Fall 2021 In Dance




I just got home from my teaching job at a Strip Mall Dance Studio. I love teaching at the Strip Mall Dance Studio. Strip Mall Dance Studio occupies a special space in my inner landscape. Today, as I drove home from teaching, I got something not unlike a lump in my throat, but lower. Like the space behind my heart finally opened its little mouth and said, “ahhh...” or “aww…” I love the Strip Mall Dance Studio. STRIP MALL DANCE STUDIO. STRIP. MALL. DANCE. STUDIO.

My first memories of learning dance were at the Strip Mall Dance Studio near my house in Lawrence, Kansas. The strip mall was creatively named “The Malls Shopping Center.” I don’t remember what the studio itself was called but I know exactly where it was—tucked in the corner of a row of single-story beige buildings that also housed Pet World (my favorite place on earth as a 4-year-old), an Ace Hardware (my second favorite place), and a Godfather’s Pizza. The Strip Mall Dance Studio of my childhood was a tiny room within a room that had a window through which children’s grown-ups watched classes. If I go back through my

spatial dance lineage, I can vaguely remember other studios’ internal spaces—the marley, the fluorescent lighting, the smell of rubber and magic—but I struggle to place them. But my Strip Mall Dance Studio? Firmly lodged in my memory. So too the dances I did there; I remember almost all of the steps to my first and only tap number, marching in lock- step with other children to “Spoonful of Sugar.” Fast-forward through time and space to the Strip Mall Dance Stu- dio where I teach today. It too stands among single-story beige buildings, occupying a former Hallmark store between an Arrow Hardware (the

shadow of the word “Ace” visible on the storefront) and a Carbone’s Pizza. It used to be NEXT to the Hallmark building, in a space half the size of its current footprint. THAT space had a curtain dividing the studio. The battle every Thursday was to see if I could play my music louder than the other teacher, and also shout over the music, and also not have a kid chrys- alis inside the curtain while trying to teach them that they are artists and their art matters, and, fuck it, let’s just play duck duck goose, I’m tired. The people who come to this Strip Mall Dance Studio are from an upper Midwest town of roughly 20,000. When the studio moved to its larger


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In Dance | May 2014 | dancersgroup.org

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