kitchen dancing

Ferida’s Story: Kitchen Dancing

I love to dance. I’ll put on a CD and move. Classical or
Klezmer. Island drums or swing. It doesn’t matter. Music
moves me in more ways than one. The kitchen floor is my stage,
the ceramic tile providing a smooth surface for graceful
glissades and a sturdy one for the pounding I give it
choreographing my own Broadway numbers.

Over the years, I could sometimes coax my husband onto this
impromptu dance floor for a slow dance but we have learned
from experience, beginning with our wedding, that we don’t
dance well together. We seem to have an abundance of left feet
when we dance which usually end up on one or the other’s toes.

All that is changing. I signed us up for dance classes.
He only agrees to go because our son is getting married soon
and we will have to dance, at least once, in front of almost
two hundred of our closest friends and relatives.

I don’t care what reason gets him there. We are dancing.

My husband complains that it is impossible to count the beats,
do the variations and feel the music at the same time.

“That’s multi-tasking,” I tell him.

Women are used to it. Folding the laundry and helping with
homework. Cooking dinner and talking on the phone. It comes

“I’m a focused kind of guy,” he says. “I do one thing at
a time.”

“Good,” I say. “Do one thing. Dance.”

We learn the steps in class but we practice at home. In the
kitchen. The room really isn’t big enough for an elegant
foxtrot and it does put a crimp in an enthusiastic swing
but it will do.

It was difficult at first. Between my jittery energy and his
resistance, our individual needs frequently clashed. I would
resort to leading when he wasn’t forceful enough which irritated
both of us. But we understand now that we each have our parts.
He leads. I do the flourishes. With practice we are learning
to sense each other’s strengths and respond to each other’s
timing. Our posture is getting more confident. We have
stopped staring at our feet, willing them to go where they
are supposed to instead of where they might end up.

I am grateful for the impetus to learn together. The wedding
is the excuse but the reason is that something inside me at
this time in my life says I must move. I tell myself that
because I sit writing at my computer for so much of the day,
my body needs a release. It sounds logical though I know my
need has nothing to do with logic. It is an inner pulsing
that calls for movement.

I think this passion for dance is partly rooted in childhood.
A desire long delayed. When I was a teen, I wanted to take
ballet lessons. My mother wouldn’t let me. She said I was
too skinny, too frail, to dance. So as my friends took the
bus to their class, I practiced the lindy in my basement with
a friend from down the street. We danced to our forty-fives
and then rewarded ourselves by polishing off a Sara Lee
chocolate swirl poundcake.

But the teenage years are long over. What I see now is a
population growing older and becoming more sedentary.
In an assisted living facility where my parents lived,
I saw how many ways people could stop moving. Sometimes
inaction was physically based: a stroke depriving muscles
of movement, a damaged heart causing every exertion to be
painful, brittle bones making any action dangerous. Yet
lack of movement was often caused by lack of interest or
fear of trying something new. Rigidity of thought
expressing itself in rigidity of body. I found myself
starved for movement after a visit.

My husband puts on a Benny Goodman CD. Who better to swing
to? We work our way across the tile. We laugh our way
through our mistakes. We make up combinations that we are
too shy to do in front of our instructors. At least until
we perfect the timing.

I love the grin on my husband’s face when we finish a
pattern and come out on the right step. Even better,
the panic has begun to ease when we come together. I can
see where it might actually be pleasurable one day to be
a dancing couple instead of a couple of dancing bears.

And dancing has drawn us closer, even after thirty-seven
years of marriage. There is a lot more hugging, more
delight. Maybe it’s just our endorphins running wild.
Dancing is, after all, an aerobic exercise that releases
those wonderful chemicals of euphoria. But I see it in
a different way. I think of it as freedom. Freedom
from the seriousness of daily existence. Freedom for
the exuberance of life. A guiltless pleasure that
reminds me of the joy there is to be had in simple
things. Simple things like dancing in the kitchen.


Stepping Stones: Dancing as a Metaphor

We are entranced by Ferida’s story and we hope it touches you
as well. There is something about dancing in the kitchen
that is both warm and personal. The notion of dancing
triggers memories, images and feelings. It reminds us that
we can be fluid and try something new. Now get comfortable,
re-read Ferida’s story, and enjoy it again as you read
between the lines.

Integrate the parts of the story that to apply to you.
Use the questions below as you tailor it to your own needs
and deepen your experience. Your answers to these questions
will get you on your toes. Begin to bring more joy into
your life and, as Arthur Murray said, “try dancing.”

***First put the spotlight on yourself:

What moves you?
What is your stage?
What are some childhood desires not fulfilled?
What is holding you back?
What frees you?
How can you begin?

***Now spotlight your relationship:

In what ways do you “dance” together?
How do you lead differently?
What do you do to coax each other?
Who is more apt to be led into compromise?
What is the impetus to learn together?
What makes you feel closer?
What brings you simple joys?
What makes you more affectionate?
How do you laugh at your mistakes?
How does that impact the relationship?

***Now look at the dance you have created:

What situations invite change?
Who takes the initiative?
What is the first step in making the shift?
What does it take to keep practicing?
How does moving in synchronicity affect your



Ferida Wolff’s website,, may be of interest
to you. There are sections for women, teachers and editors
in which she offers excerpts of her books and information
about her workshops.

She has written books for Boomer women – some for themselves
and others to read to their grandchildren:

“The Adventures of Swamp Woman: Menopause Essays on the Edge” is
available through, bookstores, and

“Listening Outside Listening Inside” is a book of stories about
listening to our inner messages. It is available through the
author at

“It is the Wind” (Random House, 2005) is a picture book about
a child who hears a sound in the night and tries to identify
it, later discovering that it is only the wind.

“Is a Worry Worrying You?” (Tanglewood, Press 2005) is a
picture book of outlandish worries but with practical
suggestions on how to deal with a worry.


Our Invitation to You

Do you have your own transition story? We invite you to
share it with our readers for the benefit of women who
themselves may be dealing with similar changes. The skills you
used may be Stepping Stones for others. If you are interested,
please e-mail us at

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