I have been blessed with many amazing people in my life. Truly. My family, my friends, teachers I will never forget like my third grade teacher at The Hebron Ave. School in Glastonbury, Conn. Her name was Miss. Wrotniack and she was one of those teachers you carry with you in your heart for the rest of your life. I thought she was so cool. She wore Pappagallo flats, had headbands in every color and played the guitar. We did amazing projects like have a Luau after studying about Hawaii and after she read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to us she had us create our own candy bars. I read the book to the third graders and do the same project because of her. She was kind, patient, fun and I secretly wanted her to marry my father. I kept asking him to come do things at school so they would fall in love, get married and I would have her all to myself forever and ever. It never happened but I never forgot her.
I had taken dancing classes as a little girl and loved it. I love to dance. Like most little girls I wanted to be a ballerina. I even took some classes at The Hartford Ballet Company and performed in the Nutcracker with them. I loved everything about dance class. The barre work, the floor work, the combinations. I loved it all. I do not really remember why I stopped taking classes. I am sure it had something to do with school and all the extra curricular activities that went along with it. All I know is I stopped and I really thought that dance was behind me. Then I went to the Stoneliegh-Burnham School.
After 2 years of Glastonbury High School I was lost. It really had nothing to do with the school or the people there. They were wonderful. It was me. I mean who skips school but hangs out in the library all day? Me. I was beyond lucky to be able to attend the Stoneleigh-Burnham School for the rest of my high school years. I could go on and on about SBS and how important it was too me but I have never been able to adequately find the words to express how important a role the school and my years there colored my entire world. I can write about Jane Perkins.
As part of your schedule at SBS you had to participate in afternoon activities. Most of the girls rode. I had taken riding lessons at home and quickly discovered it was not for me. There were all sorts of sports but anyone that knows me knows that is not my strength either unless shopping is considered a sport and then I would be a Gold Medalist. The school did have a dance department. I was apprehensive but intrigued. I had loved to dance. From the moment I entered the dance studio for the first time I was home. It was an unexplainable feeling of belonging and acceptance. Jane welcomed me into her classes with open arms and an unwavering belief that I could do whatever she asked of me. She pushed, encouraged, taught and molded me into the best dancer I could be with her iron will and the her constant phrase “Pain builds Character” repeated over and over. When I was unsure of a certain dance she came in on a Saturday to dance it with me until I was comfortable. When I thought I had gone as far as I could she made me take Ballet 3 and I will never forget how proud she was of us when we kept up with a company class from a local college that had performed at the school the night before. She encouraged me to dance in theater productions and along with John Beattie opened the doors to Musical theater for me. She never once thought I could not do whatever it was I wanted to do. She taught me how to be a dancer, a teacher, a friend and a mother. I carry her in my heart every day.
I continued to dance in some way or another right up until the year I got engaged. At that point I was only taking walk in classes occasionally when I could find the time. After work, marriage and motherhood I thought the closest I would ever get to dancing again would be being a “Backstage Mom” at Marissa’s recitals, And then another amazing woman walked into my life. Actually, I walked into her class and I am forever grateful. I had heard about Zumba and seen it on an infomercial one night when I could not sleep. I loved the energy of the dance moves and the music. I had never taken any sort of Latin dance classes but it looked like something I would like to do. I was nervous but when some friends at school had told me about the classes they had taken and their amazing teacher I had to bite the bullet and try it. When I walked into the class I had the same feeling of coming home as I did in Jane’s Dance studio and most of it had to do with Natalie. I had no idea how to “Zumba” but she said “Just Dance” and even though I was 48, overweight, had a bum knee and a bad foot I watched her lead and I danced. And the minute the music started I felt that little surge I always use to get when I danced and I was happy. Not only did Natalie give me back the gift of dance but this whole new world of friends and adventures I never knew I would be blessed to have at this point in my life. Blessed.
Natalie reminds me a lot of Jane. I have to wonder if it is a gift that goes hand in hand with being a good dancer. The gift of seeing more in a person that they can see in themselves and knowing how to draw it out of them with love and patience. I know that it is a gift to not only hear the music but to see it. I wonder if it is a gift that they were given at birth to create something where there was nothing. Not just the choreography but to create a community where you feel safe and encouraged to try something you have only ever dreamed of doing. Where I have met life long friends. Where I have challenged myself. Where I have dreamed. Where I have stumbled. Where I have sweat. Where I have danced. I have been beyond blessed to have had Jane and now Natalie to dance with.
The Noise In My Head ( and it is filled with music).