the dancer

When riding my bike and a slight hill appears I must use all my leg power to tackle the mere incline (I'm not talking real hills). As I'm peddaling with more and more emphasis I can't help but be aware of my powerhouse legs. My calves are huge and this is not actually related to me being overweight. There are two reasons for my treetrunk legs. First, there is genetics (I know, blame your mother). But seriously, I've never seen the women in my family ever really break a sweat, sure there is the occasional walking of the dog, but no intense exercise going on, and yet these women do not have dainty legs. We have legs built for... well I don't know what for. The second reason is Linda Watkins School of Dance. I was a dancer from age 4 to 18 and dancers have powerhouse legs, how else could they leap like that? I tapped, balleted, toed, and jazzed my way through 14 years of jetes, plies, and time steps. I usually hated dance class, but the recitals I lived for. There is nothing like being on stage and performing. My favorite was the kick line. And still, years later, when I hear Elvis Costellos' "Hot Hot Hot" (which is not that often) I want to throw some eye high kicks and do a split, oh there were splits. Sadly, I couldn't do a split now if you paid me. I miss the way a dancer knows her body, how every move is fluid and somehow perfectly calculated, even walking can be a dance. Our dance instructor used to tell us a story about a dancer's grace. The story goes that she was coming home from the grocery store holding a bag of groceries in each hand. When she stepped up her back stairs to her house, she slipped on a thin layer of ice. And this is where the grace comes in- she would emphasize that because she was dancer, she knew how to fall and thus landed safely on the ground, legs folded perfectly to soften the full body blow. The strange thing is that I don't remember ever practicing or in fact ever falling in dance class, but I understood what she was saying. A dancer's right hand always knows and reacts to what the left hand is doing. I've never broken a bone, pulled a muscle, or torn a ligament, could this be due to the dancing? I don't know but, thanks to Linda Watkins, when I'm 85 and fall down my front stairs, I may not in fact break my hip.

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