Recital: “I’ll never dance again!” – #atozchallenge

Recital: “I’ll never dance again!” Eighteenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2017 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont childhood” — where my genealogy journey began. Wish me luck!

Dance performances portray human drama and pathos, and my second recital as a child provided plenty of each — both onstage and off.

My mom started me in dance classes when I was five . I vaguely recall climbing a big flight of stairs to a studio above the Altamont, N.Y., Fire Dept. for my weekly lesson.

Ready to march off to my first recital at age five. I’m standing at attention by the porch at Whispering Chimneys, with Route 20 in the background. Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

My first recital came off pretty well. Sporting a harlequin outfit, I performed as Tweedledee the Clown in a group with a bunch of my little dance-class friends.

My onstage debut was so successful that Mom enrolled me for more classes the following year.

A sunlit storefront studio

These were held in a storefront studio, which I think was on the ground floor of the Altamont Enterprise building.

I remember a wall of mirrors with a long barre and sunlight flooding in through the front windows as my classmates and I practiced our ballet positions and pirouettes.

Hamming it up in the yard before my fateful second dance recital at age six. My tutu was powder pink! That’s our big crab apple tree behind me and the pine. Scan: Molly Charboneau

For my second recital, at age six, I wore a more sophisticated outfit of pink satin with a detachable tulle skirt — and ribbon-tied ballet shoes!

Before my recital, I hammed it up in the side yard at Whispering Chimneys for some photos.

All seemed well up until showtime. But when it was time to leave for the performance I didn’t feel well — at all.

Showtime drama

My mom did what mothers do: she put the back of her hand on my forehead. Not feeling a fever, she said I was probably just nervous. I protested, telling her I really didn’t feel well, but she was convinced it was nothing.

That’s when I pulled out all the stops, as children do: “If you make me go to this recital, I’ll never dance again!”

Alas, to no avail — so I got into my little pink tutu and off we went to Schenectady for the show.

Second recital program cover. I danced in the Mother Goose Ballet, a group performance. Scan: Molly Charboneau

After that, my memories are a blur. I recall being onstage and looking out for my parents in the audience during my Mother Goose Ballet number.

Next I remember being in my bedroom in the dark — tossing and turning and feeling a searing pain every time I coughed.

It turned out I had viral pneumonia. Mom told me years later that she had no idea because it came on without a fever.

“I thought you just had stage fright,” she said, and she felt terrible when I ended up being so sick.

My final image is of Mom sitting up all night at the little-kid desk in the corner of my bedroom — reading by my dad’s tiny desk lamp so she’d be nearby if I needed her.

Dance fever takes hold

After that, Mom never again enrolled me in dance class. Yet thanks to her earlier efforts my dance foundation was already set.

Soon enough dance fever replaced the childhood fever she failed to detect — and despite my hasty vow, I kept right on dancing.

Through junior high and high school (I never missed a dance). Through college and young adulthood (the freestyle and disco years). Later when I learned salsa, merengue, and cumbia  — and right up to last week when I went swing dancing with friends.

This enjoyable pastime is still a valued part of my life — and I’m grateful to my mom for getting me started all those years ago on the farm.

Up next – Standing up to the school bus bully. Please stop back!

 © 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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18 thoughts on “Recital: “I’ll never dance again!” – #atozchallenge”

  1. In your youthful reminiscences I see the wonderful woman you became…

    I too tried dance lessons–at way too advanced an age–with Bob Fitch! He was great but I have two left feet.

    I always wish that I had asked my parents to teach me to dance. They were wonderful dancers and could do it all–the Lindy, the Foxtrot, etc., etc.

    Thanks for the wonderful blogs!!

    1. Thanks for sharing your dance story! Dance is such a wonderful social outlet…I bought new dance shoes last night and can’t wait to try them 🙂

  2. I was so physically uncoordinated as a kid. Our school had an annual May Day program, a huge showcase of performance and dance. Eeek! I remember the agony of having to practice and perform each May, but managed to get through it. Later I took salsa and Latin dance in college and that was more fun, maybe because I was less self-conscious then and didn’t care how funny I looked. Maui Jungalow

    1. Love this May Day story, Courtney! When I was in fourth grade I remember we had a May Pole and an intricate ribbon dance we did around it. Glad you had a chance to learn Latin dance — that’s way more fun than performance dancing!

  3. How wonderful that you’ve continued dancing throughout your life, despite the shaky start. Dancing with pneumonia couldn’t have been fun. 😛

    1. Yes, I’m glad I kept at it! I actually enjoyed dancing when I was a child, despite my vow to give it up — I think that was just a desperation move 🙂

  4. Hello again, Molly!
    I wish you had a colored photograph of you in that pink satin and tulle!
    My mom once enrolled me in the dance activity in our school. All that Indian classical dancing… my teachers eventually told my mom that I wasn’t cut out for it! 😛
    Happy AtoZing! And thank you for buying my book. I hope you find it useful. Please feel free to write to me regarding any questions you may have!
    Chicky @

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lydia! This was one of those situations where neither my mom nor I realized how sick I was. But I survived to dance another day 🙂

  5. How terrible for your mom (you, too, but she made you dance sick)! I imagine that she was glad that you did not keep your I’ll never dance again promise.

    My husband and I took ballroom dance classes before our wedding 21 years ago. Neither of us was any good but it was fun to try. And we made it through the reception without stepping on everyone’s feet, which I suppose was the goal.

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador

    1. Ballroom is fun — such elegance and variety! But my preferred dance is swing, maybe because I grew up with rock and roll and RnB.

  6. My experiences at ballet are imprinted on the brain like yours. In one case the teacher advanced me a level so I got to wear a tutu on stage. The girls in my class, the same age as me, were mean to me as they didn’t get to wear tutus. An early lesson about jealousy.

  7. Poor you and poor Mom. I can imagine how bad she felt. Glad you didn’t quit dancing. Find me here.LINK

    1. Luckily, children are pretty resilient — so I got back out on the dance floor as soon as the dance fever hit in junior high!

  8. I wish I knew how to at least ballroom dance, but I always felt so uncoordinated and clumsy. Sometimes my husband and I think about taking a class, and maybe we will one of these days.

    After my last piano recital (in which I couldn’t remember how the piece went after the first few bars), I gave up recitals. Can’t remember if I actually gave up lessons as well at that point, but it probably wasn’t long after.

    *Visiting from A-Z*

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