High Life: A WEEKLY FORUM FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS : Stricken by Dance Fever--Her Skinny Legs and All

Terri Timmons is a sophomore at Sunny Hills High School, where she is a reporter for the school newspaper, The Accolade, and plays on the junior varsity softball team

For all those Sunny Hills High School students who are still laughing hysterically, the time has come for you to catch your breath and return to an upright position. I know it’s hard to believe, but, yes, I am enrolled in Dance 1 this year.

I know that in most people’s minds the image of a dancer is a limber, graceful, hair-up-in-a-bun ballerina. That’s probably the reason I took dance, to try to become that limber, graceful, hair-up-in-a-bun kind of person.

But that doesn’t happen in a month.

First of all, I have a complaint about the dance clothes. Is it really necessary to have a spandex, butt-hugger pair of leotards and leggings?


I know from years of people telling me my legs are too thin that anything too tight on me makes me look like a toothpick. Even a slightly tight pair of jeans brings on this effect.

So there is no way I am going to wear body-hugging clothes, no matter what the requirements. I finally settled for a pair of plain biking pants and a mint green “Rude Dog” T-shirt. Hey, the motto seemed right, so why not go with it?

After getting all decked out in my “dance duds,” I made the seemingly mile-long walk from the locker room to the dance room. This is sixth period, and half the school’s football players are standing around the dance room, checking it out.

Once inside, I am surrounded by mirrors, which can be cruel. By this time of the day, my hair is frizzed, my eye liner is two inches below my eyes and any lipstick I still have on has lost all contact with my lips.

So I sit there in the back of the room. Everywhere I look, there is my image staring back, seeming to say, “You know the only reason you’re in here is because there was no way you were going to suffer through another year of PE.”

OK, so I know I’m not that flexible. I know I can’t even get close to doing the splits or even touch my toes for that matter. But some of my classmates won’t let me forget it. I watched some of them touch the backs of their necks with their toes, then touch the floor with their palms while keeping their legs straight. I’m lucky if I can touch my knees, and even then I’m proud of that accomplishment.


Moving across the dance floor is another tormenting experience. Every time I try the latest move, I come excruciatingly close to tripping and tasting floor wax.

But I have gotten a lot better, at least at pretending I know what I’m doing. Why, I’ll bet half my classmates didn’t even know how painfully close I have come to landing in an unsightly pile after turning the wrong way and somehow tying my legs into a slip knot.

All in all, however, I’ve learned a lot in dance class. I’ve learned that I can laugh at myself no matter how much pain I happen to be in at the time.

Another lesson I’ve learned is to never, never compare myself to anyone else wearing spandex. I tried that the very first day of class and wound up feeling very small, in more ways than one.

Dance has taught me a lot about myself, as well as given me more than a few lessons in humility. I do expect there will be more embarrassing moments in the next few weeks, though. That’s when we get started on leaps.