I have Al Gore disease, and I want to find a cure

arts and entertainment, dancing, personal

On the piano, I can play a song such as Mary Had a Little Lamb:
– in any key
– at any tempo
– in almost any style (waltz, tango, jazz, whatever)
– combined with anything else
– even blindfolded.

I have been known to beautifully blitz through Chopin’s quite challenging Black Key Etude. I can play Mendelsohn and Muppets with equal aplomb. In short, as a pianist I’m accomplished, creative, and fun.

All of this is of no value, however, in curing my bad case of Al Gore disease on the dance floor.

Excepting Mr. Gore’s recently redemptive and actually laugh-inducing hosting of Saturday Night Live, the guy’s certainly not known for a warm and creative sense of humor.

Same with me on the dance floor.

I suffer from Al Gore disease.

Intellectually, I know what’s what. I can count to 8. Even higher if necessary.

I know enough not to be a health hazard on the dance floor, but I lack the creative wit to do pretty much anything other than what I’ve been specifically taught to do. Step here, move here, and so on.

I watch people like Elliott and Dave and Cianna and I think… they’re so fun, so funny, so wildly goofy and creative yet grounded… why can’t I be like that? Why isn’t my brain wired in that way?

Some say, Adam, be patient… practice… keep taking classes.

But that’s not it.

The folks who “got it” have never needed classes to shine. You can’t teach someone, IMHO, to be intuitively clever and inventive.

I’m similarly skeptical about the same issue in creative writing and in music. You can teach people what NOT to do (avoid bad grammar, don’t use lots of tritones in a lullaby), but how the hell can you teach someone to be spontaneous, to think up something no one has ever done before?

I don’t think it’s possible.

Over time, perhaps I can lick my bad case of Al Gore Disease by learning hundreds-enough moves and patterns and then methodically, almost mathematically putting them together and practicing them at home. To the casual follow then, I may appear spontaneous, maybe even fun.

That is, until that person dances with me again that night, and notices hmmm… isn’t that similar to what he did last time?

My follow friends reassure me that most follows don’t or even can’t remember what a particular lead did in their last dance, and so while we may feel painfully boring, they’re not necessarily all that bored with us.

Still, I can’t help but admire and envy those leads for whom every dance is fresh, new, different, and exploratory. They’re not counting, they’re not memorizing, they’re just feeling and moving.

Damn, I wish I could do that.

4 comments… add one
  • dave Feb 15, 2003

    y’know, Adam—‘tis the perfect topic for SwingTalk: Swing Chat…and um, which Dave are you referring to?

  • Adam Feb 15, 2003

    Hey Dave,

    This is indeed one of the rare cases in which I’ve discussed a personal issue and not obscured relevant names.  Luckily, in this case, there are many Daves in the scene.  And besides, I pretty much admire all you Daves anyway 😀

    Re: SwingTalk… to be honest, I don’t think my serious and/or personal observations are very fitting there at this point in time for a variety of reasons.

  • Crazy Kate Feb 15, 2003

    I’m probably not the best of people to give advice about dancin’ since I’ve been doing it since I was 5, but just put on some music and groove to it.  Don’t try to have any sort of technique or try to stay within boundaries, just let the music take over your body…  😉

  • dave Feb 17, 2003

    Adam,

    I think it’s true in dance as it’s true in sports…in basketball, there’s Michael Jordan, and then there’s the rest.  In Lindy Hop…hm…I’d say there’s Steven Mitchell, and then there’s the rest of us.

    Not to say there’s not going to be a Kobe Bryant of dancers who’ll come along, but we all have dancers we’d like to watch, to get inspired by, to emulate even.

    It does take a lot of work, and part of the battle might be to find your own niched.  In basketball, there are shooters, slashers, big bruisers, etc.  Not everyone can be like Mike.

    Same as in dancing.

    But, you can always work on stuff of your own, find your own niche, etc.

    To be creative?  Hm…no easy answer to that, except maybe: “Let go, Luke.  Trust your feelings.”

    Good luck, my young padawan.

What do you think?