Friday, April 3, 2009

Story Behind the Picture - "Dancing Shoes"

I originally created this piece for Natasha’s wonderful weekly blog challenge: the theme was “dancing.” I’ve choreographed and performed countless dances in both bare feet and ballet slippers (and even started taking pointe classes at the virtually geriatric age of 21), but these shoes are, by far, my favorite. These are the shoes I wore on my wedding day. If you’ll look closely, perhaps you’ll see where my husband stepped on my toes several times during our first dance together...Fred Astair, he is not. These are the shoes I wore when my father twirled me around the dance floor in a beautiful waltz, recalling every bit of his own dance training in his youth. These are the shoes that nearly crippled me: I had to exchange them for sneakers by the time Marty and I cut the cake…they were not designed for endless hours of dancing.

I decided to photograph them on my feet. It has been seven years, two children, and countless hours of hours of yoga since I last wore these shoes. Did anyone know that yoga actually makes your feet expand? I tell my students this as an anecdotal joke, but clearly, it is true. Carrying children around for nine months also has a similar effect. After wriggling my feet into my shoes, al la the evil stepsisters in Cinderella, I realized I would need to roll up my jeans to get a clear shot of my feet. Now there’s a look: rolled jeans and heels. I began to wonder if living so close to New Jersey was beginning to affect my fashion sense.
*please refrain from throwing tomatoes at the author: she merely jests*

My next hurdle was lighting my shot: generally, natural light from the windows doesn’t illuminate our floors, and this was a particularly dreary day outside. As I wandered around the house in my rolled jeans and painful shoes, I noticed the soft light falling across the dining room table. Perfect! The table pad that protects to wood provided me with the subtle backdrop I envisioned, so I climbed up and tried not to bump my head on the chandelier as I positioned my feet in the optimum location. Did I mention there are a lot of windows in my dining room? Yet another case where I’m flabbergasted my neighbors have not called the police. Anyway, after much finagling, I managed to take enough usable images before I nearly fell backwards off the table. Apparently teaching yoga doesn’t really prepare one to balance on a table in these shoes (and anyway, I’m not sure I want to be known as a lady who can dance on a table in high heels…).

Some things have not changed in seven years. I still feign anonymity if Marty starts dancing in public (think Elaine from "Seinfeld" and you’re on the right track), I still look forward to dancing with my father on those occasions that he can be coaxed into doing so, and I still keep these shoes safely tucked away at the top of my closet as a reminder of the happy night where we all danced like there was no one watching.

8 comments:

Rich said...

do we want to know why the neighbors would need to call the cops!

Natasha said...

I LOVE this photo, I loved the first version I got of the story and now I love this! What fun...the dancing like no one was watching. That's the best image...along with you in rolled up jeans and painful shoes on the table...dancing on tables is so underrated thank for bringing it back LOL....you do great work!

Beholden-To-Nature (Kenna) said...

*Always* dance like no one is watching. It's cathartic for the soul! (Even if you *do* dance like Elaine)! hee hee

What a wonderful post-- very funny and touching all in one. Love your writing style, very much enjoyed reading this Story Behind the Picture.

UrbanJunkies/zuppaartista said...

sweet story michelle! and cute picture! definitely keep dancing elaine style!

Frenzy23 said...

I found your blog through Natasha's Thursday Sweet Treats, and I loved this photograph!
I'm curious as to why you started pointe at 21. Is there a story behind that?
I'm imagining someone taking this picture as you described...the things we do for good photographs! :)

jodi said...

totally love this photo. i saw it on the thursday sweet treat blog. i've been taking pictures of feet, mainly without shoes since i can remember. my kids think i'm a little crazy. it was great to read how your photograph came together. i love hearing about an artists creative process. i hope there are lots more opportunities to dance with or without shoes.

Allie said...

Another wonderful story, Michelle! Beautiful photograph and lovely, lovely memories!

designing woman said...

I loved the photo and the story. Since I was there the day we all danced like no one was watching, I also remember that your foot was broken the day we/you went looking for your wedding shoes. I had to try them on for you. Remember?

I also remember watching you and Marty and you and your father dancing. It still brings tears to my eyes.

Love, Mom

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