Well, you’re not. Just like how a dude on OkCupid holding a guitar in his profile picture is not a Musician. A Musician is someone who gets paid to play music for other people and who has a record contract. A Dancer is someone who gets paid to dance. We’re talking Baryschnikov, Bruhn, Pavlova, Hines, Hijikata, Nijinksky, Morris, Tharp, Sparks, Robson. You don’t know who those people are? That’s because you’re not a dancer.
Jeff Joniak, (the voice of the Chicago Bears), asked me last Wednesday, why I chose dancing as my profession. I told him that it’s one of the few forms of expression out there that anyone can do without hours and hours of training. It takes years of drills on the piano to be able to express in a way that actually sounds pleasing. I remember the first moment, after about two years of plucking strings on a guitar when I strummed a few chords and it actually sounded like MUSIC. But in the moment of answering his question, I was arguing that “anyone can dance” and “anyone can express” because you just use your body and the expression is there.
But let’s face it. Most of you don’t think you can dance, and you’re right. You can’t. You have this idea of what would look cool or what makes sense to the music, but it comes out all wrong, like a child spewing paint on construction paper. The child and Jackson Pollock use the same technique, but somehow Pollock’s spew looks like art, and the child’s looks like vomit. That’s how your dancing looks and feels.
So you give up on moving by yourself because that’s awkward and people are staring, and instead you join the World of Partner Dance and you learn the steps and soon you start paying to go to parties, and paying to go to events and you ask people to dance and they say yes, and some of them even ask you to dance. You go out for burgers and shakes afterwards with your friends and they’re playing Runaround Sue and you and a girl you like jump up and swing out in the space between tables and the waitress looks annoyed when she brings a tray of cole-slaw to the table and everyone laughs, because well, we’re dancers, and that’s how we roll.
You have all the t-shirts from all the exchanges. You regularly grab a partner and show off in front of the band at the blues bar, and all the patrons stop watching the band and they watch you and they’re amazed and ask you what kind of dancing that is, and you say, “I’m a Blues Dancer.” Capital B, Capital D. You’re a Dancer and you feel Entitled to dance anywhere there’s music. But did the band pay you to distract the audience from their show? Uh no. I think you paid a $10 cover to get in the touristy blues bar. Some bands I know (the Asylum Street Spankers) actually got so sick of the entitlement of Dancers at their shows, that they prohibit dancing. Why? Because you’re jacking off all over their performance.
I think George Carlin put it best when he said, “Stop that! Stick to your faggoty polkas and waltzes, and that repulsive country line dancing shit that you do and be yourself, be proud, be white, be lame and get the fuck off the dance floor!” I laugh every time I hear that, and you do too, because you’ve seen those people.
Some of you even think you have what it takes to make it as a Dancer. You show up for auditions. You’ve got the leg warmers, and the right shoes and you’ve got your music and your moves but at the end of the day, the judge yawns and says, “next.” Guess what, still not a Dancer. Back to the studio, darling.
By now, you’re seething. You think, “who does this chick think, telling me I’m not a Dancer!” But you’re cringing inside, because you watched that last video link, and secretly you’re afraid you dance just as badly as Sex, the most hilarious auditioner of all time on So You Think You Can Dance. Maybe you’re one of my students. Or maybe you even teach dance. Studies show that one out of the three people who read my blog are dance teachers. (I always love it when Nigel scolds some poor dance instructor on SYTYCD, “You teach dance for a living? Really? You should give that money back!”) You think I’m a hypocrite. After all, I’VE never been on TV, or choreographed a routine for Britney Spears or been on the stage of a real dance hall. You’re right. I’m not really a Dancer either. My name won’t go down in the history books of famous dancers. I’m not on TV, or the movies, or on a big stage. So, I have no right.
So fuck it. Either be a Dancer, or don’t be, but quit half-assing it. Taking a dance class once a week does not a dancer make you. It’s a nice hobby, but it’s just fuckarounditis. Seriously, you can do better than that. I’m not saying you have to give up your real job and move to Soho. Just put in some effort. Put some time in, in front of a mirror. Wear some revealing clothing so you can actually see what your body looks like. Spend more than 20 minutes trying out a new move. Take some classes from a professional, someone who’s in demand. Listen to those mean judges and harsh critics, because they get paid to observe good dancing for a living and they know what they’re talking about.
If you thought of yourself as a DANCER, you’d know your history. You’d have an entire portion of your wardrobe devoted to dance. You’d cross-train and you’d find all kinds of metaphors for dance and life everywhere in the world, because you’d live and breathe dance, and then when someone asks you what you do, even if you’re an attorney, or a surgeon, or a barista or a college student, you could say, without an ounce of self-doubt in your heart, “Me? I’m a Dancer. Capital D-Dancer, bitch.”