Yesterday, I participated in New York's annual International Dance Parade. The Bollywood dance class I've been taking for a couple of weeks was participating, and even though I barely knew the steps to the dance they would be performing in front of hundreds of people along Broadway, I decided to participate.
I had some trepidation about the parade because dancing and rhythm are two things that don't come particularly naturally to me. Also, the last "dance performance" I attempted had not gone well. It was at the end of term party for my Irish step dancing class a year ago. Of a group of 20 jig-happy classmates, only one other person showed up. None of my friends were able to come to watch, and after making small talk with middle-aged Irish people and getting my fill of soda bread, I'd been planning to slip out the back exit without performing. Unfortunately for me, the one other girl who showed up had brought with her a boyfriend with flowers and video camera in tow ready to record our rendition of the reel. There was no escaping. The reel would be performed. We decided to skip the dramatic two stepping entrance that with 20 people looked quite nice, but in our case would only serve to highlight the fact that there were only two of us. The only positive thing about only have two people was that the space we were allowed was actually quite small. So small that in doing the first side step I manged to kick the cane out from under an older woman who was sitting (thankfully) very close to the sidelines. Our entire performance ended up (according to other girl's boyfriend's digital camera) being about 47 seconds long. Easily 20 seconds of that is me profusely apologizing to the woman for kicking her cane and then trying to figure out how to regain the steps. I sometimes wonder if this video is on youtube somewhere.
At any rate, it seemed like a good time to face my fears and tackle public organized dancing yet again. I figured, despite not being confident in the steps, at least I could hide in the middle of a crowd of dancers. In the end, only five people showed up. One of them was the teacher of our class, the only person who really looked good doing the dance, who also happened to have a stress fracture in her foot that kept her from moving too much. We planned to do our choreographed moves to this song: http://www.bollyfm.net/bollyfm/mid/1396/tid/7816/song.html, which would play out of a reasonably powerful boom box. Other dance groups had more sophisticated sound systems, however, including the group with a truck full of speakers blasting Lady Gaga right behind us. The first half of the parade was spent trying to distance ourselves from the truck as much as possible so we could hear our music. By the end of the parade though, we had loosened up a lot, found our groove, essentially learned to co-exist with both the truck and the aggressive swing dance troop behind us, and the whole experience was a lot of fun.
I'm including some pictures of the dance parade for those who couldn't attend:
I'm not sure why I look bored here. Also, this picture make it look like the parade was sparsely attended, which I swear it wasn't! I only picked this picture because it was one of the, sadly, few in which I'm doing basically the same thing as the other people. For whatever reason, the belly dancers were more popular than we were.
My next goal is to take a class in whatever the hell this is.
Although I don't have a picture of them actually dancing, I can assure you that these guys removed my long-held prejudices about needing water in order to credibly perform synchronized swimming.