Monday, March 23, 2009

My Golden Dancers

The Lost Shoe

by Elita Sohmer Clayman

Ethan, Ava, and their parents (my son, daughter-in-law and two youngest grandchildren) came from Northern Virginia to visit us. It was the first time Ethan (3 1/2) and Ava (16 months) came to Grammie and Grandpa’s home. It is a long trip to come here and finally they made it.

Grammie and Grandpa cleaned and dusted and swiffered the whole home to ready themselves for this momentous occasion. They were tired from all the housework but were so eager to have the grandchildren make an appearance in their home.

After Ethan was here for an hour or so, he said, “I like being here.” That warmed Grammie’s heart. He played around, ran around and had fun. Grammie never said the word "do not" or "no" when he touched her little ornaments or china. She had not taken anything away to put out of little children’s hands because Ethan and Ava are well behaved.

There was a little china ornamental blue and white shoe on a table in the entrance foyer. Ethan looked at it and said, “That is a lost shoe.” How perceptive of him thinking it was a real shoe once and now it was misplaced. I got to thinking about the lost shoe and thought "here is a good theme for a dance article." So here goes.

Many times in our lives we may feel ‘lost.’ The meaning lost can be misplaced, missing or even lost in thought. Lost in thought is sometimes what we have happen to us. We think about something too much or not enough and we feel we have lost something. Many of us dancers think about stopping our dancing because it is too expensive, too time consuming and too much thought goes into it. We could possibly not have time for all the necessary thinking dancing entices us to accomplish.

The first night way back in November 1977 that we took our first serious ballroom dance lesson was quite different from what I expected when I thought about it that day before we got to the studio. I speculated that it would be fun, it would be different and it would be interesting. I never realized how much work went into learning new steps, new arm movements, smiling when dancing or even standing up straighter with our posture.

We took a little spiral notebook and after the class, my husband tried to remember to write down some little points we had learned. Then we went to a nice restaurant that we frequented often and were quite proud of ourselves for getting through it and still smiling.

We left the restaurant and went to a record store to buy some dance records so we could practice to dance music before the next week’s lesson. In those days, there were no CDs, no DVDs and no videos. They were ordinary large records and we found a whole section for dance music. We purchased about four of them and the next night we played them and tried to remember what we had learned. Our little Pekingese doggie named appropriately Rhumba hid under the sofa thinking, "What was wrong with these people?"

We were told we should try to purchase suede soled shoes for better and safer dancing. So I had heard about a dance shoe place in Virginia named Amber Dance Shoes. There was no Internet in those days to view the pictures of the shoes. I called the owner and she said she would send me out a brochure to see the types of shoes available.

She did and that was the beginning of me ordering many dance shoes in various colors, heights, comfort styles, etc. from high heeled silver and gold shoes, some with sequins and stones to others with flat and plain heels and leather material. When I wore my high heeled ones I felt like my favorite female dancer known to me then - Ginger Rogers. Even my husband ordered a pair and he would not admit it but I know he felt a bit like Fred Astaire when he wore them.

So Ethan thinking the china ornament was a lost shoe reminded me of our first dance shoes. Sometimes when we take a lesson, we find it hard to comprehend what we learned. We may feel lost and think why I am putting myself through this. For what? Then our sensibilities take over and we realize we are not lost, we are found. We have found something so fantastic that our journey has just begun in this dance life.

Journey it is and the word journey also means voyage and adventure. That it is and more than one can ever fathom. A trip so complex, so wonderful, so awesome and so very delightful. I hear people say that dancing probably saved their sanity and even their physical life.

By that they mean that they were just about to develop some physical ailments, some minor and some more complex, but when they decided to try ballroom dancing, many of the mental symptoms vanished. The reason being because they became occupied with something out of the realm of illness and therefore focused more on positive happenings. They did not concentrate on not feeling well and, therefore, balanced their life with more positive feelings.

All psychologists will vouch for positive thinking being a force so dynamic that it sometimes outweighs negative thoughts and negative happenings. When we are more positive, it is said our health improves. That is not to imply that illness can be cured by positive thinking alone, we still need our professional medical help and sometimes medicines but that positive feelings do override negative views.

Now if you are in a car accident like we were this past year, positive thinking cannot help the ailing knees or back or contusions but it can get you on a faster journey to wellness.

Ballroom dancing, no matter where you perform it, will enhance your life to such high altitudes that you will wonder how you lived without it all these years.

As the years roll by and you excel and advance in ballroom dancing your life will be fuller and richer than you could ever imagine.

I have a home full of ballroom dance objects. If my home was ever written up in a decorating column in the local newspaper, the theme would be dance and more dance.

The walls are decked out with photos of me dancing in showcases, of letters and tributes about dance and professional paintings of dance. My shelves are full of Lladro figurines in lots of dance positions. They are ballet figurines, Tango figurines and couple dance figurines. Anything that shows any kind of dance gets purchased by me. You could say I am obsessively caught up in the circumstance of the movement of feet, arms and soul.

In a former article I spoke of dancing for the meat bones at the local butcher shop when I was a wee little girl. Now I am a senior and dancing is the meat of my life. This meat has no cholesterol, no fat, no grease, and no sugar. It is full of the flavor of creation of movement within in the body and within in the soul. It increases the flow of thought in the brain and helps one to cope with daily adversities and sadness. It increases the desire
of accomplishment in life and as we age we need goals to achieve.

To learn is to get high without drugs, alcohol or spending money on frivolous items. To achieve in a sport or hobby called ballroom dancing at any age is, as Shakespeare said about something else, a ‘gift in thy brain.’

To ballroom dance is an endowment of genius, quality, talent and aptitude. We endorse this with all of our heart and we want everyone who wishes to dance to try it and to savor the responses they will get in their life.

As little Ethan, my number three grandson said, this is a lost shoe, but only if we let it be lost to us. We take that shoe and put it on and dance the days and evenings away and it becomes a gift in thy brain.


Anonymous said...

The Lost Shoe Article is beautiful.
I too believe we should never get lost in our dancing 'career.'

Dancing kept my sanity when my Dad was sick and dying. I would run to see him in the hospital and then run over to the studio I attend and practice and it helped to level my impending sadness upon his leaving.

Dancing is better than food eaten to soothe us. It is better than any drug taken to calm us.

Dancing is pure goodness to our minds.

Mary Jean A, Allen
Philadelphia, Penna

Anonymous said...

great article.inspirational and beautifully written. thanks so much for writing these words.

Brittany Anne Sparks

Anonymous said...

Everytime I see a shoe on the floor, now, I think of the little boy and the lost shoe ceramic ornament.

Very interesting story and good encouragement for us soon to be dance students.

Laura Beth from California

Anonymous said...

it is a shame Elita Clayman did not know Fred Astaire. He would have liked her stories on letting people know what dancing can mean in their life. Everyone thinks Dancing With The Stars stimulates folks to go out and take lessons.

On the contrary, it may for a bit, but those skimpy costumes and tanned bodies and long hours learning to be on the show is not typical of the average person taking ballroom dance lessons.

I have been taking and dancing for ten years and Dancing With Stars is not even a real reality show.

Articles like Elita's and books like on Fred Astaire, that is what stimulates someone to be brave enough to even try.

Margaret from Mississippi

Anonymous said...

Beautiful sentiments. Keep it up Mrs. Elita. We love your thoughts and writings. Fred Astaire blog or newsletter is really smart to have you on it.

SueEllen T. Traciey