Watching Byrne teach

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I wish everyone could have seen Byrne Miller teach a dance class. Some of you did, in the video I played at the Beaufort 3 Century forum.  I also have a battered old VHS copy of a master class Byrne taught in Savannah after Duncan died, but it’s too degraded to post online. Judean Drescher’s husband Joe recorded it, from the corner of the rented dance space, just letting the camera run.

Watching it, she totters forward without a cane or walker and uses her arms and hands to illustrate the concepts. This was after she had suffered the blood clot which expanded her leg to twice its normal size. So in the video she urges her bum leg forward with a swinging arm. At first it looks ungainly and awkward until I realize she is leading her legs with her arms. It reminds me of how she used to speak to that leg, telling it to bend and step and straighten – and damming it with curses when it didn’t listen to her.

She does not demonstrate how to get down on the floor, but she gives the dancers good advice. “Don’t get stuck there, push off and use the energy to rebound!” Just like she did in life.

In the video she stands with her hands on her hips, but it’s far from the familiar “Oh no you did NOT” hands-on-hip gesture we see in sit-coms. You know the one,  with thumbs back, all about  judgment. On the tape, Byrne’s thumbs point forward. Her long fingers are fitted against her back. If she had been shorter, it would look off balance, but her proportions allow extreme stances.

She had astounding posture. Her head was always tilted up, neck elongated, long crazy costume earrings dangling. In Joe’s videotape Byrne is completely unaware of the interruption of her long body line caused by the ugly fanny pack she wore that and every day.  The fanny pack was a defiant tribute to her practicality.  She just strapped it about her waist and got on with it – beautiful or not. She needed both hands free to get through life. Bravo!

One thought on “Watching Byrne teach

    mark shaffer said:
    October 5, 2010 at 8:49 AM

    Always good stuff. I need both hands free to get through life, as well. Break a leg in LA.


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