Ever wonder what if you could dance?

This is a story of what the professor (aka ‘me’) does when the students are away …

It’s been a long pandemic, and there’s been lots of time to think. I thought so much I wrote a book. -I like to challenge myself. Just before the pandemic hit in 2020 I had the privlidge of attending a few of the intro to Jazz Dance classes at my univeristy. I made it to 4 lessons before we were all locked down, and it was the best. The very best part was those undergraduate first years just thought I was another (albeit old) student. Nobody laughed at me. Nobody judged me. It was amazing.

Dancing was one of those things I never did and always wanted to do. I did gymnastics when I was little – from age 6-10 and I was just learning no-handed cartwheels when someone mentioned competition and I quit instantly. (that and a dislike of heights) Then when I was 11 we moved to another state and nobody ever knew I did it. When the social norms of ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘you don’t do that’ hit, I didn’t challenge them. Looking back it’s interesting how a roll of the dice can change a path. Some 40 years on, I’ve learned not to roll the dice, but to do things. And why not? That idea of ‘going for it’ makes me think of this video. I think at the time people thought it was really funny, but honestly – respect for this woman.Why don’t more of us do things like this?

Jump back two weeks…

At the start of this holiday (it’s Easter/Spring Break here), I had several students scheduled for tutorials. One of the students emailed to cancel (for good reasons) and so I thought … maybe I could book a room for a half hour…

Ever wonder what the professor does when the students are away? I danced. I didn’t invent it- I have a good eye and can copy things I see. The important thing is I had a lot of fun doing it.

How many of us have not done something becuase someone might be looking or listening? I know I have. -and at 48 (and a half) perhaps it’s time to actually be confident in myself. It’s not fancy or professional, but I had so much fun, and you know, I can. I bet there’s something you have avoided doing… maybe you’ll dance like nobody’s watching too.


  1. Stephen Downes

    I remember once taking ballroom dancing lessons for a semester when I was teaching in northern Alberta (so that would be 93-94). I probably couldn’t reproduce what I learned today but I learned about the *experience* of ballroom dancing, which was what really mattered (the same applies actually to a semester’s worth of fencing lessons I took in the 1980s).

    Meanwhile, I totally hear you about the challenge of being confident in yourself. My own version of the ‘putting yourself out there’ video I think is this exercise video I did on TikTok. https://www.tiktok.com/@stephen_downes/video/7054910244555590918 For someone like me (63 years old, 320 pounds) exercise is something you are supposed to do privately (indeed, shamefully). But I feel at 63 being able to get out there and do something is an accomplishment. As are your dancing lessons.

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