Square-dancers

Beyond your impressive academic credentials and extracurricular accomplishments, what else makes you unique and colorful? We know nobody fits neatly into 500 words or less, but you can provide us with some suggestion of the type of person you are. Anything goes! Inspire us, impress us, or just make us laugh. Think of this optional opportunity as show and tell by proxy and with an attitude.

“Honey, do you mind teaching my friends and me to dance?” Asked my grandmother in a thoughtful tone.

“Ok, no problem,” I answered without a second thought. Confident in my experiences, I became a dancing instructor in her “elderly dancers’ community.”

At the little square alongside the Gan River near my neighborhood, I found myself standing in front of a group of people in their sixties or seventies, with outdated stereos blasting loud and old-fashioned music. At that moment, as a life-long dancer and a cheerleader, I felt all my past experiences of performing useless.

Every day, my “students” welcomed me in the same way– “Oh, here comes our teacher!”And every day, I silently walked to the front, turned on the music and got into position. Already familiar with the routine, I demonstrated movements to them much as I had when practicing with my cheerleading team. Then, I deconstructed the movements one by one to help them digest quickly. They did their best to follow, but their age forbad smooth movements and their dances often ended up awkwardly. Although they learned diligently and passionately, I still sometimes felt a bit frustrated caused by the distortion of their dance from the original choreography. Regardless, facing those students who gathered and wait for my arrival at 6 p.m. every day, I felt an intense obligation to be a good teacher.

Slowly but resolutely, this small community of 10 dancers had expanded into a big group of 30, all of whom earnestly anticipated my arrival every day.

One late autumn day, I was belated by an urgent matter. As I rushed toward the square, I heard the familiar music playing out already. Across the street, I saw my “students” dancing on their own. Removed from the position of a teacher, I stopped worrying about correcting their postures or pace, but began to appreciate their rhythm and expressions as a bystander. Even though their movements were neither powerful nor exact (and a few would always miss a move completely), they displayed a different meaning of dancing than what I was accustomed to. Backgrounded by the skyline of the city, shiny river and moonlight, their dances were art in their own ways.

The phrase “dancing as an expression” has been a cliché, but at that night, I did enhance my appreciation towards the dance of those seniors as a different form of expression. My adhesion to dancing as an expression of strength, coordination or showy technical movements was challenged by a sense of subtle harmony, which incorporates their affections.

Then, I quietly crossed the street and joined the dancers. I closed my eyes and forgot about the beat, postures or strength of my own movements, but simply enjoyed the music, the wind and the moonlight with all my students. At that time, I felt as one with them, regardless of the differences in our ages.

Leave a Comment