Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels. (Bob Thaves)
Being back at the Burd Center working with those wonderful Gainesville Theatre Alliance kids brings back great memories, including one of the major milestones in my life.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007 was a big one.
Preparation for this event involved a trip to the mall. My old friend Beccah went with me on her lunch break and helped me make a major decision: Which strappy black shoes would work best with my concert black? Most of my shoes were of the chunky librarian sort, which is fine for the pit in a high school show, but I was dressing for a much snazzier show where I would be sitting behind a concert grand piano in full view of the audience.
The mission was accomplished. (The secondary mission, finding an Easter dress, was not as successful. I think that Beccah and I were just kind of done by then. Everything was either too expensive, too black or too “Daisy Buchanan.”)
That said, I didn’t realize that the purchase of strappy shoes would require another adventure: Learning to walk in strappy shoes.
I was not a complete heel novice. I have several pairs of shoes with heels that are more than a couple of inches. One of my favorite pairs are wooden sandals made of solid wood, four inches tall. But they’re clunky–the sole at the toe is about 2 inches thick, and the heel is wide. (I love those shoes.) I have a couple of pairs of clogs that have 3 to 4 inch heels, but they have wedge heels, too. I have one pair of boots that has a narrower heel, but there’s something more stable about being zipped up to the knee, I reckon.
I put on my strappy sandals at home (on my slick wood floors) and wondered how I would make it out the door. As an afterthought, I brought a backup pair of shoes to my show.
Here’s the glory of teaching: Often, if you can teach a kid something, they will want to teach you something, too. So I walked into the dressing room in my backup shoes and showed the girls my new strappy shoes. They all oohed and ahhed sweetly, and I laughed and said, “Now which one of you is going to explain to me how to walk in these crazy things?”
Allie (my lyrical soprano!) jumps up from her curling iron and backs up to the other side of the room: “There’s a trick to it, Miss Leanne! You cross your feet! See? And then you walk heel to ball, like this. And if you want to get really sexy, you do this and this and this…” Casey jumped in to help out, too.
The crazy part was that I put on the shoes, did what she told me, and realized that she was an absolute genius. You really do just cross your feet when you walk. (Thank you, Allie and Casey! I still think of you every time someone says to me, “How the heck do you walk in those things?”)
I’m still convinced that women’s shoes are designed by men who hate women, but heels are one of the things I really enjoy. Think about it: If BMI (body mass index) is based on weight relative to height, my BMI goes down 3% every time I put on 4-inch heels.
What’s my point here? I don’t have one. I’m just telling a story about the pure joy of dressing up and learning from my students. And since that day, I make it a point (no pun intended) to wear heels to my shows.
By the way, six years later those all-new GTA kids are still wonderful. If any of them are reading this mess, thank you for making me feel welcomed and even pretty tonight.
(group photo credit: Emily Sapp. This was not from the show I mentioned, but it was close enough. Bonus points to Tiffany for holding that Goldfish bag so that it makes me look skinny, and to Marissa for just looking awesome. Also, if you look closely you will see an orb on my skirt. If you are at all familiar with Brenau, you know what an orb in a picture means.)