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Scene4 Magazine: Claudine Jones
Claudine Jones
Scene4 Magazine-inView

september 2008

No Hamstrings in Heaven

I got hooked on So You Think You Can Dance—even though it’s FOX and I should be boycotting them—but I can’t miss LOST, so…screw it! 

Love those bodies. Brings up some kind of ancient connection to dance that thankfully I’ve never mislaid.  Folks at work sometimes give me a ‘look’ when I can’t stand still in the corridor—it’s not much, just a jog in place or an off-to-see-the-wizard or a kung-fu arm thing—but it defines the space around me.

Weirdly, I was able to YouTube a couple of my favorite bits from a few weeks of SYTYCD and show them to my partner; then, suddenly the very ones I want are ‘no longer available’. Even on other sites that expressly say that they are not using the videos commercially (maybe they are—what do I know? Number of clicks?) Copyright crap.

And now it’s all over. For the season finale I set TIVO on KUID (keep until I delete) cause my favorite guy won the competition and the icing on the cake was that along with all the miscellaneous filler, there were live reprises of several of the most memorable dances.  They can’t/unavailable/my ass in my own home. I can replay it ’til I urp.

I expect the reason for my choice of favorite dancer goes back to when I used to dance with my ballet teacher’s three sons; man, were they a grumpy crew. He had gotten them into the studio very early on and used to show them off in a Saturday morning tumbling class to lure other (male) students.  There were never enough boys, obviously, so these three could be as irritable and uncooperative as they wanted: they would never be chased away.  We put up with it just like we put up with any inconvenience. The moods would pass and we would have partners for the pas de deux and Russians for the Trepac.

The oldest was the best dancer.  He was completely blasé around the girls, but I got my thrills being hoisted onto his shoulder or held in a chaste arabesque.  What I carry with me decades later is the grand dizziness in the proximity of those muscles:  the strength to do a triple tour en l’air or the casual grace of powerful smooth hands reaching to support my entire weight.   

This type of dance was in direct opposition to what I was seeing at high school; my drama teacher doubled as the dance director and, though I didn’t take part, I knew many of the students in his classes, including one girl from my ballet school.  She was a redhead with ideas of her own and abilities far above most of the others, so it was no surprise that he featured her in the annual show. As I recall she was doing a representational piece to the traditional song Barbara Allen, and a setting of Fancy Free.  I was backstage that year doing tech and, after observing a lot of rehearsals and performances, had a hard time not getting sucked in.  Jealous as heck. Her mistake (or maybe she didn’t care) was not keeping this activity secret from our ballet teacher; he showed up to see her dance and left in disgust.

Both teachers often gave us their views of modern vs. ballet in no uncertain terms—Mr. Gray: “even Nureyev moves his rib cage!” And Mr. Hay, spitting with fury: “vulgar! Just vulgar!”. I stole some time to do dancing outside of ballet, still feeling intensely loyal nonetheless. I love the irony that after all these years, I can see that my attraction to the young man on SYTYCD combines the two: Hip Hop dude with the elegance & rippling muscles of a long-ago ballet partner.


©2008 Claudine Jones
©2008 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Like an orthopedic soprano, Actor/Singer/Dancer Claudine Jones has worked steadily in Bay Area joints for a number of decades. With her co-conspirator Jaz Bonhooley, she also has developed unique sound designs for local venues.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives


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