Gotta Dance

The following is by Writers in the Grove member Gretchen Keefer, inspired from Prompt-a-Month: Dance.

“You there, Kevin! Stop adding those curlicues and follow the plan!”

Kevin, embarrassed, quickly found his place in the formation and continued practicing with the other dancers. He stumbled a few times, which added to his embarrassment, but gamely continued with practice until the choreographer called a break. Shoulders slumped on his lanky frame, Kevin ambled to the corner where he had stashed his pack with his water bottle.

“Don’t be discouraged,” Angie, an older, more experienced dancer, said to him, handing him a towel. “Barrett is hard on everyone. He gets great results, but we all work like the devil getting there.” She looked Kevin over. ‘You have good moves and a classic dancer’s body. You’ll do all right.”

Kevin smiled his thanks for the encouragement, pushing a lock of his dark hair off his forehead. “It just seems to me that the moves are too simple. Any second year student could do them. I wanted to add some pizzazz.”

“If you want to stay in this game, remember rule number one: always do what the choreographer says. He sees the routine from a different perspective, from the audience’s view. HE’s the artist; you are just his tool.”

“Thanks. Say, do you want to get something to eat?”

“Sorry,” Angie held up her own lunch. “I really have to be careful with food. I’m not as lucky as you youngsters. Ask Lindsay there”. She nodded towards a petite blonde.

Kevin moved towards the younger girl. “Hi, I’m Kevin the bumble-footed. Would you like to get some lunch? I hear there is a deli around the corner with great salads.”

Laughing the girl replied, “I’m Lindsay the famished. I’d love to have yet another salad. Maybe there is something there without lettuce.”

After covering the requisite information about backgrounds, the two young people continued their conversation with dance topics. “I love ball room dancing,” Lindsay said. “I was on a ball room dance team in college. We won some competitions. It was a lot of fun.”

“Congratulations. That must look great on your resume. I prefer jazz dancing, and physical, creative tap.”

“You mean like Gene Kelly and Donald O’Conner in the old movies?” Kevin nodded. “I’m more of Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers person,” Lindsay continued.

Suddenly they realized they had talked through the allotted time and had to grab their half-eaten salads and rush back to the theater. They stashed their food with their packs and hastened into place just as Barrett was starting the rehearsal.

“Kevin! “he shouted. “What are you going to do this afternoon?”

“Following your direction, sir!”

The entire chorus line giggled, Barrett smiled and nodded. “Then we will have a wonderfully successful rehearsal. OK, now,” he raised his arm for the downbeat, “one, two, three…”

Later that afternoon Kevin was watching the leads rehearse their solos when Lindsay sat beside him. “They’re great. I wonder when I will get a chance to dance like that.”

Lindsay replied, “They have a lot of experience, but, listen, they are still following Barrett’s instructions.”

“Yeah. I guess I will just have to dance on my own for now.” He stood and tapped a few steps in front of Lindsay, ending with a hand flourish.

Lindsay laughed easily. “Is this the part in the movie where you ask me to dance and we steal the show?”

“Almost – it’s a rehearsal for the big time.”

The pair moved out to the hall and improvised, combining his jazz steps with her ball room steps. After a few minutes they heard a smattering of applause from other dancers watching them. They bowed graciously and joined the rest of the group reviewing their moves to be ready for the next day’s rehearsal. There was only a week left to prepare for opening night.

The show was a success. It was extended three weeks to accommodate all those who wanted to see it. Reviews were excellent, with special credit going to Barrett’s skill at choreography. Finally there was the bustle of closing, sharing tips about upcoming jobs, exchanging contact information. Barrett got commitments from the few people he wanted to be sure were available for his next program.

He patted Kevin on the back and said, “Work on those curlicues, young man. You may use them sooner than you think.”

Kevin decided the statement was a compliment on his dancing. The next week seemed odd without the rush to the evening’s work at the theater. Kevin had his day job, and spent some time looking for his next dance opportunity, but time did move slowly without the contact with the others. When he found the brief notice from the Elks Club, he almost overlooked it. Somehow it must have settled into his brain, because he had to search through several papers to find it again. Then he called Lindsay. “I’ve found a venue for ball room dancing. Are you interested in going out on Saturday night?”

“Yes”, she replied enthusiastically. “Where is it?”

“It’s at the Elks Club. Probably will be a lot of older people there, but we should be able to dance all we want to.”

Lindsay was not deterred by the potential age of the other attendees. She was excited to be doing what she loved so much – dancing. Kevin and Lindsay were the youngest couple in the room. The other couples greeted them warmly and explained the routine. It was not long before the young pair felt comfortable with the older people, and exchanged partners several times with some of the couples they met. When faster tunes were played, Kevin and Lindsay had the floor almost entirely to themselves. They thoroughly enjoyed twirling and sashaying around the dance floor. During a rollicking jitterbug they outlasted everyone else and were loudly applauded.

The evening was going very well. Kevin also had a surprise for Lindsay. She noticed at once, during a waltz they were finally able to dance together and not with other partners, that Kevin could ballroom dance as well as he could tap. She expressed her delight and thanked him for the opportunity to participate in the graceful flowing moves of the dance. Kevin smiled. He did enjoy the dance as well, and he understood why.

This time HE was leading.

Gretchen Keefer is expanding on a family tradition. Her mother and grandmother wrote poetry, father wrote a textbook for appliance service technicians, brother writes for professional journals. Keefer writes family friendly short stories, which she hopes will inspire and entertain.


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