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Five, Six, Seven, Eight Tappin' The Blues Away
And a One and a Two...
It's the day after I did my first solo tap dance routine at the Cancer Support Community's "First Open Mic" event on October 7, 2011 and I'm still in shock. Did I really get up in front of an audience, with a cane, and receive a standing ovation? Did people come up to me afterwards and tell me they were proud of me for doing it? Was it a miracle that I could dance at all? I'm happy to say a resounding, "Yes!", to all of these questions because it actually did happen. The best part of it was that despite my battle with breast cancer, a recent diagnosis of osteoporosis, and complications caused by my re-locating to a new residence, I still pulled through and got up there. Now that it's behind me it takes me back to the time I choreographed and performed in a tap piece for a group of Special Education students at "Franklin Elementary School" in 2008. Both events represented significant milestones that helped me get through two very difficult times. The former, was my struggle to regain my eyesight after contracting scleritis and the latter was with cancer. Working on those tap numbers helped me focus on something more positive than health problems. I can't think of anything more therapeutic than that.
Tap Dancing for the Cancer Support Community's Open Mic:
It all started with a casual remark, that I made in "The Writing Group" I attend every Thursday at CSC, about tap dancing. "I didn't know you tapped?," the woman who would later become one of the show's volunteer coordinators exclaimed. At the time she was trying to put together a social event where we could all express ourselves creatively for our family and friends. She's a real force of nature, who's not only capable of rallying talent together, but also of singing so beautifully you visualize Julie London and Ella Fitzgerald in a swanky nightclub. Her original goal was to find a venue for another writer in our group to perform her amazing pieces. Multi-talented, as well, as an actress and a writer this woman's gift for taking her life and fantasy and weaving them into literary magic definitely deserved the spotlight.
When I saw CSC's new September/October 2011 Calendar of Programs section, "Is This Thing On?!!!" where it said, "We welcome all CSC members to step up to the mic and share...How about a tap dance?" I knew it was time for me to resume performing. Before I could lose my nerve I signed up as a performer and then called to RSVP. I had been playing around with some moves and combinations I learned from various tappers and off of old Hollywood musicals, so I put them all together and chose the song "In Walked Bud" by Thelonius Monk to accompany me.
Putting Together My Costume:
As I worked on it complications arose, especially regarding my costume and dance surface, so I had to straighten those out before I was ready. I'd just splurged on one of my favorite Japanese fashion magazines, "KERA", and I studied it for ideas. They had a lot of kilts and knee-high socks featured so I decided to wear a plaid kilt/skhort I'd bought at "Contempo Casuals" in the '80s, my white cotton tuxedo shirt, navy argyle knee-high socks I'd bought at "Judy's" in the '80s, and a navy blue Civil War cap I'd picked up at "The Surplus Store" for $13.95. To top it off I used my black cane as a prop.
At our dry run, about a week before the show, I brought my wooden practice board to dance on but it kept sliding around on the floor so I then tried to tap on CSC's hardwood floor but it was too slippery. I'd rented two dance floors from a party supply store in Mar Vista so I'd just have to wait until I installed them to see how everything would work. That meant I probably wouldn't be able to practice on them until right before showtime.
The Day of the Show:
Finally, on the day of of the show, after I'd changed into my costume and done another dry run on the floors to my CD, I felt ready to dance. Sitting through the poets, singers, interpretational and inspirational readers and talkers, before me, I tried to remain calm. Then when I heard my introduction I walked up to the front and said something like, "I hope you enjoy this." My mind went blank, my feet moved with a mind of their own and I felt better than I've felt in a long time. Standing up, cheering and clapping I knew everyone there was enjoying it as much as I was.
Tapping Through The Stage Fright
Have you ever performed in front of others?
Cancer Doesn't Have to Be the End of Your Life
Cancer Support Community Helped Me Rediscover My Love of Tap
- Cancer Support Community - Benjamin Center - Home
The Cancer Support Community (CSC) is the founding facility of what is now the largest cancer support organization worldwide. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, our programs include support groups, stress reduction classes, individual counse