How MJ Inspired Me to Dance
DANCING THE DREAM
"Consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye, but the dance lives on. On many an occasion when I am dancing, I've felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I've felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists. I become the stars and the moon. I become the lover and the beloved. I become the victor and the vanquished. I become the master and the slave. I become the singer and the song. I become the knower and the known. I keep on dancing and then, it is the eternal dance of creation. The creator and creation merge into one wholeness of Joy. I keep on dancing and dancing.......and dancing, until there is only......the dance." ~Michael Jackson~Dancing the Dream 'Poems and Reflections by Michael Jackson' (Published 1992 by Doubleday)
The Early Years
The first time I read those words, I thought, "WOW". How did he know exactly how I feel when I dance? I had always felt this way, but never realized what those feelings were until I read Michael's words in Dancing The Dream. It gave me chills. Then I remembered, MJ HAD BEEN THE ONE WHO INSPIRED ME TO DANCE! I have been thinking about writing on this subject for a long time. I needed a little more motivation and a few weeks ago, I got just that! Before I begin I would like to thank a girl named Kelly for opening my mind to let these words flow out.
It was around 1977, I was ten years old and in the fifth grade. I grew up in an extremely small town with only a school, post office, a humble family-owned grocery store, and many, many churches, but as time passed, as with all "small towns", it has expanded and now has a hair salon, a cake shop, a Subway, a Dollar General, and even a Family Dollar store! The school has been renovated to a modern elementary school, and more people have moved into the area. At my little elementary school, which was Kindergarten through Eighth grades, we had most of the same extracurricular activities of a city school, such as Football, Cheerleading, Basketball, Softball, and Track. That now seems like a small list of activities compared to what is available to students today. We definitely did not have a "Dance Team", and so Cheerleading was the most similar activity to Dancing that I would be allowed to try out for in those early years. You see, at the age of ten, my Mama decided that I WOULD play Piano, but I wanted to be a Cheerleader and play Basketball! So my Mama bought an old Piano and my Daddy bought a regulation Basketball goal. The piano went into the front room of our home, which was sort of a sitting room with the front door leading to the outside, but was enclosed from the rest of the home, and my father, of course, set up the goal about 25 feet from the front door in the yard of our Country home. So, as my Mother sent me to Piano lessons, which I just hated, I also tried out for the Basketball and Cheerleading teams at school and made both teams! I was a good Basketball player, but I was a great cheerleader! In 1977 Cheerleading wasn't like it is today, and I wish it were, but it just was not. For me, it was an outlet to express myself. I always felt the need to express myself in a monumental way, so I threw myself into Cheerleading as well as Gymnastics, which was outside of school activities. I just didn't feel the emotion, release, or escape when trying to play that piano. Now, I know you may be thinking, "But playing Piano is in unison with music, singing and dance..", but for me, at the time, it was not. Movement is how I wanted to express myself. I wanted to MOVE! Not sit on a wooden bench and push keys with my fingers! I just couldn't put the two concepts together and Cheerleading, Basketball and Gymnastics allowed me to MOVE! Adjacent to the "piano room" in our home was a car-port, which my mother had my father turn into an enclosed room, she called the sun-room. This sun-room is where I would begin my journey into loving music and dancing. As I took those awful piano lessons, realizing I did not have the gift of playing music, but was excelling in Basketball and Cheerleading, I would sneak out of that "piano room" and practice Basketball and Cheerleading and my mother never knew, because the door from the inside of the home into the piano room was always closed. As I think back on it all today, maybe she did know and was allowing me do what she realized I felt more passion for in my soul. I don't remember exactly what year it was, but around the same time as 1977-1978 I began listening to American Top 40 Co-Created and hosted by Casey Kasem every Saturday morning for three hours, on a small radio that my Daddy had bought for me, in that little sun-room. I will never forget the words Casey Kasem would announce at the end of the show "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!". Words, that later in my life, would become part of my obsession; an obsession which is that I DO HAVE A DREAM. Most of the music I had heard up until this time was either a mix of Country music, such as Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings and Dolly Parton, or Gospel music, such as the Oak Ridge Boys and many different Gospel family quartets or singing groups, all on 8-Track Tapes in our car. I had to listen to those 8-track tapes over and over again on long vacations we would take as soon as school let out for summer break. Just the three of us, loading into the car and off we went, either visiting national parks, various theme parks or visiting my older siblings in other states. Soon, my Mama realized I would not be the next Mozart or Chopin and reluctantly allowed me to quit Piano lessons and focus on any extracurricular activity throughout my school years that would indulge that feeling of movement that was rooted deep in my soul.
The Rest of The Story
I am adopted. I am unlike anyone in my adopted family...The "Black Sheep" as they say. Don't get me wrong, I love my family and would not have it any other way, but I come from a very religious family. I was taught at a young age that DANCING AND LISTENING TO MUSIC other than church music was "A SIN"...WHAT? A SIN? How could something that made me feel so fulfilled in my soul, be a sin? And why was it that my Daddy's favorite music was NOT a Sin, but anything else was? This fact has always baffled me and still does to this day. As far back as I can remember, I LOVED listening and dancing to that music, on that little radio, in that sun-room every Saturday morning. I guess I was around 12 years old when my very religious, very strict parents allowed me to go skating at a small skating rink, just one town over...Maybe 5 miles away. It was at this skating rink when I first heard Michael.Jackson and the J5...DANCING MACHINE! Now, I had heard early J5 songs and would always move to their beats, when no one was looking, but when I was at that skating rink, no parents, no family around...I just lost myself in that song! I begged to go skating every Friday night and they let me! Well, most of the time, and I would hear 'Rock With You', 'Don't Stop til you Get Enough', and 'Off The Wall'. I thought I was in LOVE...Who was this singer?! since I lived in a small town, we could only receive three TV channels. ABC, NBC, and CBS...I was never allowed to watch the J5 on CBS, because, remember, that kind of dancing and music was a "SIN"! But one FATEFUL night, CBS presented MOTOWN 25 and MJ was on there and did his OWN thing, without the brothers...Billie Jean...I was mesmerized. I had chills all over my body when I saw Michael perform all alone on that stage. My mama knew. She saw the look on my face. As soon as THRILLER came out, I was standing in line to buy it. She was with me. I wore out my cassette tape and had to buy another one. I had the album too. Michael's music was in my heart. Michael's music was in my soul and it would never leave. I dance today and I dance well. I dance because MJ inspired me to dance and I will forever remember that it was Michael Jackson that gave me that inspiration, through his music, his performances and through his music videos, that I sometimes had to sneak to watch at my friends houses....We didn't get MTV until probably the 2000s, in the home I grew up in, so I could only watch it when at friends or my sister's homes. After, Motown 25, I joined every extra-curricular activity I could that afforded me the chance to dance; all the way through high school and beyond. I am 42 years old and every Saturday night my husband and I go to a club where a DJ plays and I dance all night long...I dance for the feeling I get deep in my soul and I dance....... for MJ.