Sunday, 9 December 2018

Granddad's Special School of Dance


Inspired by Behind the Nebulas Fog - By Graeme Piper - This story was written whilst listening to Behind the Nebulas Fog as written and performed by Graeme Piper. Depending on the speed you read this story can be read in the time it takes that tune to play.
If you would like to listen to the tune as you read it can be downloaded from the link below

I sit in the room as the lights go down and the parents, grandparents and siblings of my dancers fall silent in anticipation.

The music starts and before the curtain has time to rise I am cast back to the first time I ever heard this tune.

I was eight and it was about the time when dance schools start selecting the children who can dance for their Christmas shows rather than kids who just love to dance. Jessica Paige had been given the lead and I had been set aside to possibly join in the group number but only if Andrew Burton couldn't make it. I had kept up my best brave face but as soon as I got into the car I had burst into tears.

Why wasn't I allowed to dance. I loved to dance. It made me feel free. It made me feel beautiful.

'What did the teacher say sweetheart?' my granddad asked as I wept on the drive home.

'She said dancers have to flow and be delicate. She said I was a little on the large side to be a true dancer.' I whispered through my tears.

'Well that's just silly,' he said. 'Anyone can dance. Me and your grandma still dance and we aren't graceful.'

A week later when he came to collect me for dance class I had refused to get ready. I didn't want to go.

'That's okay sweetie but I need you to help me,' he said as he pulled me up onto his knee.

'Help you?'

'Yes. I am making a new dance for your grandma and she mustn't know. But I need a partner so will you help me?'

'But I'm not allowed to dance,' I cried jumping down off his knee and rushing to my room.

A few minutes later there was a knock on my door.

'Can I come in?' Granddad said.

I kept me head buried in the pillow but I heard the door slowly open and then the end of my bed dip as he sat down.

'I think your dance teacher is a ninny but if I promise not to tell her  you are dancing will you help me?'

'She said I was no good.'

'This is different from the dancing she does. She doesn't know about this kind of dancing.' He smiled and I wiped my eyes, sitting up on the end of the bed next to him.

'But where will we go?'

'I have cleared a space in the front room and the piano is in there already.'

'Piano? We have tapes in dance class.'

'Not this time. That is why I need your help.'

'Okay,' I nodded.

He held my hand as we walked together done the stairs and into the front room. All the furniture had been removed except for the piano.

'First we need to warm up.'

'Warm up?'

'Don't you do that in dance classes?'


'That dance teacher knows nothing. Right stand facing me and raise you arms in the air.'

I did as he said.

'Now shake them out.'

I looked at him as if he was an idiot.

'Come on follow me and shake those arms.'

For the next ten minutes I copied him exactly as he shook his arms and his legs and his head and his hands and his feet and finally his bottom. By the time we had finished I couldn't stop giggling.

'Right now for the dance.' He sat at the piano.

'What are the steps?'

'I don't know.'

'But you have to tell me what to do. Teacher always shows us what to do and we follow.'

'I told you that teacher was a ninny. What we do at Granddad's Special School of Dance is let the music show us what to do.'

'Don't be silly the music can't show us what to do,' I giggled. 'You're the ninny.'

'Just you see. Stand in the middle of the room and close your eyes.'

I did as he said.

'Now listen to the music and move when you want to however you want to.'

I stood staring at him. This was silly.

'Ready? Eyes closed.'

He stood looking at me with his fingers poised over the keys waiting for me to close my eyes.

When I finally did he started to play. After a few seconds I felt the music wash over me and I started to move. The first time it wasn't much more than a sway but we practiced each week and by the time of the Christmas show I had my own dance that I performed in the front room to a standing ovation from the whole family.

I open my eyes and the first bars of that very same tune start to play for the first Christmas show of 'Granddad's Special School of Dance' .

Ten kids come running out on to the stage and moving to the music. They are all dressed in the costumes they chose so none of them match. Some kids are on the floor, some are running around with scarves floating out behind them and one small boy is standing alone on the edge of the stage. Just as I start to get up to go to him two of the other children walk over and take him by the hand. Cathy and Bill both has Downs and they were my first kids. Tommy only joined this summer and is partially sighted so fears the stage and the edge he can't see. Cathy takes Tommy's hand and slowly guides him out to the middle of the stage while Bill runs round herding all the children into the centre. As the music reaches its crescendo the boys gather round Tommy and with one massive effort lift him above their shoulders while the girls open their arms and point towards him.

Tommy looks so nervous I am terrified he will fall. They never did this in the dance classes that we laughingly called rehearsals.

As the music reaches it ending Tommy holds out his arms and smiles the biggest smile I have ever seen on his face.

The audience launches to its feet almost as one. Applause, whistling and cheering ring out around the hall.
The children stand at the front of the stage with Tommy in the middle and take their bow.
As parents rush to congratulate me I am in tears. I look to the heavens. 'Thank you Granddad.'

If you enjoyed this story please don't forget to download the tune that inspired it
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