Prancing in a cane and a top hat

by Ashish

I hate dancing. I absolutely, compulsively, totally and wholly hate dancing.

Have you ever tried to serve and volley? Forget serve and volley – have you ever tried to serve? There are six hundred and forty muscles in the human body, and each of them needs to be used in a way Olympic gymnasts would consider physically impossible in order to get the ball to land in that infuriatingly small rectangle on the other side of that irritatingly large net.

The most legendary of tennis players have screwed up every now and then while serving. In fact, avid tennis fans will recall how Novak Djokovic meekly gave up on his crusade against the Grand Caliph of Clay at this year’s Roland Garros by screwing up on his serve.

Twice.

To cut a long story short, getting your serve right in tennis is a very difficult proposition. To say nothing of the rest of the sport. Sure, Federer makes it look as easy as scratching your tummy while drinking your beer, but that’s because he’s a freak of nature.

But even he, the Nijinsky of the tennis courts – even he can’t pull off nonchalance. Watch him when he’s about to serve, or is about to execute a simple forehand – arguably his best shot. His face is a study in concentration. His eyes firmly on the ball, his mouth a thin line of complete concentration, his brow a little furrowed; nothing in the world could disturb his focus. It’s like a modern day version of Arjuna and that only-the-eye-of-the-bird classic.

Every sportsperson needs that kind of a focus, of course. A fast bowler at the point of release, a swimmer about to start a race, a basketball player about to go for a slam dunk – each and every sport needs every last ounce of concentration one can muster.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the undersigned hates dancing. Loathes dancing. Considers it an abomination that should have been banned as soon as it was invented.

Because (and here’s the thing) dancing is, in my humble opinion, every bit as complicated as any sport in the world. You need control over your limbs – all four of them – along with your neck, your eyes, your elbows, knees, fingers, toes – everything. Just as you would if were serving at match-point.

And that’s if you are dancing solo. If you are with a partner, things will get infinitely worse. It will be a person of the opposite gender. She will be a person you want to impress (why else are you putting yourself through this, you pitiful shmuck?) and she will be better than you at whatever dance you are doing by a factor twice the size of the known universe. In that case, not only do you have to control all of your bodily appendages, but you have to keep an eye on all of hers as well. And not in a whoa-she’s-hot kind of way, but in a whoa-how-the-frack-did-she-just-do-that kind of way.

So what I’ve been trying to get at is the fact that dancing and any sport require the same level of concentration. That’s not a new argument, of course. It’s a hoary old chestnut.

But here’s why I think the argument equating the two is null and void. It’s null and void because dancing is a dishonest endeavor.

I ask you this: does Sachin Tendulkar try to look suave and charming when he essays a text book cover drive? Does LeBron James have a twinkle in his eye when he sinks a crucial two-pointer? Does Michael Schumacher grin like an idiot when performing a particularly difficult overtaking maneuver? Granted, he could be, under that helmet, but I think it’s a safe bet to say that he’s not. They’re all caught up in the moment, those glorious sportsmen, focusing on what they need to get done in order to win. They all have the same expression that I referred to earlier when talking about Messrs Federer and Arjuna.

But a dancer? Not only must he performs moves as and maybe more complicated than a sportsman, but he must also look happy and pleased while doing it. He must look with smoldering eyes at his partner, for example, or say “Aaooouuu!” and touch his jewels if he is imitating Michael Jackson. While the other hand points to the sky, Statue of Liberty style.

But he can’t be seen to be concentrating, because he is supposed to show that it’s all effortless. He needs to be seen to be in control, in command, and above all, he needs to be seen to be enjoying himself.

Can’t be done, sorry.

In my case, you can get one of the two but not both. Never both.

I suppose if I practiced long enough, I could pull off two dance moves consecutively. But there is no way I could look happy doing it. My visage on the dance floor will always reflect complete concentration, and probably a tinge of abject unhappiness.

And oh, one more thing.

Have you seen little children when they’ve finally gotten around to figuring out how to write? Their chubby little hands, gripped tightly around the pencil, head tilted to one side? Try it out yourself – close your eyes and try and imagine what you looked like when you first were able to write the letter A.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why my tongue always juts out a little on those rare occasions when I am forced to dance.

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