A Girl Named Michelle and Men’s Dance Shoes

Posted on April 7, 2012 by


I’ve always thought I could be a great dancer. Given the chance, by this time I could be touring foreign lands to reveal my amazing dance skills. However, I was not given the chance. I’ve never been to a dance class, and the only practice I’ve had is when I prance around the house in my leggings. If only I’d come to Georgia sooner…

I’ve been taking dance lessons for three weeks now. Let me be clear: these aren’t salsa, tap, or country dance lessons. No, these are Georgian – stand-on-your-tiptoes, spin-at-insanely-fast-rates, keep-your hands-free, learn-in-another-language –lessons. Our dance lessons started out at two days a week at the school in the next village with Gio mas (my dance teacher). It was going to be me, my (American) friend, and two Georgian high school students. Somewhere along the road we added a third lesson and another student. Oh, and my name became Michelle*.

After the first lesson, I was sure I would be great. I understood the steps, and I caught on pretty quickly. When I got home an hour later, however, I couldn’t remember any of it. By the next week, we were adding hands to the steps, and a few lessons later, we increased the tempo exponentially. My inability continued to prevail. The past two lessons, we’ve come in a few minutes early when another lesson is finishing. If I wasn’t already convinced I will never be a dancer, watching the small children dance the same thing I’m learning with much more grace and coordination quickly eliminated any remnants of that dream. They’re good. They have legit outfits. They keep tissues in their belts. I wear jeans. And I may have accidentally bought men’s dance shoes.

Through it all– the amazing, dancing children, the men’s shoes, the new name of Michelle, the confusion of misunderstanding Georgian instructions, the fall I took after running and jumping back to my spot, the practicing of dance in my kitchen – I still love it. I practice spinning, spotting, walking with “free” hands, and dancing on my toes with the intensity of a real dancer. Maybe Gio mas has it right; maybe Michelle is my second half – the dancing half – who has been waiting 23 years to shine. She’s a little dusty and a bit out of shape and her calves hurt from walking up on her toes for hours, but she’s a dancer; she’ll pull through. In any case, I will continue to dance. I will count out beats in Georgian. I will only wear my dance shoes for dance lessons. I will practice upstairs in the open room. I will learn “left” and “right” in Georgian. And I will respond to “Michelle.”


*If you know me, my name is not Michelle. It is, in fact, Andrea. Multiple attempts have been made to correct my dance teacher – in fellow Georgian’s Georgian and in my rudimentary Georgian – but to no avail; my name remains Michelle.