Tuesday, September 13, 2016
I sat down and watched Dancing with the Stars last night - it's been awhile since I've done that. When it was new, I watched every show for every season. My mom loved the show too, and we often talked about the dancers. I was in Chicago for the 3rd season premier when I got a call from my mother. She was so excited, she had just seen Emmitt Smith dance with Cheryl Burke and she was blown away. She was amazed that a football player could be so graceful. I always felt bad because she passed away before she got to see her star win the mirror ball.
I come from a dancing family. My father was an adagio dancer. He traveled the summer after high school with a troupe in order to make money for college. This is my dad Pat with his twin sister Virginia.
He would do some of the lifts with my sister and me when we were children. I always thought he was the strongest man I ever met.
My mom and her sister took dancing when they were young. The story is that my grandma enrolled them in dance so my grandpa wouldn't have enough money to go out drinking. He was a big, strong Norwegian man. Here are a couple photos of them - my mom is on the right side in both.
When I was a teen my mother started a dance studio in our neighborhood. What a fun and easy way to make money teaching dance! But I also danced professionally starting around 16. I was with a small group called The Jan Gillespie Dancers - because our boss was Jan Gillespie. Her husband was a band leader so she was connected - we did a short tour at a nightclub downtown 6 nights a week. My dear father would get up at midnight, drive downtown and make sure he was right at the top of the stairway to take me home. We also did fairs and were entertainment for large company meetings. It was fun while it lasted. I am the blonde (not my real hair) dancing next to Jan Gillespie (on my right) and Lorraine, a former Radio City Hall Rockette, on my left. The next girl was my best friend Marcia, also 16.
My younger sister danced too, but she was best known for gymnastics. In the 60's she was very good and won several first places. My favorite thing, she would do back handsprings up and down the gym floor - seemed like she could go on forever!
So it was really fun to sit and watch the dancers last night. 3 of my favorite dancers were back and I enjoyed all the stars. I was amazed at Marilou Henner who is 64 and Maureen McCormick at 60 - maybe there's still hope for me yet! My favorite was former Governor Rick Perry - not because he danced so well but because he really enjoyed what he did. Dancing, after all, is an expression of joy and I truly miss it In my life!