Tuesday, July 15, 2008

All That Jazz

Over at encore.org - a site dedicated to those of us contemplating the “second act” of our lives - my motto is “when you stop learning you stop living”. As a demonstration that (unlike a lot of politicians and media gasbags) I actually practice what I preach, I did something for the very first time today at age 59 that is usually done at a far younger age.

I bought my first pair of jazz shoes.

This wasn't done on a whim, but rather in anticipation of the fact that this Saturday I'll be doing something else for the first time: attending a class on Fosse technique at Leaping Lizards, a local dance studio. “Come dressed in comfortable, loose-fitting clothing”, said the invitation. “Jazz shoes are ideal.”

That class isn't the result of a whim either. It's a result of being cast as King Charles (a.k.a. Charlemagne) in Stray Dog Theatre's production of the Stephen Schwartz musical Pippin. The late Bob Fosse's choreographed the 1972 Broadway original and since then everybody has pretty much followed his lead when it comes to the many dance numbers that help give the show it's unique character. Stray Dog decided to give everyone in the cast - including non-dancers like yours truly - the opportunity to learn some of the key moves.

It's good, as Mel Brooks noted, to be the King - particularly since King Charles isn't expected to do any fancy footwork. I am expected to join the rest of the ensemble in a couple of numbers, however, so my jazz shoes and I will be at the class this Saturday and next.

This isn't quite as crazy as it might sound since I've been taking aerobics classes for nearly thirty years now. Still, it's something new. Hopefully I won't embarrass myself too much or strain something trying.

Just call me a dancin' fool.

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