For the past few years, students have said to me “I know I really need a dance class which covers the fundamentals.” I answer with a definitive nod of the head. Enter Katie McCaughan, Executive Director of Jacksonville Dance Company, (and a dear pal) who answered my prayers with a weekly fundamentals class during early release Wednesdays.

Every hump day at three o’clock, eight eager movers show up in proper dance attire to learn or relearn the fundamentals of ballet, jazz, and modern.  Katie is a nimble teacher and a graceful mover. She makes it all is look so easy.

We have four guys in the class.  One day, I donned jazz shoes, tights, athletic shorts and an Apex tee to see if I could make it through the warm-up.

I was fine until Katie mentioned that we would need to do a crawl on our hands and knees. I raised my hand and requested a modification for anyone over thirty.  Katie’s nose crinkled, she grinned, and said “well, okay, you guys are gonna crawl and Ian and I will create a gesture which is in opposition to what you are doing.”

Katie spurned me on to an upward angle with my arms that proved challenging without being crippling. At this point in life, the floor is not always my friend.

I made it through the class with out wiping out.

And now it’s a welcome part of my week.

More than anything, the class reminds me that what our Musical Theatre students are attempting is highly athletic.  It requires focus, strength, and concentration. The alphabet derived from our turns, bends, and across-the- floors, creates a language in which we connect as humans on a primal level.  It’s also really important for me to get in the middle of what we are doing in the studio. Nothing will make you feel more vulnerable than dancewear.  For better or worse.

When the class finds its feet, there is a shared joy and affection for the ability to communicate with all of ourselves.

Thursdays mornings always find me a little sore but grateful. I will encounter some  students from Katie’s class later in the week. We might commiserate for brief moment with a “I’m still a little sore from Katie’s class.” And then one of us will say “Yeah, but isn’t it great?”  I answer with another definitive nod of the head.

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