There I was, in the studio where (in real life) I take bellly dance (i.e. modestly and tastefully). Except the uncharacteristic abundance of young women wearing black leotards and leggings made it clear that this was not belly dance: this was modern dance.
The instructor had us line up in rows for across-the-floors. She taught us a basic sequence and we did it all the way across. When we regathered in our messy rows at one side of the studio, the teacher informed us that we would be doing the same movement, but this time as sad as we possibly could. We were to try and embody sadness as we dance.
The girls in front of me all did sort of the same thing—huge, sweeping, dramatic gestures with distraught looks on their faces. I thought they were doing a nice job of a Romeo and Juliet kind of sadness, but I wanted to do something different. I thought about what I do when I’m sad. Usually that’s crying on my bed or organizing something.
When it came to be my turn, I took a few upright steps forward and then slid to the floor and started slothing my way across it. Hello, I’m trying to be sad here! I was essentially doing The Worm, but not so much The Worm and more like a real worm—scrunching my body up and then releasing it, propelling myself forward. My classmates looked at me in confusion.
But my friend Mary (who had evidently been in line behind me the whole time) got it. She walked up behind me, arched her body over my legs and whispered, “I’m your shell! You’re a snail, right?”