Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Dance, Dance, Dance

One of Verna's best friends posted a picture of them yesterday from the late 1980s, when they were part of a Carnaval San Francisco troupe that was awarded the top honor that year. There was Verna, with a blue bustier-like bikini top, sparkly silver chains dangling, and a Carmen Miranda-like headdress atop her head, a tentative smile across her face. She never did like to be photographed or have attention upon her or be asked to speak in public. But she loved to dance, and until Elizabeth posted the photo I'd forgotten that Verna first inspired her, Elizabeth, who has been a dynamic force on the Bay area dance scene for more than 20 years.

I witnessed Verna's dance legacy again last night when Maya asked me to put on some music so she could perform for me and Miguel. OK, Miguel was busy on his computer and phone. 

"Surprise me (with the music)," Maya said.

So I chose Cannonball Adderley's uptempo version of "Fiddler on the Roof" because that jazz cat imbued the Eastern European tinged classic with enough rhythm and beat for even Elaine on Seinfeld. Maya moved gracefully and--dare I say--naturally through the song, weaving her arms and hands in perfect syncopation to the music. I may have been imagining it, but she seemed at one with the music, her feet stepping in time to the beat. just as I'd seen Verna do so many times before. It was as if Maya had unknowingly grabbed the torch as she glided across the living room carpet and taken on Verna's dancing abilities with ease.

Elizabeth's photograph made me sad, because it reminded me again of the vital force of a person we all lost just over five years ago, and how our kids are deprived of their mother as they grow up. But seeing Maya bop to the Adderley tune and then spend another 20 minutes playing dance class made me realize that Verna's legacy is quite strong.

Bryan Adams sang: "She's only happy when she's dancin'/There ain't no place she'd rather be/When she's dancin'/Just her heart and her soul and her fantasies," and I think that when Verna danced she lost herself in the music and the movement, and broke free from her insecurities and shyness and became the self she wanted to be. I saw the same spirit overtake Maya last night, and at a time when I missed Verna terribly it also made me very happy.

No comments:

Post a Comment