A desperate shopping spree at the Alameda Beauty Center has armed me with a dual voltage blow dryer and a one-inch barrel curling iron for international usage, plus theater-worthy cover up for dark circles. Now, I can leave the country.
In just over 24 hours, I’ll be boarding a Virgin Atlantic flight for Heathrow. In my carry-on. . . the essentials for this trip: the aforementioned appliances and the cover-up, along with two pairs of tap shoes, two pairs of jazz shoes, a leotard, black jazz pants and a sequined red ,white and blue, asymmetrical tunic. Strange things a 50-something mom bound for London can’t do without, but I’m going across the pond to dance ... to dance before the 2012 Summer Olympic crowd.
I’ve been dancing with Pamm Drake’s Dance/10 Performing Arts Center in Alameda since just over five years ago. What would inspire a then late-40-something year old mom to tie up a pair of tap shoes for the first time? The sight of unadulterated joy tapping down the street ... the Tap Dancing Christmas Trees pounding the pavement, during one of our Island’s most Mayberry RFD-like, heartwarming events, the City Hall tree-lighting ceremony.
On that December night in 2006, I pulled a human Douglas Fir aside and asked, “How do you become a Tap Dancing Christmas Tree?” She asked if I tapped. “Kinda!” I replied, vaguely recalling that I took a tap class 30-something years ago at San Jose State for a quarter. “Come Tuesday nights to tap class.” The rest, as they say, is history. Eleven months later, Thanksgiving 2007, I found myself in NYC, covered in shimmering evergreen, tapping down Broadway in Macy’s iconic parade.
Today, I find myself packing my costume to dance during the Olympics. Unbelievable. In all truth, while I might have some natural musicality and a small dose of athleticism (terms I learned on Dancing with the Stars), this is sooo not about me. This is about a very special and diverse group of dancers, who even with varying degrees of skill, talent, experience and age, somehow mesh and sweat and dream together to create some sincere toe-tapping fun. But we certainly couldn’t do it by ourselves.
We owe all the excitement to the director of Dance/10, Pamm Drake, who specializes in that “vision-thing.” The majority of the 17 dancers performing in London are 45-plus in age. And most of us “Dancing Moms,” as opposed to “Dance Moms”, would probably be content just to get back at our kids by making them suffer through two recitals a year, while we kick-ball-change and pas de bourree ourselves across the Koffman Stage.
But no ... not with Pamm Drake at the helm. Our studio makes a yearly appearance on a Disneyland Stage. That’s big! But that’s not big enough for Pamm ...
“Tons of cruise ships depart from Southern California every day. After Disneyland, let’s perform on a Mexican Riviera-bound cruise ship!” OK ... Arriba, arriba! Andale!
Or, there was the year she was thinking big-time kick line and mused, “The Rockettes are touring and coming to the Oakland Arena. Let’s apply to be their opening act!” She did. We didn’t, but you see what I mean. In the past 28 years, Dance/10 has performed at a handful of World Expos and events around the globe including Spain, China and Australia. There’s always something bigger and better on the horizon for Pamm and it ramps up our game.
And now, we take on the Olympics. The Dance/10 London team leaves next week. I leave in about 24 hours with my husband and daughter. This is more than a dance trip for us. England is home to most of my extended family. There will be relatives my husband and daughter have never met. There will be the sights. There will be the sports. There will be the dance.
The most heart-wrenching part of this nearly month-long trip will be leaving my son, my personal trainer, my love, all rolled into one, my labradoodle, Yankee Doodle, so named because we got him the weekend before the Fourth of July 2008. He came out more labra than doodle. Sheds in droves and his coat is not that soft, curly human hair you pay so much to get on a proper labradoodle. In fact, someone told me the other day they thought he was a golden retriever having a bad hair day. The only reassuring thought is that Yankee will be with his grandparents and his recently rescued Uncle Smiley, a little white terrier mix who’s every bit as cute as his nephew Yankee is handsome.
So I will indulge in this new activity of mine, blogging, when I reach the other side of the pond ... proud to represent my dance studio, my Island City, my country on a world stage, with dual voltage appliances in my carry-on, and a big dose of Yankee Doodle in my heart.