I was as nervous—and then some—for our performance than for any musical appearance I can ever recall. Before we danced, my mouth felt like I’d been eating dry peanut butter mixed with sand, and my hands were so cold it seemed as though I’d been soaking them in a bucket of ice water for a week. I felt sorry for Jackie in her sleeveless top. I hoped she wouldn’t cringe when I touched her shoulder.
And then the music started; music, which has been my friend, my go-to safe haven, for most of my life. This would be the secure boat I would sail for the next three stormy minutes. Jackie gave me a reassuring look and we were off. By the time the intro was over and Hinojosa began singing, I was no longer dancing, or sailing, I was flying—anyway, it felt like that to me. It was over much too soon.
Linda Yohn, the renowned long-time host of jazz programs on WEMU, was the MC for the evening. After our dance, she asked me how performing a dance was different from playing music. In all the most important ways, I told her, it’s the same; you look to connect with your partner and with your audience. Of course, I needed to learn a whole new vocabulary, but the feeling was the same.
I came away from the experience with a whole new appreciation for the artistry of dancers and with a great deal of gratitude for the opportunity to learn something brand-new in my sixth decade. I also feel a little braver for when another new, exciting, and scary adventure might present itself. I’ll for sure say yes again.