The best of both worlds |

The best of both worlds

Color television is sweeping the country, one storefront window at a time. I’m a fledgling dancer, and decide to leave Hollywood and move to New York. No epiphany, no blinding light, just a need to jump start my career.

I find a basement apartment in Manhattan the size of a shipping crate. Parking my car in Manhattan costs more than my apartment, so I put it in storage in the Bronx.

Supermarkets are unknown in Manhattan, so rather than starve, I find a green grocer, butcher shop and bakery. That done, I immediately sign up at the June Taylor Dance Studio and start ballet classes.

A guy I’ve just taken class with tells me about Luigi, the best jazz dance teacher in town.

I bolster my courage and take a class. The studio is Sahara hot and jungle muggy. Wafer-thin girl dancers and Adonis boy dancers fill the room. They’re all stretching, gossiping and quivering with energy.

In walks Luigi, the Pied Piper of dance, only this piper is stocky, slightly balding, and one eye is askew from the other eye. He glows with camaraderie, shaking hands and giving hugs on his way to the front of the class. Everyone stakes out a limited piece of the dance floor. All eyes are on Luigi. He nods to two drummers, and class begins.

Luigi rolls his shoulders, leans to the side, twists, arches, his head drops back, and before us is a Rodin masterpiece. Power and grace meld, and his body becomes molten silver. Every molecule of his torso is infused with strength, grace, and subtlety; warm-up is over, and we’re all wringing wet, including Luigi.

Now Luigi creates a dance combination, right on the spot. Every movement flows smoothly, one into the next. Some moves are lightning fast, others cautious as a leopard about to spring. For an hour-and-a-half we follow Luigi’s lead. The class is of one mind; Luigi’s mind.

For a year-and-a-half, I take classes. I work on television, do summer stock and get to within an inch of being on Broadway. Then poof, like a balloon with the air gushing out, my spirit withers. I get my car from the Bronx and drive home to Hollywood.

I stop dancing. Why? I’m too old.

Several years of floundering follow, until I meet a lovely brunette with two young children. We marry, and powee, I’m young again. A caring wife and a loving family ignites the need in me to dance. Soon, we add a son to the family circle and daddy dances at the Dunes, in Las Vegas, and eventually is a choreographer.

It seems this dancer can’t hear the beat of the music, unless he has a caring wife and a loving family to come home too. Sounds OK to me.

Ron Walker can be reached at walkover@g—