I struggled with every transition but I still felt vividly there

When you’re a kid, and you get on a horse, or roller skates, or into some Levi’s, in your head you look as heroic as someone you saw doing those things on telly. That’s all maturing is, learning how to spell parallel, and mapping the full difference between yourself doing a thing, and someone doing it who knows how. Then you stop doing the thing.

That’s why I went back to Ianthe Mellors’ dance class. I couldn’t master anything last time, and this time’s worse. It’s in a different gym – Frame Shoreditch – that has a foyer like Fight Club, everyone is a superbreed in a crop top and all the food is made of protein. And its title is Music Video, by which is meant, we’re doing a routine that you might find in a music video. Ianthe is a professional, a core dancer for Africa Utopia, the person vogueing in the MTV How To Vogue video. So I’m watching her, like a terrier watching a squirrel, because if I so much as blink I’ll forget where I even am, and she most certainly is in a music video. Somewhere in my head, so am I. This is like being 13 again, before I lost my innocence and realised I would never be Starlight Express.

You start without music, practising moves to Ianthe counting to eight, in batches of about three bars, slowed down to about half speed until it’s gone into your head. Then, when the music starts, you’re video-ready. The tolerance band of human physical intelligence is incredible. There were 13 of us; at the crap end, about three of us couldn’t move and learn at the same time, so in between each practice round we’d stand there baffled, trying to figure out what just happened. At the good end, there were about three naturals; their dance had personality. Their shoulders had character, their ankles had sass. “You could get away with a lot of errors, moving in that beautiful, natural, street-ish, music-video way,” I thought bitterly, “but it seems that you are not making a lot of errors.”

I struggled with every transition, left to right, forwards to backwards, I found swinging my arm while shaking my butt as intellectually demanding as reading Ulysses while trying to explain Doctor Who, but I still felt vividly there, part of the tableau. I could really carve a role for myself standing with my arms crossed, nodding.

But that would not be good exercise: you can’t figure out how hard you’re working when you’re mentally immersed. In retrospect, I’d say it was in the same range as commuter cycling; you feel better when you’ve done it than when you haven’t, but you don’t get a day of self-righteous exhaustion afterwards. It probably has a toning effect, but in quite specific places not necessarily all that aesthetic, like your upper chest. It would improve your flexibility over time, but only if you could figure out what you were doing enough to relax. It greatly improves your knowledge of the pop lyrics of the day. But I think the main reason you’d do it is for the simple joy of being alive

Source : The Guardian