November 9, 2004

Take a turn on the Happy Dance floor

Filed under: Art and About Dance — admin @ 2:47 pm

My husband was taking a continuing education class in Internet security when the topic of The Happy Dance came up. His instructor, a professor at Georgetown University who also does consulting, said that once, out of the corner of his eye, he had seen a computer engineer Happy Dancing after a major breakthrough with a programming problem. The wordless Happy Dance communicated everything anyone needed to know about how the solution was coming along.

For this instructor, Happy Dancing has become one marker of identifying someone who is personally invested in his work, as opposed to someone who is just doing a job. Something like a Happy Dance can tell him about an employee’s personal investment in finding a good result. Happy Dancing is enthusiasm personified. This instructor went on to say that when interviewing job applicants, he will ask them to get up and do their Happy Dance.

As my husband related this story to me, I became intrigued. I had always considered Happy Dancing something done in front of trusted family, friends or co-workers. It didn’t occur to me that one could even Happy Dance on demand in front of a prospective employer, or that one could Happy Dance without the proper emotional trigger.

My husband firmly believes that Happy Dancing is not something to be done on demand, but I admit, a couple of times since this discussion I have  tried to Happy Dance for no particular reason. It’s a little tough to get started, but sort of like method acting, when I conjure a past achievement that led to a Happy Dance, I can get the moves back into my body fairly quickly. And sort of like smile therapy, doing a Happy Dance for no particular reason made me feel happy. Who knows? Maybe perfecting the ability to do a calculated Happy Dance could affect a person’s over health and well-being?

I know you want to get up and try spontaneous Happy Dancing right now, so I’ll wrap this up as quickly as I can.

I am still intrigued by this classroom discussion on a topic that has never come up in any conversation in which I have been a part. I asked my husband if he has seen Happy Dancing in his workplace. He said he has. He has even Happy Danced himself. He works for a bank that staunchly adheres to the traditional corporate environment model you would expect from a bank. Here I have been imagining a lot of starched collars and instead, they are Happy Dancing.

I have worked in several corporate environments, many of which were staffed by very creative individuals. I can’t ever remember seeing a Happy Dance, unless people were dancing behind closed doors or in meetings to which I wasn’t invited. I don’t know if this means anything, but I find it interesting.

What I like best about the Happy Dance discussion is that it has taught me that spontaneous explosions of primal artistic expression are happening everyday in normal, everyday interactions, whether I know about them or not. It seems to be evidence that an artful soul does indeed live within all of us, and sometimes it can even overwhelm us to move to our own groove in celebration of a personal victory, no matter who’s with us or where we’re located at the time. This knowledge alone makes me want to do a Happy Dance.

March 27, 2004

The mop-footed shoft shoe

Filed under: Art and About Dance — admin @ 3:51 pm

I dance while I’m cleaning. I don’t mean in that surrealistic ‘50s-housewife-pitching-a-cleaning-product way. I don’t put on make-up and set my hair before I do it. I don’t even turn on music. I do put on two custom designed mopping shoes, tap into the show tunes selections in my mind and slide my feet around the hardwood, slate and vinyl surfaces in my house. I call it the mop-footed soft-shoe.

I love to dance old-fashioned ballroom style. If I could come back as a different person, I would be Ginger Rogers. Actually, I would be Vera-Ellen, but not many folks under 50 know who I’m talking about. My husband doesn’t like to dance, and therefore I don’t do a lot of dancing in my daily life. Dance clubs aren’t for me, and just putting on some music and be-bopping alone isn’t very satisfying.

I also like to clean. Not only do I enjoy a clean house, but I find that efficiently cleaning a 2700 square foot house is a great cardiovascular workout. On cleaning days, I don’t feel guilty about not having a gym membership or being too lazy to put on my walking shoes and walking.

My three-year-old has a bit of an obsessive compulsive streak and likes to clean too. When he was old enough, I started devising ways to make cleaning a game. Back when I was pregnant with him, I switched to a nontoxic white vinegar and water mixture which is a wonderful cleaner and I feel totally safe with it around my kids.
Cleaning bathrooms and kitchens with a 3-foot person is easy. He does all the low surfaces and I do the high ones. He lost interest in vacuuming a while ago, so I do that solo. One challenge I had was cleaning the floors with a partner. It was too easy for a wet mop to get out of control and leave a sloppy mess all over everything once Tyrian had shown me his special mopping techniques. One thing I don’t like to do is clean up after cleaning. Getting on our hands and knees with rags wasn’t fun for either of us. I tried giving him a squirt bottle with vinegar water and had him spray while I mopped up, but he decided it was more fun to supersaturate one spot rather than cover the entire floor surface. But that one spot sure was clean.

One day, I had the idea of having us both put rags under our feet and shuffle our way across the floor. It was the beginning of the mop-footed soft-shoe. It’s actually more like ice skating than soft-shoe since the point is never to lift your feet while the rag is picking up dirt. We slip and slide, make figure eights, lunge under tables and point our toes to get into corners. No one has actually twirled yet, but maybe someday that will make it into the choreography. We cover a lot of floor fast, and the weight of our bodies on the rags picks up dirt very effectively.

Now for the part that will probably frighten my friends and family: I do the mop-footed soft-shoe when the kids aren’t around too. That’s why I upgraded from rags to a pair of replacement mop heads that fit my feet surprisingly well. I’m getting my dancing fix while I’m cleaning, with all the wonderful spiritual and physical rewards dance brings to the human body. That’s what I call clean and refreshing.