Very many years of assiduous efforts have forced me to conclude that tasks exist that are beyond even the most remarkably gifted of entities, the brain. Movements – coordinated or otherwise, mostly otherwise – of the torso and other dangling parts of the human anatomy is one such. My brain, which otherwise does a laudable job of regulating movement, fails abysmally at directing bodily movement triggered by music.
As with most disasters, mine could be traced to the past. In the rapid-growth phase of early life, I considered myself above-average in cricket and soccer, where I periodically surprised myself (and others; myself, mostly) with a stupefying display of agility and foot-skills. Wisdom hadn’t instructed me yet on the mind’s penchant for delusion and I incorrectly thought my fleet-footedness would translate seamlessly to the dance floor.
My initial acquaintance with dance began pretty well, if I recollect accurately. The entire sequence of movements that I would belt out would take shape in my head. It was as clear as the blue sky that the chain of complex movements housed in my head would leave the audience spellbound and speechless. The time to translate theory into practice arrived…
…and things went horribly awry.
The left-leg, my ever dependable soccer-feet, seemed to have landed in quick sand. Watching its partner drop anchor, the other leg attempted a solo act of gallantry. However, with its range of operations restricted due to the absence of its partner, the (dys)functional right-leg promptly disturbed other snoring parts of my anatomy. My hands, normally the thickest of mates, defiantly ambled in opposite directions, each intent on upstaging the other for some unknown reason. I found the section below my midriff oscillating like a pendulum, in the North-South direction. Dread made its presence felt when I observed others’ respective sections jauntily oscillating in an East-Westerly direction, in a rather genteel manner. I was to learn that vulgarity, normally abhorred in modern society, was welcomed as an entertaining intrusion on dance floors. My head seemed to go nowhere and was having great difficulty in quelling the mass revolt by its subjects. Attempts at imposing sanity through immediate censure of body movements were unsuccessful. My brain had abdicated, leaving most of its subjects with the liberty of self-governance; a privilege they exercised heartily.
Watching more-gifted neighbours indulge in an adroit display of a complex sequence, I (foolishly) decided on enacting a repeat. It was a version of the side somersault, well-known to gymnasts. When executed correctly, the executor lands one hand on the ground, proceeds to lift one leg, then the other, off the ground. With both legs facing the heavens, the other hand lands on the ground next to its partner, so the dancer is momentarily upside-down; before proceeding in a semi-circular arc. The legs make a safe landing and the hands are restored to their rightful positions of hanging forlornly, off the ground. The upright dancer is then generally greeted with applause.
It looked easy.
I gained in confidence when one hand landed perfectly on the ground. A leg took-off from the runway…and promptly ran into turbulence. Even as the first struggled with instability, the other leg initiated an abrupt take-off, against instructions, and quickly ran into the same turbulence afflicting its partner. The sudden drop in the air of confidence exacted its toll. While my neighbours’ legs moved perpendicular to the ground, mine displayed an affinity for remaining parallel throughout.
In a humiliating let-down, both legs careened at 90-degrees to my body and landed edgily on the ground. The other hand was not called forth to discharge its duties and it looked woefully out-of-place.
I prudently decided against proceeding with my plan of a back somersault.
As theory was obliterated in the mayhem caused by the attempted execution, the stock of laughter had a bull-run. I had succeeded in leaving my audience spellbound but had failed in leaving them speechless.
In subsequent years, I made further attempts at improving my acquaintance with dance. Almost every effort turned into a stress-reliever for those fortunate enough to be present around me. After years of experimentation and entertaining mishaps, I have finally settled on alternately lifting each feet off the ground, with the hands on a tight leash, as the best way of avoiding attention.
It isn’t the wondrous ridicule that I’m subjected to, but the gross inability of my brain to execute perfunctory acts of coordinated movement in certain settings, that vexes me.
I’m yet to fathom why fleet-footedness in the sports arena fails so miserably on the dance floor…