When my son was a child, he would draw on any available piece of paper. Not a simple doodle or design, he would draw fully articulated characters, monsters, fully-formed faces, bodies, armor and all. If there was an envelope on the kitchen counter, it would have a drawing on it. Bills that came in the mail got small sketches in the corners. Return envelopes would have monsters drawn all around the address. No blank space was safe. It wasn’t that much later that he asked for a ‘cartooning desk’ that ultimately I was to discover was really a ‘drafting table.’ He got that table for Christmas at the age of seven, and now he is an Art Director.
When I was a child, I used to write short stories. My spelling teacher would give us lists from which we had to create stories. Although my Dad gets all the credit for some of the best stories I turned in to school in those days (one was even printed in a school publication!) I wrote other stories.
He liked to write stories of Charlie and Sam. He was 'Charlie', and I had always been 'Sam.' I loved those stories. He had a lot of black and white composition books of his stories. They were ultimately destroyed between a flood in his basement and a fire in his home. I wrote, though. I wrote poems and short stories and plays and even two novels. I was a writer...
I had taken ballet class because my Mother didn’t want me to walk the way Black girls with as much ‘back’ as I had, often walked. I liked ballet, but as I got older, I discovered Modern Dance. I loved Modern and studied with a few outstanding choreographers in Philadelphia. When I went to college, I discovered Jazz dance and I was hooked. However, continuous tears and depression (as my Mother had passed away suddenly) kept me from going to class. I fled the city.
When I arrived on the West Coast, I was welcomed with open arms. Soon after, I re-discovered the dancer in me! I took dance classes at one of San Francisco's most famous studios. I became a teacher. I participated in several studio performances. And I danced and danced and danced.
As the adult division of the studio, we went on to become an 'item' as a company of dancers over 40 years old. We moved to the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason. My best friend became the Company Manager and Artistic Director, I became the Producer. We held sold out shows. Standing room only!
I started writing again in more than my journal. I wrote short stories and poems. I even wrote a full length play! It was an amazing time.
So here I am, some 20 years later. I look around and realize it has been quite a while since I’ve been in a dance studio. I miss the marley floor, the mirrored walls, the ballet barres opposite the mirrors.
I did produce, direct and perform in a dance concert. We rehearsed in a ballroom dance studio (wood floors, no marley, no barres). It was wonderful though. It was fun to be directing and dancing!
I haven’t stopped writing, but I realize I need BOTH. Dance is my physical outlet, writing is my emotional outlet. And herein lies the Blog.
Guess what I did this week? I went to my first jazz class since I stopped producing shows in San Francisco, 10 or 15 years ago. I did it just to prove to myself that I could. And I did. And I’ll go back.
And when I came home, I wrote about it in my journal.