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tap is the geek of the dance world

One could say that tap is the geek of the dance world. The children learn the names of their great grandparent’s heroes: Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Bunny Briggs and Ernest Brownie Brown. There is no hip hop sneer, no gratuitous jazzy pelvis thrust, no solemn Brisé volé. It’s generally smiles smiles smiles and often suspenders and funny caps and adorable little flouncy skirts that all harken back to an earlier more innocent time. And I love it that my girl loves it.IMG_3436

I watch the rehearsal. This is her first year in competitive tap. This is her first year wearing all that make up. She’s gone from grade one to grade four in less than a year. She tippity taps down grocery store aisles, along the sidewalk, at the dinner table. It makes me anxious hearing those little ardent footsteps clickity clack, as though someone is constantly knocking on my door. But I breathe breathe breathe and remember it’s good for her to practice making music with her feet.

Man, the kids are good here at the Tap Society on Hastings Street. It’s a great way to get through the awkward stage. I watch the girl with thick braces and spots kick up her heels and swing her tubular white white limbs with glee. I watch the undersized tiny Tim take the stage; he grabs his apple box and bangs it into submission with his feet. I watch the big girl with thick horsy hips move so light on her feet, her lips pursed into an oblivious kiss as she swishes so delicious, so cheekily. I am curious when a shy plodding doughy boy shuffles in. He is already well cast in Death of a Salesman, defeated and sporting unwanted breasts. But as soon as it is his turn to dance, he transforms into a suave confident ladies man with shiny sharp shoes and perfect timing. The girls he gets to dance with beam at him, BEAM. Who knew this would be the place to pick up chicks?

My little one is in a group number and I’m impressed with how complex it is. She smiles, right on the money and right on the beat, moving those skinny long legs and those pointy narrow feet. She’s worked hard to accelerate and her teacher whispers to me, “I don’t know if I’ve ever come across a student who practices so much on her own.” And then the head teacher passes me and slows down to give a sotto secret message, “she’s very good, she has a presence. She should do a solo next year.” I smile. I don’t think they’re just trying to sell solo lessons. I think they might be a little bit right.

I watch her on this night of confidence. And what a relief. Because the rest of the year has been frustration and tears over endless hours of homework and disappointing report cards and social isolation. There are only four grade 5s in her grade 6 class and none of them are her friends. The popular girls are called the “divas” and she is not one of them. She’s in with the bully and two other girls who chum together and ignore her. So, she gets lumped in with Alice. Alice is older and yet far behind. She is an extremely shy girl who comes to school with lice sometimes and doesn’t always live with her substance abusing mother. Nora says, “I’m glad we have each other. She’s actually starting to talk to me now. It’s been a couple of months we’ve been partners in gym class…”

So, maybe tap is the geek of the dance world. They make a joyful noise. They create percussion with their feet and they don’t even need music, they just need a street. And I’m glad my daughter chose it simply because it gives her joy. And we all know that the awkward stage passes. The spots go away. The braces come off. The thick glasses get replaced. The wild hair gets tamed. And that’s when the tables turn and the geeks take over the world.

And in the meantime, these kids learn that handwork pays off. They learn humility. They learn they can’t get by on just being the right kind of sassy. They learn to do what they love because you’ll never please everyone anyway. And I’d say that’s a great education. These lessons are priceless. It’s not about Broadway.

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3 comments

  1. Cheryl

    this one made me cray, Cia. Love it, love Nora, Love you. And we geeks have indeed taken over the world…

    1. Lucia Frangione

      xo beauty!

  2. Lynda Hamer

    This makes me wonder if we are all geeks when looking out from our inner most being. I am not sure, but count me in as a geek. The long journey to our self is a never-ending- those ‘spots’ still plague me.

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