Sunday, November 30, 2008
Fonda Yo Moves (Or, Tiny Dancer)
I once thought that the best thing about a liberal arts undergraduate education was the curiosity and love of learning it instilled in me.
Now that I'm older, I realize the best thing about said education is the crazy, whackass stories that those four years provided.
For instance, there's the one about when I - under duress - performed with a circus in Greece...
Or the one about having to pick up six female friends who went to the local bowling alley in floor length gowns, wigs, and tiaras and were afraid for their lives once faced with the reality of "League Night" at that particular rural establishment...
Or the one about when I performed in a modern dance piece.
People that only know the current, middle-aged me, are always shocked when I talk about my short-lived stint as a dancer. I took a semester of Drama in college, which also had two mandatory dance components (Modern Dance and Ballet). Having no dance training, the Modern class drove me nuts. In one 90 minute class, our only instruction was: "The room is a river...and you are a water molecule....now MOVE!" I sludged around the class, rolling my eyes. This kind of crap even irritated me in Kindergarten. With its intense structure and attention to form, Ballet was much easier for me to get my head around. Plus, the ballet teacher was a hilariously cranky broad named Leonore who chain smoked and cursed like a sailor.
It goes without saying: I loved her.
At the end of the semester, the delicious ballet teacher asked me to perform in a piece she was choreographing the following term. I thought I had modestly limped through the class...so her invitation immediately flushed me with pride.
"I must be, like, a really, really good dancer," I thought.
So, I showed up for the first rehearsal, ready for my dance career to headily commence. All of the other students cast in the piece were actors - but I cockily thought nothing of it.
Leonore swept into the rehearsal room and pronounced:
"Before we discuss the piece, I think we should listen to the music I've selected."
She inserted a cassette tape into the room's stereo deck and pressed play.
I didn't see the shit-eating grin on Leonore's face until after I heard an all-too-familiar voice booming from the stereo:
"Hi Everyone. This is Jane Fonda. I hope you enjoy this next segment of my Workout Series. Now, get ready. Let's begin!"
The demanding ballet piece I thought I'd been picked for was actually a fugue of workout moves set to The Jane Fonda Workout. I was cast as one of two narcissistic "meathead actor types" in the fugue.
"Jane" was performed in the dead-center of a program of hyper-feminist, hyper-postmodern, hyper-serious dance pieces.
And, no, I don't have video footage of me preening and doing push-ups onstage.
Above: "Do the Jane Fonda". Goddamn...I want that duffle bag.