I certainly had a slice tonight. I went to an African dance class with some friends and had my ass kicked. Usually I can pitch up at a dance class and, after a few minutes of observation, pick up the routine and hold my own with the students who have been going to the class for some time. Not tonight. Oh no, not tonight.
After the 10 minute warm-up I could already feel the sweat trickling down my back, and my hamstrings were trembling. The instructor was insane. He would do these jumps, starting from a squatting position then rocketing up into the air, and make it seem so effortless and beautiful. Then we'd try it and look like idiots, many girls losing their balance and some giving up altogether. The instructor was like a sinewy frog, full of energy and grace. We were just struggling, even the advanced students in the class.
We rehearsed some moves, which was exhausting. The whole class was done to live drumming, which at least gave me the will to keep dragging myself across the floor. I felt like an idiot for much of the class, very ungraceful. But still, it was fun, and watching the more advanced students was quite inspiring.
At the end of the class, everyone danced three dances they've been rehearsing for quite some time. Most of the students are part of a professional dance company, so they are rehearsing for an upcoming show. Us newcomers just lurked in the back and tried to pick up some choreography here and there. It wasn't easy, definitely the most challenging class I've ever attempted. Even the singing was hard to pick up, as it was all in Changana!
The class made me remember the first capoeira class I ever attended back in 1997. I was overwhelmed, felt awkward and uncoordinated, but in all was amazed by the more advanced students and what sort of beautiful movement was possible after dedication and months of practice. This class, in addition to the physical and musical components of the dance, made me excited because it seems like a great mental challenge as well as a good opportunity to meet interesting people in Maputo who love dance and who I might not otherwise come across in my regular professional and social circles.
I think I'm going to join the class. There is a 3-month package that starts in September, so my timing is good. I don't think I'll be able to make it frequently enough to really become good at the dancing, but even if I make it once a week at least it's a start.
Classes are at the electricity company's headquarters on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Cost for a month of lessons is approximately US$8. I can't believe how cheap it is...