. In high school, the trend continued-- in two of the talent shows my friends and I choreograped dances to "You Don't Own Me" and Jackson's 5, "I want you back." Though most people in the talent show strummed their guitars or read poetry, we found joy (and talent?) in lipsynching and jumping off chairs.
The first week of college, I naively tried out for the hip-hop team. For purposes of not reliving that humiliating 5 hours, I will simply state that trying to mimic Julia Stiles' dance moves from Save the Last Dance during the individualized dance portion of the tryout will simply not cut it, particularly when everyone else in the tryout can (1) breakdance; (2) Harlem shake; or (3) perform the full rendition to Michael Jackson's Thriller. Needless to say...I didn't get a call back.
Despite this setback, my friends and I, even in college, loved to make up dances. Prior to going out at night, I'd spend time in my room, bee-bopping around, getting ready, and practicing "new moves" in front of the mirror (and by "new moves" I mean the latest moves I saw someone cooler than me perform). My friends and I mastered the Jump Rope dance, mimicked Destiny's Child music video, and encouraged dance offs at every party.
And then one day, the music stopped. Not literally, of course, but at some point in my life, I stopped dancing in front of the mirror. I would dance at parties, at family reunions, and at weddings, but I no longer came home at the end of the day, changed into sweats, blasted some tunes, and shook my bootie to the newest jams. What happened?
I am not sure if we have a "maturity" nerve in our body or if it's a voice in our head that society has implanted, but at some subtle point in the past few years, I think when the thought of dancing in my room crossed my mind, I heard a whisper, "too old for that." The sad part is that I listened. It wasn't until this summer that something small re-awakened inside of me. After taking the Bar, I went to see Shanti, an Indian reflexologist and a healer, to help fix my study aches and pains. When I sat down in his chair, he looked me straight in the eye, leaned in, and said, "you have music your soul." I quickly admitted, "Ohh...well, I am a horrrible singer." (My sister and brother will admit I ruin every song on the radio due to my improvisations). Shanti smiled and responded, "I didn't say you a were good singer, no, I didn't. But you have music in your soul."
I don't think Shanti told me this because he knew I listened to the music; Shanti told me this because he could see I wasn't listening to it. We all have music in our soul, it is just a matter of whether we dance to it. As I get older, I cease to tap into my endless supply of internal rhythms. While it occasionally bursts out when I am driving alone in the car or attending a concert, the rhythms usually remain repressed until an "appropriate time."
Last night,the time was "appropriate." My mom and I went to see Fela, a broadway play that chronicles the Nigerian revolutionary, singer, and pioneer of Afrobeat. It. was. amazing. The drum beat penetrated the soul, the lights and colors made me dizzy, the dancing was disciplined chaos. Throughout the play, I kept thinking, "I'm going to buy this cd...and, without shame, dance in front of the mirror."
And so today, for the first time in a while, I am going to dance to the music in my soul.