Brand building through storytelling

Discovering my inner dancer

Once upon a time, when I played with paper dolls and wore Mary Janes, I wanted to be a ballerina. I thought I was the star of my Saturday morning ballet class, pirouetting with more enthusiasm than grace. I didn’t know that my short waist, knock knees and crooked spine disqualified me from the tutu’d elite. When I danced, I felt beautiful. I didn’t need the pink net skirt and plastic garland that I only got to wear on recital day. I didn’t need to wear any clothes at all. Sometimes I’d hear my parents playing Vivaldi for their guests, and into the living room I’d burst, straight from the bathtub, dancing.

By age 12 I had figured out the truth. I was not an especially graceful child, let alone a beauty. I learned to suck in my stomach while passing a mirror, just like my mother. I learned that my body was a billowy, disreputable thing to be concealed with “slimming” clothes (solid colors, no waist). I learned from Seventeen that a girl didn’t have to be able to move as long as she could feign interest in the mysterious enthusiasms of boys. Slow dancing, a ritual known only to the desirable, was not really dancing at all, just a heavy-footed shuffle, your head on his shoulder.

For the next 20 years or so, I forgot the sensation of moving. When I finally joined my first gym, at 36, it was only to whip my thighs into shape for swimsuit weather. I came to like the soothing rhythm of my feet pounding a track, and the sweaty glow that follows a hard weight-training session, but it didn’t seem possible that beauty could touch any movement of mine. I was moving strictly to prevent decay, or at least hold it off a little longer. How earnestly, doggedly I moved—five workouts a week, no matter what.

MiriamThis past fall I got tired of pumping away on the elliptical machine just as my current gym, at Verity Women’s Club, launched a Saturday morning class with the intriguing name “Flow Motion Fitness.” Why not give it a shot? Lo and behold, Flow Motion is mostly dance, with some added punch from martial arts and strength work for good measure. You couldn’t sell this melange as “dance”—most of us women don’t believe we can dance. “I’m not coordinated,” we say. Or “I trip all over myself.” So I have to hand it to the agile and intrepid Miriam Schacter, who created this class and others like it around Toronto (and is shown here demonstrating one one of her funkier moves). She’s bringing out the dancer in us real-bodied, middle-aged women.

The first few Saturdays, I mostly watched Miriam shimmy and shake with inspirational abandon. How did she manage to get three movements going at once—hips, shoulders and, for God’s sake, head? “Look at her go,” I’d think to myself. Then I started to notice the rest of our group. We may not have the power or aplomb that Miriam does in this photo, but no two ways about it, we’re dancing. So what if we trip over our feet now and then? It’s okay. Having real bellies is okay, too—Miriam tells us to feel them and breathe through them instead of just wishing them away.

There’s just one problem with this class: it’s become so popular, it’s bursting at the seams.Yet we’re a light-hearted crew, and ever lighter on our feet. I, for one, am a long way from bobbling my head while making separate circles with my shoulders and hips. But hey, I’ve only just reconnected with my long-forgotten inner dancer. Look at me go.

Posted by Rona

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