O joy! If we play word association, the first thing that pops into my head when I think of dance is JOY . Something magical happens when you combine music and movement. The rhythm and beat are like the strings on a puppet pulling and drawing the limbs as the body sways in time. It is almost trance like. As a child, dancing transported me to another realm. Now at my age, it has the dual benefit of rejuvenation and enjoyable exercise.

So it isn’t surprising that my daughter and son are both enthusiastic dancers. The boy break dances and the girl does ballet and contemporary dance. It’s definitely in the genes. When he says I need to dance, I understand. When she says I miss dance, I understand. I revel in the fact that my children and I have a common interest. There’s a connection there which, although largely unspoken, expresses itself in a quiet inner joy, for me at any rate. The youngest one… well, she gamely put on the pink leotard and tutus for a few months in Primary One before she balked at the pointy toe exercises. It’s not for everyone I guess. She embraced sports thereafter. I am equally thrilled that she found her ‘thing’

There are days, (especially when the knees scream, crunch and crack) when I wish that I had started dance 20 years earlier and not left it so late. The 20 interim years were spent ferrying the children back and forth to music, dance, sports and tuition classes.

Those were the days of helping them discover their ‘thing’ while I kept mine smouldering on the back burner. I watched them twirl, pirouette and run as they stretched their wings while I did mental somersaults, foot tapping to the music on the sidelines. All the while I was assailed by images of daughter’s tottering baby steps superimposed with the elegant tiptoed poise of a Bolshoi ballerina. The joy then was of a different kind. It was tinged with pure parental pride.

These days while the limbs are still fairly cooperative, the mind thinks I am more able than my poor besieged body can feasibly (and visibly) achieve. In place of pride, there is a sense of throwing caution to the wind. There is enough self-confidence not to care what others think of a 52 year old (there I said it!) doing the fandangos or shimmying…on stage in full regalia. There is a sense of urgency too, if not now, then when? In any event, this is my ‘thing’ in full blaze, bubbling over, no longer simmering on the back burner. O joy!

I don’t expect the kids either to enjoy or not be embarrassed by watching their mother strut and undulate on or off stage, but at least I hope they will be proud of me. There is the shared passion that transcends the generational divide, and besides, it doesn’t harm the parent-child relationship for the grown child to see another side of their aging mother – a side that they too will encounter one day and discover that as the years roll on and steps falter, they will continue to dance to the beat of their own drum.

Stella Chin is a lawyer and a happy wife and mother of 3 children who enjoys writing, while dancing keeps her on her toes.

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