no prior dance experience+china=Hujintastic time
I’d like to think I’m a pretty well-rounded person. I am decent at a lot of things…dancing absolutely not being one of them. In fact out of all the skills I possess I would say that dancing is last on my list of things I would want to do in front of the president of China, or in front of anyone at all for that matter. Ok maybe second to last next to making a speech in Chinese, which I may end up having to do. How did this happen…going from never having taken a legit dance class to having to perform a routine on national Chinese television in front of Hu Jin Tao? Well unusual circumstances played a role such as me being a senior from America enrolled in a school in China. That in itself is peculiar but the school I am attending happens to be one of the best in China, and also happens to be celebrating its 50th anniversary of its exchange program with America, the longest one in history, with Newton North (and South I guess). The combination of its high standings and old exchange program mean that some big cheeses will be attending the celebration…such as the president of China and the principle of Newton North High School. The recording of the ceremony on national television is an added bonus. And of course all of these factors combine together to create the worst atmosphere ever for me to make my dancing debut. But dance I shall, rehearsals for the ceremony have been going on for a while and we started attending last week. The ceremony is in two months. We practice four times a week for at least two hours. I certainly did not expect this but it’s a very interesting twist on my experience here. Each rehearsal has a dreadful but hilarious when looked back on warm up. This lasts about 45 minutes and consists of death. Our first warm up was in the dance studio where everyone seemed to be quite experienced dancers. We lined up and had to do these ballet poses with our feet and jump in the air. It kind of screwed up my ankles and knees as they wanted us to go completely into the pose without any prior experience. We then had to try to touch the floor with our hands while keeping our legs straight. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t come close to doing this (my legs are unproportionally long ok!). Then a lady would come along and push us down further than our limits. I watched in horror as she did this to the kids in front of me and listened to their cries of agony. Then I experienced the fun for myself. I don’t think I am any more flexible now. We had a weird warm up yesterday which I can’t really describe but can demonstrate in the future. As for the routine…it started off hilarious. I thought we would play a small role as Americans, but the choreographer, who I later found out was the best choreographer in the nation, had other plans. We started of as planes running around with our arms out as wings and weaving through other planes who were Chinese students meant to represent the Chinese students coming to America. Then we did a ridiculous dance with a Chinese partner. My partner happens to be a five year old girl about two inches tall. Ok I exaggerate but I bet she’s like ten and like five feet tall. She’s a better dancer than me, goes without saying, and she has a much better memory for the moves we have to do. At one point I spin into her arms. Why they chose me the much larger Americans to spin into the tiny Chinese kids arms, I will never know. There is also phony hugging, laughing, smiling, picture taking, frolicking, and much more. I am a little resentful of having to be in something so overdramatic and tacky. It is really like any creepily happy Chinese production. The whole thing is just very bizarre and worthy of a big laugh. Despite all the disadvantages and unasked for and unagreed upon work involved, it’s a truly unique opportunity.
On a completely different note I would like to say that my English is getting worse and worse. My Chinese comprehension may be improving slightly, but not at the pace in which my native language is being lost.
Finally, I’ll mention how last Wednesday our group started classes just for Americans. We had Wushu (martial arts), which is a lot like dancing in that I am terrible at it. We also had knot making class which I am also terrible at. The thing about crafts like that though is that a lot of the skill involved is learned through experience and not from natural ability. We also had Chinese class which is pretty boring, English, and geography, which I can safely say is one of the most boring classes I have ever had. We had calligraphy today which I am just awful at but I knew that already. Our group discovered that the for treasures of calligraphy are mao bi (brush) mo(ink) zhe(paper) and ya zi(sock) ....sock isnt one of them I am JK. I will have fine arts tomorrow woooot. We got our bikes today. Mine is cool and it happens to look like half of the other bikes. I am leaving at the school today and may never use it but it was free to I took it. I am writing this at a sad time because I ate all of my ritz crackers today and my oreos and was relying on Emily to buy me more today but have just received word that she has failed to do so! Now I must rely on my copious stocks of chocolates, cake like pastries, donuts, skittles, cereal, bread and cheese, and assorted beverages. It won't be the same but maybe I can get by for a day or two.