The Greatest Wedding Ever… Part II – The Dance

I am not a dancer.

I don’t dance. I’ve never been a good dancer. I am a typical awkward white guy dancer. It ain’t pretty. Sometimes I dance around my office to rock music, but no one’s watching and it’s mostly air guitar oriented. In my head I think it’s great. In reality, it’s not.

Our new son-in-law Dhruva is a dancer. A great dancer. As is our daughter Katie. She’s a great dancer too. And Dhruva’s family likes surprises. They are forever surprising each other. So when Katie and Dhruva announced their engagement Michelle and I started to discuss a surprise for their wedding.

We threw around a bunch of ideas but kept coming back to a dance. Even though I’m not a dancer. Michelle does Zumba every Thursday morning and is a great dancer, but I decided if I wanted to welcome Dhruva into the family in just the right way, I was going to have to suck it up and learn to Bhangra. This is an Indian (South Asian) type of dance you see in Bollywood movies.

The problem was that the only Bhangra choreographer we know (Dhruva) was the person we wanted to surprise! So we couldn’t ask him for help. So we started searching for tutorials on line. We found our new best friend Cindy Mathew, the “Good Indian Girl” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVhfaPpxDkw and she got us started. So I watched her video about 150 times and I still have trouble with most of the moves. We found some others including this one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7wjsxew0dU&list=TLui0gyy5WtmU) and Michelle liked the music and started stringing together moves that I could actually do.

We started last November with the hope of having the dance ready for Katie and Dhruva’s wedding in India in February. We were going to videotape it and send it with them to be played at their Sangeet. Yea, that didn’t happen. We weren’t even close to being ready by then.

Eventually we figured out some moves. We bought the music on iTunes and Michelle listed all the moves in order and printed them out large enough to put on charts. Every couple of days we’d fire up the music and go through the routine several times. Michelle was great. I followed her. I tried my best, but I have come to accept that I do some things well, and dancing is not one of them.

A couple of days before the Canadian wedding I sent Dhruva the music and told him we needed 3 minutes at the reception for a “presentation.” We wouldn’t tell him what it was exactly since we wanted to surprise him… we said it might be a rap, or a song, or a reading… to try and throw him off. As he and Katie had been planning the Canadian wedding reception they kept asking me to be part of various family dances that they were preparing but I kept resisting and telling them, “I do NOT dance.” It was kind of fun, throwing them off like that.

We had asked Dhruva to schedule our “performance” near the beginning of the evening, but somehow our allotted time got pushed back. It was frustrating because it was one of those things I really just wanted to get over with… like a dental extraction. In hindsight it was a good thing that we performed later in the evening since more alcohol had been consumed by then which made our audience way more enthusiastic.

I prefaced the dance by saying… “Ever have something you have to do… like give a speech … that you’ve dreaded all day? Well, I just reached that point in my evening…” I also explained that I was a farmer, not a dancer, but that Michelle and I had put together a performance to surprise Dhruva and to welcome him into our family.

When the music begins there is about 30 seconds of just instrumental before the vocals start. We decided to fill this time by acting really awkward, like the dance was going to be a real train wreck, and then if we were able to actually put together any coherent routine, it would be a relief to our audience. So as Michelle stood there, pretending to be trying to coax me into doing the dance as we had practiced, I pretended to “act up” and did as many of the “classic” dance moves that I could think of, like Gangnam style and from the movie Pulp Fiction and Michael Jackson’s Thriller moves.  Of course I did it too fast and it was very awkward, especially for me. When the vocals finally started and we actually began our choreographed Bhangra moves, our audience was noticeably relieved and began to clap for us.

I know I screwed up a lot of stuff, which surprised me considering how much we’d practiced. Michelle remembered it all, of course. As I was dancing I tried to remember to smile, but I’m sure I had a look of terror on my face the whole time. I was trying so hard to remember the next moves. Ever notice how the dance groups in movies are always made up of young people? It’s because 53-year-old brains don’t remember dance moves as well!

So when it was finally done, which I indicated by collapsing on the floor, we got a standing ovation! Yee ha! We must have been good! Then all night everyone was so nice and kept telling me what a great dancer I was. And I was actually starting to believe it. Then my sister sent me a short video clip of the dance and I realized that everyone was being incredibly nice, because in reality it was awful. But I think what people appreciated was that we stepped outside of our comfort zone and were prepared to make fools of ourselves. What they were actually saying was, “You’re such a great sport” and not “You’re such a great dancer.” I’m sure our Indian clothing and the Indian music helped to create the illusion of a good dance.

Anyway here’s a short clip provided by the flutist Sahil (whom we mentioned in the previous blog post here.)  Luckily the professional (and up close) video won’t be ready for a while. This one shot from a distance doesn’t show just how bad a dancer I am. Just concentrate on the music, and the clothing, and the whistling and Michelle. DO NOT WATCH ME! (Click where it says “weddingdance” below to see the clip. It will take you to a new page where you will click on “weddingdance” once again)

The other way I warned our audience before our performance was to quote a poster I had seen that said, “Dance like there no one’s watching,” and so I said, “That’s the way I am going to dance but you are stuck having to watch, and it’s not going to be pretty!”

weddingdance

6 Responses to “The Greatest Wedding Ever… Part II – The Dance”

  • Ken and Madeline Snider:

    We weren’t able to get the dance pictures. Did I do something rong (quite ossible) so if you have time and a way to send it again We really want to see that dance!!Good for you!!

  • I think the best part was how you’re dressed so matchy matchy! Soooo cute.

  • Janet Schaefer:

    Cam, The dance was a perfect highlight to the evening, and a great “welcome to the family” for Dhruva. Thank you for a fantastic evening!!

  • Way to go!!! Can’t wait to see the up close version! For some reason the video is upside down on my movie player – weird…

  • Jean:

    I beg to differ with your self critique, Cam. You were great, yes a great sport, but I thinnk the dance came off beautifully and the standing ovation was heartfelt for both you and Michelle. You may have known your mistakes, but those watching you did not, so it all looked great! Kudos to you and Michelle for creating a dance AND performing it so very well.

  • Tricia:

    My 5 year old daughter says, “I think he’s a good dancer” after showing her the video…so apparently you’re WRONG! Thanks for making me laugh this morning!! :}

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Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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