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Monday, March 28, 2011

Finding Billie Lu and Back to Belly Dance

At Billie Lu's in Odessa
Finding Billie Lu
Above is an old old recital photo of me. 

In a previous post I mentioned that I started taking ballet when I was about 5 years old, at Billie Lu’s School of Dance in Odessa.  Recently I found out that Billie Lu is alive and well.  In fact, I tracked her down and talked to her on the phone the other day!  She is almost 80 years old now, but her voice sounds the same as when I last heard it, almost 50 years ago.  Now she lives in Memphis, closer to her children and grandchildren.  We talked about what has transpired in our lives in the last 50 years.  We talked about the best students she had back then, and where they are now.  A couple of them went on to be professional dancers with ballet companies.  One of them is traveling around South America in a yacht with her husband. 

But the most startling thing I learned was that Billie Lu and my father dated, albeit briefly, way back when I was her student.  She was still single, and Daddy was a young widower.  He was serious about her, but she was more interested in the man who eventually became her husband. 

“You broke Daddy’s heart,” I told her.  She laughed it off and joked that I narrowly escaped having her for a stepmother.  Wow.  That blew my mind.  At the time I would have been so excited at the prospect of having Billie Lu as part of our family.  Now I realize how difficult it would have been for her to suddenly have three stepchildren on her hands.  Anyway, she married someone else and had children of her own, and Daddy remained a widower.  He didn’t remarry until I was about to graduate from high school, ten years after my mother died of cancer.  It makes you wonder:  How different would my life be if this or that hadn't happened, or if something else had?    

Back to belly dance

I’ve been neglecting my chosen area of concentration:  belly dance.  I’ve already made the disclaimer that I’m not an expert on any aspect of it.  This is just a diary of my own experiences, as an over-50 student of this dance.  Most of the time, the over-50 part doesn’t make much difference.  Except that I don’t have as much stamina as younger classmates.  I sweat a lot, but I’ve always been that way.  I guess my body lacks an efficient cooling system--by the end of class I’m so sweaty my hair is wet.  It was that way back when I country danced, too.  I would go to the ladies room and hold my head under the hand blower to dry my hair.
But one thing that definitely has to do with age is how sore I get.  After class I am stiff and sore, especially after 45 minutes of driving home.  I practically fall out of the Suburban and hobble to the house, sometimes hanging onto the car for support.  I’m sure it’s a pathetic sight.  The stiffness goes away after a few minutes of moving around, but the soreness usually lasts until the next day.  The muscles just don’t bounce back like they used to.  Thank goodness for Celebrex. 

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