Dancing

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve left a lot of life’s goodies behind.  “Sure I did this in my 20’s but not anymore.”  To which I say “Why not?”  Take dancing for instance.

Last night woke me up.  I went to hear Angelique Kidjo sing.  She’s a dynamic songstress from Benin in Africa.  She strode out onstage with a huge smile, wearing traditional garb – a red, yellow and white “sari” and a headdress that matched.  I know that “sari” isn’t the right word but it’s all I know.

Angelique belted out all these fast African songs, each with a great beat.  And she danced!  Throwing her head back and zooming all over the stage, arms and legs moving every whichway.  And she was so happy!  I marvelled at the expressions of a full human being.

And then … towards the end of the concert, Angelique invited us all up on the stage to dance with her and her band!  1100 of us.  About 100 human beings took her up on it.  And there I was, boogieing my butt off in close quarters with dancers of all ages (including one 7-year-old girl, a whirl of limbs).  The music blasted, the audience wowed.  I looked out from the stage and took in all of Koerner Hall … such beauty in the walls, on the ceiling, in the seats.  And I too was happy.  I remembered other dancing times and smiled beneath the sweat:

1. Jody and I at an evening street dance in Vieux Fort, a tiny town in St. Lucia. We all were so packed in at that intersection that the only place to move was up and down.  So I bounced!

2. A staff Christmas party at a fancy restaurant in downtown London.  Jody later told me that people stared as I vibrated all body parts at a frantic pace in some skewed version of dancing.

3. Last summer in London’s Victoria Park, I threw everything around with hundreds of others to the music of Five Alarm Funk at Sunfest, our world music festival.  I looked around at a lot of 20-somethings, and precious few 60-somethings.  Too bad for those who missed out.

The truth is … I don’t want to miss out!  I want to dance.  If I’m to be with a lovely woman again, may she love to move and groove.  And if no such blithe spirit comes my way, I’ll dance alone through my remaining years on the planet.

So there.

To Express

Sometimes I think about how much time I spend just sitting in my body, nice and quiet, not doing anything, and how much time I spend putting energy out into the world, reaching towards people, expressing something of value in their direction.  I like both.

Yesterday, I wanted to sit in London’s Victoria Park before going to a movie.  I also wanted ice cream.  The Marble Slab Creamery is the most decadent place.  I ordered up a waffle cone full of sweet cream (not vanilla), Smarties (a good old Canadian chocolate yummy), Crispy Crunch (more chocolaty goodness) and peanut bits.  And onto a park bench I plunked.  No reaching out, just putting in.  Upon completion of consumption, I wandered over to the bandshell, where about 30 women in long gingham dresses were lined up, in front of young men in white shirts.  Nothing was happening. They were just standing there, with a man in a black suit facing them.

The conductor then raised his arms.  The choir raised their hymn books and a lovely sound came forth.  Expression.  These folks were Mennonites and favoured the audience with several hymns, including “Amazing Grace”, a favourite of mine.  None of the men and women smiled but the tones were pure.  Their expression reached me.  And I was glad to hear them.

Afterwards a young Mennonite fellow approached and invited me to come out to his church.  We talked, sending a gentle energy to each other.  I wanted to keep the dialogue going even though our spiritual perspectives differed.  To express with love is a blessing.

Back at home, I thought of the many kind expressions that we human beings give each other: smiling, dancing, speaking, holding hands, hugging, laughing …  So many.  I thought back to my teaching days, and the type of child that I worried about.  It wasn’t the rough-around-the-edges kid who might yell and swear.  It was the boy or girl who wouldn’t say boo, who wouldn’t show me anything of the Spirit inside.  I hope they’ve all found their way and are reaching out to their fellow beings every day.  The world needs them.  The world needs us all.

Acting – Part 2

Lesley is the woman who’s leading the beginning actors workshop on March 21.  She mentioned how scared most people are to get on stage.  They’ll start off with set building or being a backstage hand.  Hmm.  Not me.  I told her I want to act.

The workshop will include the opportunity to throw a teenaged tantrum.  Yes!  I can do that.  In real life, I have very little antagonism left in me, but socking it to my parents for pretend sounds like so much fun.

Decades ago, I took a personal development course in Vancouver.  One of the exercises was to share these words with another participant:

Don’t you ever … ever … ever … let me catch you
Brushing that dog’s teeth
With my toothbrush!

Back then, in my 30’s, I struggled.  I had learned to be polite, “nice”.  Before I got to the point of really blasting my partner, the instructor sure blasted me.  “C’mon, Bruce.  Give me all you’ve got!”  What an adventure.  So I’m definitely looking forward to telling mom and dad where to go.

I’m drawn to the third play of next season’s playbill at the Princess Avenue Playhouse – Jake’s Women.  The cast is one guy and seven girls.  The small voice inside says “What chance do you have to get the one and only male part?  You haven’t acted for 39 years.”  But there’s another speaker who wants me to go for it.  Here’s a synopsis of the play:

“Jake, a novelist who is more successful with fiction that with life, faces a marital crisis by daydreaming about the women in his life.  The wildly comic and sometimes moving flashbacks played in his mind are interrupted by visitations from actual females.  Jake’s women include a revered first wife who was killed years earlier in an accident, his daughter who is recalled as a child but is now a young woman, his boisterous and bossy sister, an opinionated analyst, his current wife who is leaving Jake for another man, and a prospective third wife.”

Okay, I like this.  Not being an obsessive-type person, I won’t tell you that I’ve ordered the script from Amazon (delivery on Friday, March 6!) plus the movie that was adapted from it, starring Alan Alda (delivery by March 23!).  Oh, Bruce.  Such a silly goose.

Ya gotta laugh at us human beings.  So strange.  And we’ll see what plops into my lap as I travel on.

Acting – Part 1

I did it a long time ago … once.  In the summer of 1976, I was Snoopy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.  Gosh, I loved being Snoopy.

I feel every now and then that I’ve gotta bite someone
I know every now and then what I wanna be
A fierce jungle animal crouched on the limb of a tree

I’d stay very, very still till I see a victim come 
I’d wait, knowing very well every second counts 
And then, like the fierce jungle creature I am 
I would pounce!

Pouncing was so much fun.  So was having kids come up to me at the end of the evening, wanting to hang out with Snoopy.  My only real problem with the play was turning Snoopy off afterwards.  I couldn’t do it.  Between performances and for a week or two after the run was done, I was Snoopy.  A bit pathological, perhaps, but I remember not thinking so.  I was just waiting for Suppertime.  Suppertime.  Supp supp suppertime.

Now its 39 years later.  I went to a play at the Princess Avenue Playhouse in St. Thomas two weeks ago, and a found out about a beginning acting workshop to be held all day on Saturday, March 21.  I signed up for it, just like that.  Today there was an “Art Crawl” in town, with 30 or so artists spread over 12 venues.  Back to the playhouse I went, to see photographs and paintings.  Welcoming me at the door, with passport dabber in hand, was Lesley, one of the main cogs in the Elgin Theatre Guild wheel.  Plus she’s the workshop leader.  We talked.  I reminisced about Snoopy, and Lesley told me that life in amateur theatre is like “family”.  With Jody no longer with me physically, I could use a little family.

I blabbed on about the three-month meditation retreat I’m starting in September.  She thought that would be about relationship too.  And she’s right.  I asked about next year’s playbill.  If I was to act again, aiming at the April-May play next year sounded like a good plan.  It’s going to be Calendar Girls.  From Lesley’s description, it sounded okay.

Gosh, who knows?  I’d be auditioning, but would I get a part?  The future is such a mystery.  On a whim, I asked about the February, 2016 production.  It’s to be Jake’s Women by Neil Simon, the story of an agonized writer who gets visited by lots of women from his life, past and present.

“Lesley, when would rehearsals for that play start?”

“Right after Christmas.”

“Oh.”  I get back from my long retreat around December 10.

More reflections on my future tomorrow.