Her arms arc over her head and in an instant she twirls around the dance floor with a carefree exuberance. Although people are watching her, she continues to twirl, without feeling distracted from the movement in the crowd. I watch, my hands are nervous, gripping the iPhone so that I cam film my daughter dancing at her first solo performance. For months she practiced the moves, with help from her dance teacher so that she could perform at her Uncle’s wedding. For four and half minutes, she twisted her hands, smiled and moved with little effort across the dance floor. My butterflies grew outside of my stomach, holding my breath so that she wouldn’t miss any of the steps.
At her age, I never recalled exhibiting enough confidence to dance or to have an urge for that kind of attention. At eight, I focused on blending in and burying my head in a book. My parents still preserved some of their customs from India and I become a visceral way for them to hold on to their roots. At school, I sported looks that spoke of children who attended school in India, with two oily braids substituting as friends. My clothes consisted of skirts that hit my ankles and long-sleeve shirts in the middle of the Texas summer. One word comes to mind. Awkward. The pimples on my face, glasses and a crooked nose didn’t help further my foray into gaining confidence as I got older.
I remember listening to my middle school and high school friends talking about their excitement for an upcoming dance at school. I never attended those dances because no one asked me and even if someone did, my Indian parents would say no. It is easy to blame our past for our preoccupations in the present. Even though my apprehension regarding dancing started young, as an adult, I’ve noticed my fear in shaking my bum and raising my hands like no care exists in the world.
I will maneuver myself on the dance floor, clap and hold hands with my daughter and sway my hips from the side to side. But that is the extent of my dancing skills. I will not give in to the music. Some feeling will always stop me. I think too much when I am on the dance floor.
My daughter’s ease in dancing in front of an audience or raising her hands anytime she lands on the floor served as sharp contrast and reminder of my reservations. I am ecstatic that she enjoys the freedom of not caring and embraces every opportunity she has to glide across the dance floor.
I am not a dancer. But some reservations begin and end with me.
I love that my daughter is a dancer.