Girl who can’t dance, learns how to dance in France…sort of.

I’m a mutt of Irish, Norwegian, English and German blood. But let’s be real, I’m American. I don’t have a culture where dancing is an intricate part of life. Middle school dances were a nightmare of a social experiment. Sometimes though, you have to fake it, to make it.

Honestly, I did not want to go the Nederlands Dans Theater performance last night. Sure it was at the Campo Santo, which is in the courtyard of a 14th century chapel, but I’ve never had a particular connection to or love of dance. Why would I want to go? My boyfriend convinced me on our afternoon Skype session to be open-minded and get out of Citea, our hotel, for the night.

As the second half of the opening night performance of the Les Estivales festival progressed, the tone of the dance changed. The dancers stalked up into the stands and I somehow knew I was in trouble.

As one dancer approached, my middle school dance anxiety kicked in. I prayed he could secretly read my mind and would know that I was sending an ESP message of, “You have no idea, if you ask me to dance I will literally lose it.”

Apparently the Nederlands Dans Theater doesn’t school their dancers in the art of mind reading so I was out of luck. This gorgeous man, drenched in hours-old sweat, looked beyond my hesitation as if it didn’t exist and extended his well-toned arm toward my open hand. Staring into his black eyes, I knew I would be ok.

Skipping down the stairs in my bare feet as the squeals and screams from my friends faded behind me, I desperately tried to transport myself back into a time when I did know how to dance. Well, sort of.

I tried my hardest to remember what dance I would do in the middle of the mosh pit on those sweaty, late nights at random punk shows in Providence, RI. Yes, I know. Punk moshing? Not so cute, but it would get the job done.

As my dancer shifted and extended my legs to pose me in contorted positions, I blessed Florence Delseny Sobra, director of the ALFMED language school where we are studying, for getting us into the V.I.P reception because, honestly, without those few glasses of wine I had indulged in, I would have frozen in the moment.

Trying to maneuver through the last of the dance, which seemed to be some kind of waltz, I was donzo. I looked around in a quick panic and found my classmate Gillette, who had also been plucked from the audience. She looked as if she knew how to dance, or at least had been to enough weddings to know how to fox trot or waltz or whatever was happening to me. She was my new role model. I tripped through the final dance, and as my partner said, “Thank you for dancing with me,” I suddenly didn’t want to leave.

Sprinting back to the screams of my friends in the bleachers, I smirked to myself, knowing that I had fooled 500 people into thinking that I could dance.