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So I Thought I Could Dance

| Sunday, January 26, 2014

so_i_thought_i_could_dance_header_WEBDaniel Barabasi | The Observer

Snow boots are not dancing shoes. My Uggs were not going to stop me, though, from entering Legends’ “So You Think You Can Dance” competition last Friday night. The odds were in my favor; I had obviously prepared the most, since I decided to enter the competition two minutes before the cutoff. I could also disco, which was way more impressive than breakdancing.

I pretended to stretch while I sized up my competition: muscular men from Project Fresh and a blonde girl in sequin leggings. Their headstands were intimidating, but I closed my eyes and told myself that I had nothing to worry about. I was a Macarena master.

The first tribute entered the ring, and the battle began. The kid spun fire. Okay, maybe they were electronic lights, but the Katniss Everdeen in me saw blazing torches instead of glow sticks swung by shoelaces.

Next, the blonde girl aerialed into the center. Darn those sequined leggings that sparkled in the spotlight. She proceeded to do a handstand and twerk upside-down. The judges leaned forward in their seats. The audience of three started wondering where the rest of the crowd went.

The next four dancers were all professionally trained break-dancers.

I told myself that, at least, while they effortlessly performed kick-ups, springing from a collapsed back-bend position to standing up straight. One of them spun around in a one handed push-up, and another showed off his arm muscles in a slow-motion worm. I put on my game face and tried to forget that they actually started dancing one to two years ago, when YouTube videos inspired them to join Project Fresh.

It was my turn. The ring was empty, and so was my mind. I forgot my routine. I forgot that I did not prepare a routine. Then my years of awkward school dances paid off. I Raised the Roof. I Mashed the Potato. I inspired feminists by becoming a Running Man, and then disappointed them by retreating to the Shopping Cart. Who says you have to be an astronaut to Moonwalk? I traveled to the past with the Charleston and to the future with the Robot. I got hot with the Hustle and cooled off with the Sprinkler. I worked up quite an appetite, so I found a Cabbage Patch and picked it.

Needless to say, my performance was the most technically challenging and emotionally rousing one of the night. Everyone knows that the Hokey-Pokey is more challenging than splits and salsa dancing. Imagine my surprise then when the judges cut me before the second round.

I tried to hold back tears, but they dribbled out like soccer balls. Suddenly, though, it all became clear. I was not kicked out of the competition because I was not the most skilled dancer to walk the planet, but because I forgot to cite my sources. As a Notre Dame student, I should always acknowledge when I am adapting someone else’s creation. The tears commenced again, this time because I was ashamed for forgetting to specify that I had not choreographed the Y.M.C.A.

I trudged back to my dorm and the tears froze on my face. I pitied my talent, plagued by plagiarism. To comfort me, snow oozed through my boots and cuddled with my toes.

Snow boots are not dancing shoes.

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About Erin Thomassen

I am a freshman double majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and French. PLS (aka the Notre Dame Book Club) is the history of ideas through literature, philosophy, math and science. It was the perfect major for me, because I couldn't possibly choose one subject and hurt the other subjects' feelings. French was also a natural pick, since I have been prancing around my house under the pretense of performing ballet for eighteen years. If someone asks me what I do in my free time, I will tell them that I run and read. What I actually do is eat cartons of strawberries and knit lumpy scarves. If you give me fresh fruit, we will be friends. If we become friends, I will knit you a scarf for Christmas. It may be lumpy, but it will be in your favorite color. And if enough people become my friend, lumpy scarves might just become a trend.

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