Fly Like A Thunderbird, Sting Like A Bee

From the time I was in grade school until I was in my early 20s, I looked forward to every opportunity I had to dance or sing or act or whatever means I could release my artistic expression. The community tours with Erie Playhouse’s Showstoppers, the Youtheatre All Stars, Traveling Showcase, or even the multitude of performances I had to do for my mom’s or dad’s different organizations or the convalescent home for which my sister worked, all excited me.

I even was excited when I had to sing “The Lord’s Prayer” acapella at one convention and screwed up the words and darted my panic-stricken eyes at Mom. Leave it to me to mess up the words to a song everyone knows. We’ll pretend I didn’t say those soap-in-the-mouth words in my mind immediately after or in that blank moment. Seriously, Melissa, while singing a prayer?

Of course, once I began high school and beyond, people actually started paying me for these fun gigs. Even fun-ner! And the small community tours eventually expanded to tours of other countries when I hit the professional world.

Then I became an old woman. And, at my age, I’ll admit, that fiery desire to perform for just anyone in just any location has dissipated. Been there, done that. For too many years.

As much as I love being part of Yow Dance, as much as I believe in its product and in its founder/artistic director Eric Yow, I’m not overly enthusiastic anymore to do outreach performances in locations without an actual stage or curtains or dance floor.

But then.

God never fails to remind me that, yes, even at my age, I’m not above donating my time to make an impact on someone. Who do you think you are, Melissa? 

The company performed last Thursday at Quest Inc.’s Camp Thunderbird, a wonderful place for people with special needs. At Wednesday’s rehearsal, we saw pictures of the space in which we’d be dancing — a space in which the “dance floor” was actually concrete painted with a colorful U.S. map, and there was no curtain. These obstacles required some altering of choreography and costuming and staging. Fun? I didn’t even wear false eyelashes for this performance. If you know me, you know I wouldn’t dare!

Modern dance is typically done barefoot. But we wore tennis shoes. Not dance sneakers. Tennis shoes. Eric’s choreography typically consists of many dives to and rolls on the floor. But we added arm gestures or turns. In tennis shoes. What does that mean for the dancers? Not only are we fighting the physical barriers, but we’re also fighting to remember all the changes in choreography. Yeah … sorry about that, Eric. Wups. I know, I know, YOU are the choreographer.

Anyway, my slap in the face was the incredible reaction the campers had to us being there. If that weren’t enough of a slap (I get it, God), Eric and David Scott attended the campers’ talent show last night and sent me a video text message of Mr. Miami, a camper who’d touched my heart, saying, “Hi Melissa, it’s me, your friend (…) from Miami. I just wanna say I love you, I care about you, you’re a great dancer and good person. And you inspire me. So, I just wanna say I care about you and hopefully someday soon I’ll come back to camp, and it’ll be sooner than later. Love you!”

Please bear with this old woman and watch her attempt to dance in tennis shoes and fudge through the alterations. (This one’s for you, Mr. Miami!)

Choreography: Eric Yow

Song: “Still Hurting” from The Last Five Years

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  1. My dear Melissa, As I have always told you, it doesn’t matter the place time, etc. You just move me inside everytime I see you dance. You may have had sneakers on, on a cemented painted floor, but lady, you looked like you were on the biggest stage ever. I am still enjoying inside the beautiful dance.

    Yes, tell Eric I thank him for the choreography. So beautifully performed. Your biggest fan.

  2. Melissa: Eric called on the way back to his apartment from this outreach;and, he was so excited. After watching you performance, I understand why. You were amazing as always;but, your audience was very special an in awe of your movement. Congratulations on a beautiful thing you and Yow Dance did.

    1. Hi Mama Yow!

      It was definitely an experience we all will remember for a long time.

      Eric filled me in on the rest of the evening’s events from their talent show. I am so sad I had to miss it. But, then I wouldn’t have this awesome video message. I plan to keep it forever.

      Miss you!

  3. Wow…Missy I really enjoy watching you dance….makes me kind of miss it….You just seem so at peace dancing…thank you for sharing! My daughter is starting ballet this year at age four…so I hope to live through her..