I am not a good dancer. I know a lot of people who are very “Ha, ha, I’m a terrible dancer, oh man so bad, I couldn’t even complete a second pirouette after expertly completing the first one!” Or, like “You know me, two left feet!” before being taken over by the spirit of dance and moving their bodies with such unbridled joie de vivre that, technical skill be damned, what they are doing is a wonder to behold. None of those people are me.
In high school, I was in a lot of musical theater (and had MANY boyfriends, and was very popular, just kidding). These shows were choreographed by an adult woman with some kind of dance background that was never fully explained to us. She made it very clear, very often, that she didn’t like me, and that she thought I was a bad dancer, and also made a few comments about my young, chubby body that stuck with me for years afterwards. At one point, she stopped a dance rehearsal to tell me, in front of the group, that everyone around me was giving 110 percent, and that I was giving “less than 12,” a number devastating in both its low value and its specificity.
So, anyway, dancing is hard. I feel like I’m bad at it, and so I am. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that has kept me doing Comedy Dancing (you know what I’m talking about: the lawn mower, big lip synching, all very sad stuff) or wallflowering well into my twenties. For this reason, Beyography—the Beyoncé dance class currently taking Toronto by storm—feels like a big risk. Or at least, a very embarrassing mistake. So I have to try it. My fears are quickly assuaged by the calming, warm presences of Nicky and his assistant Katherine, who start the class with a warm-up (to Bey, naturally) and set a gentle, “Just shake your butt if you get lost” tone for the next two hours.
By a stroke of bad luck, a Toronto morning show is filming the class, so I try to hide at the back, hoping they’ll focus on the leggy women in the front who brought heels and are pointing their toes in a way that suggests they’ve never given just 12 percent to anything in their lives. Nicky and Katherine take us through the slinky, bendy, dippy moves to “Blow,” Beyoncé’s classic ode to cunnilingus, and I notice an immediate difference from my choreography experiences past: nothing matters. We’re just doing this for fun, so no one is worried about getting things exactly right. When someone asks if it’s a left or right foot for a pivot, Nicky says, “It’s the left, but if you need to cheat that’s fine…literally do whatever works.” He took us through the stage routine to “Blow,” a mix of hairography, snapping, and one very devastating drop to the ground/open legs/body roll up combo. When we’re not getting sexy enough about it, Nicky reminds us that the song is basically “one long moan.”
We learn the moves (sharp pivots, hip slaps, the aforementioned body roll) in manageable chunks, making ample use of Elevation Dancentre’s ballet barre. Some people are amazing at it, some are fine, some are me, but we’re all having a good time. I surprise myself by being pretty unselfconsciously into it. At one point I notice everyone around me having a great time whipping their hair around, and to be honest once I take my bun out I’m like another person (insert tired Sasha Fierce reference here). During a snapping-heavy, movement-low section, I find myself very earnestly thinking “Beyoncé’s great, isn’t she?” as though for the first time.
The two-hour class isn’t as intense a workout as last week’s Body Attack, but it is a lot more fun, and I leave class feeling almost ludicrously good—about my hair, my butt, and, yes, my dance abilities. Then I head home and fill the tub up halfway, and… well.*
*JUST KIDDING YOU GUYS! I made and ate a sandwich! But can you IMAGINE?
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