Well Paul's did not just take anyone, so I had to audition for him. At the time I do not remember being nervous because I don't think I even knew what an audition meant. So one Saturday morning my mom, sister and I went to his rehearsal studio (which was different from his dance studio) I twirled around a few times and made such an impression that I was immediately accepted. I remember Paul turning to my sister and telling her that she also had great potential. What!!!! all she was doing is standing there looking bored. My mother of course was so proud that my sister had potential, even while looking annoyed and irritated that she was also signed up for dance lessons. Thinking back I am sure that if a clucking chicken had wandered in for an audition with a check in his beak he too, would have had potential according to Paul's standards.
My mother did not drive and my dad worked on Saturday so for five years using buses and a train we would take the 2 hour trek from my home in Middle Village to Woodside for lessons at Paul's dance studio. Giving up my Saturdays each week did not bother me because I loved to dance so much. On the other hand my sister and her great potential, complained and moaned every Saturday that she had to go and leave her friends.
I remember vividly the moment that I decided to stop taking lessons. Every year Paul put on this unbelievable recital production. There was always a theme and that year it was Around the World In Eighty Days. Since all our costumes were custom made, (nothing but the best for Paul) we each had to be measured to ensure the perfect fit. It was my turn to go in, I was eleven at the time and as the lady wrapped the tape measure around my waist she said, "wow you must love your pasta". I already knew I was chunky but by saying those words to me it totally changed what I thought of myself. How could I dance if I was heavy, I was totally embarrassed. I finished out the year but refused to go back the next year, to my sisters delight.
My mother was so disappointed, she tried everything to change my mind but I would not budge. So my dancing career ended at the young age of eleven. I am sure that I would not have gone on to win any awards or had a starring role in a Broadway show but I gave up something I loved because of a few offhanded words that someone said to me.
So what I have learned is not to let others define who you are and what you love with words or actions. A few years ago a few co workers and I took a dance class. We could not remember the steps and most of the time we laughed through the lesson but we all had a great time and we all loved every minute of it. We probably need to take another class soon.