I can’t dance, but …

JimTC - WP 1 - I Can't Dance

At least I can walk. And I don’t take that for granted. Having broken a shinbone during a skiing mishap at age 11, and having spent a couple of months in a cast afterward — not a walking cast, either — I know what a blessing, indeed, full mobility is.

Before High School

I’m physically fit to dance. I just don’t know how. Oh, I learned some basic steps as a kid in school. Who didn’t? But what little I learned, I’ve either blocked out or forgotten.

You’re probably wondering, “What was the problem?” Well, in the learning process, I usually managed to get stuck with the girls I didn’t like — or the ones who didn’t like me — or both!

Of course, I was always picky. Over time, I did find one young lady I liked and then went steady with her for a few years, starting in my early teens. But neither of us cared for the school dances — the crowded environment, the noise level, the small talk from others there. Yeah — thanks but no thanks.

We preferred sitting alone together at her parents’ home — or my parents’ home — watching classic films. During daylight hours in nice weather, walking down a country road together — or through the local cemetery — was far better than all the noise and hype of the popularity crowd at school.

Other Deterrents

In my teens, I couldn’t make sense of the crazy dance steps that were all the rage. I felt totally lost. I didn’t care to join in.

And the noise level at the school dances? I’ve already harped on my intense aversion to loud orchestral music and gym music. The dance bands at school were obnoxiously loud — what with the amplification and distortion. It was well nigh impossible to carry on a conversation over all that noise — so irritating. I wasn’t the only one who complained.

Dance Music for Evening Walks

Even though I can’t dance, I’ve loved dance music for as long as I remember. Whatever the genre — classic rock, Big Bands, ballet — as long as it’s not too loud, I can go with it.

Briefly, once again, on the opening subject: I was a child prodigy of long-distance walking. My normal routine now is three walks a day, about 20 minutes at a stretch, sometimes a bit longer. The evening session, unless the weather is warm and there’s still plenty of daylight, is indoors. For these sessions, I prop open two doors, about 30 feet apart. Then ‘round and ‘round I go through four rooms at about 3.5 mph, listening to music tracks on YouTube or radio or CD.

My parents frequently played classical music, including some ballet selections, on radio and recordings while I was growing up. I grew to love this kind of music before preschool. Check out some of these tracks below — six of the hundreds of selections I’ve played over the years during evening walks. Runtimes are to nearest 5-second intervals.

Delibes, Leo.
Coppelia: Act I Mazurka.
Bolshoi Ballet. 4:20.

Meyerbeer, Giacomo — arranged by Constant Lambert.
Les Patineurs (The Skaters) from Act III of Le Prophète.
Radio-Philharmonie Hannover. Conductor: Michail Jurowski. 18:10.

Offenbach, Jacques — arranged by Manuel Rosenthal.
Gaité Parisienne.
Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Manuel Rosenthal. 48:55.

Strauss, Richard.
Der Rosenkavalier (The Rose Bearer).
Waltz Sequence — arranged for Two Pianos.
Pianists: Rachael Huang and Anna Nagy. 9:40.

Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich.
Swan Lake.
The Kirov Ballet. 1:55:40.

Weber, Carl Maria von.
Aufforderung zum Tanze (Invitation to the Dance).
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Perry So. 9:15.

An abridged, adapted version of this piece, “Pre-practice warm-ups — with dance music,” October 31, 2015, is at violinist.com.


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