And a 5 6 7 8…!

As part of our constant quest for innovation and funkiness, Drinking Tips for Teens is pleased to present the world’s first choreographed blog post. What’s black and white and ready to boogie all over? Read on!

I can act. I like to think I can sing. I’ve even been known to do something that’s been described as “dancing” but only because it’s simpler than saying “awkwardly putting bystanders at risk, rhythmically.”

From first position (cowering in trepidation), snap your head back with an arrogant sneer, snap your fingers with panache, then snap the waistband of your Spandex to make sure they won’t fall down during the routine.

I can more or less do those three things separately, but put them together and it’s like my IQ drops 40 points. It’s like I become a Republican. It’s like I start making obvious, hackneyed jokes.

Continue snapping whatever requires snapping as you begin to run in time in a tight circle clockwise. Lean into it. More. More! You’ve fallen. Pretend you meant to do that.

I’ve discovered this during rehearsals for Guys and Dolls, which opens at the Haskell Opera House in Stanstead this Friday. It’s my first musical since I was maybe 19. Even back then, I seem to recall my dance instructions boiled down to “just move your arms a bit and try to blend.”

As you lie there, slap your hands on the floor to a steady beat, like you’re making hamburger patties. While keeping time, slice some imaginary onions. Do you have any hot dogs? No? Man, I could really dig a hot dog right now.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m now 51 years old. Seeing me move is like watching someone tossing partially filled bags of flour off a truck, and I’m the flour.

Leap to your feet and spin towards the audience, baring your teeth like you’re on “America’s Got Talent” and Simon Cowell has just offered you a back rub.

But stop imagining me as a finely milled grain a moment and picture me instead trying to remember a precise series of moves while singing in character. These are not complicated moves – not a box step among them, not even a box lunch. Just simple movements, like walking with enthusiasm and the occasional dance equivalent of a high five.

Now KICK 2 3 4, POINT 6 7 8, LEAP 2 3 4, TURN 6 7 8, and shimmmmmmy… FLAUNT 6 7 8, SPLICE 2 3 4, SKIM 6 7 8, CRAMP 2 VEX 4, BONK BONK BONK BONK and JAPE! Hold it for three beats, then… JAZZ HANDS as you remind the audience about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets.

I know all the moves. Rather, I know them in theory. I can tell you exactly what I need to do. For example, at one point, I need to swing my arms right, left, up, down, while walking gently in place. “I’m a Little Teapot” is more complicated.

A series of click-heel leaps (known as a “poule de vidange”) brings you to a screeching halt to the right. After you finish screeching, thrust your hands forward, palms up, then back to see if anyone has placed any 50s in them.

Instead I go right, left, right, left, as God and nature intended. If only the lyrics were “Right, left, up, down,” I might get it, though the audience might want their money back. But my brain can’t connect. It’s like simultaneously patting your head and rubbing your belly: neither gets the attention it deserves and people move away from you on the subway.

Drop to your right knee as you slowly sweep your left arm while your right foot taps in time and your left eyebrow twitches in countertime as your right fingers wiggle suggestively and your left kidney functions at 10 percent, so you should go right away to your doctor.

In the end, though, this is good. When you’re not natural at something, you need to work hard. You need to concentrate. You really need to not trip, but focus is equally important!

You approach the climax, swaying back and forth with the grace of a swan and the intensity of every Nicolas Cage character. Swing your arms right, left, up, down.

I’m confident, then, that with continued practice and diligence, I will be ready by opening night.

No, not right, left, right, left! Right, left, up, down! It’s really not that difficult!

And if not, well, at least it’s a comedy.


This is about the extent of my “moves.”


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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26 Responses to And a 5 6 7 8…!

  1. markbialczak says:

    You are going to be such a Guy, Ross.

  2. ksbeth says:

    how fun! and the audience will be none the wiser, no matter what does or does not happen. enjoy!

  3. This is a great post, and I’m sure you’ll be a Cadillac of Detroit’s. Saint Vitus be with you.

  4. Have fun – no one will notice any creaky joints (except you).

  5. Ahdad says:

    Enjoy it, whilst it lasted. Is it still appropriate to say break a leg? Or has Trump got out of that agreement too?

  6. This Friday?! As in, tonight!? How much time did they give you for rehearsal? Well, break a leg, actor. Tell them you’re not so much ‘dancing’ in the traditional sense but, rather, doing a modern, experimental hommage to ‘dance.’ Tell them you’re French.

    That’s good old reliable Nathan!
    Nathan, Nathan, Nathan, Detroit!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Yeah, tonight! We started only in late May but have ramped it up only in the last two weeks or so. I was thinking, “There’s no way…” but it’s come together. You know, community theatre, people with tons of other commitments. But it’s always a blast, and the audience for these things are pretty forgiving.

  7. “It’s like I become a Republican.”

    That would take 1. A gigantic windfall of money that you invest and then want to ruthlessly, perhaps even illegally protect from your fellow man and/or 2. A brain injury. You’re good.

  8. Reading your blog, I was inspired to flip through the Mennonite Pocket Guide to Dance (only two pages – granted – but the font is quite small) and found a similar choreography to the one you laid out. Google, “Milkin’ the Cow!” for old-colony “jazz hands”.

    It’s no “Sausage-Maker’s Waltz”, but verily, it is pleasing to behold.

  9. Standing O over here. Love it! 😉

  10. Fabulous Ross! Sounds a lot like the dance sequence at the end of Blazing Saddles. Made me laugh right out loud.

  11. Pingback: When my barber retires, I’m out of here | Drinking Tips for Teens

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