Out of Retirement By Dalmacia Flemming

Out of Retirement

By Dalmacia Flemming


Nina sighed heavily as she looked out upon the stacks of shoe boxes and various piles of clothes and other belongings all over her bed and bedroom floor.  She was in the midst of “The Big Purge”.  What a mess!  It was clear she had some hoarding tendencies!

Nina carefully stepped over the piles and made her way to the kitchen.  A cup of coffee was required if she was to reach her goal by the end of the day … a clear bed.  … Better make that a pot of coffee!

Nina pulled her bed pillow out from under a huge pile, aligned it half way up the wall and half on the floor and made a nice temporary seat on which to sit so that she could enjoy her coffee and ponder her upcoming task.  From here she had a clear view of her completely empty walk-in closet!  Nina hadn’t seen her closet like this since she moved into her condo about 20 years ago!

Look at all those shoe boxes!  Some of them looked pretty old Nina mused.  Nina set her cup down and reached over to the top box in one of the piles.  She picked it up.  The shoe boxes on the bottom of the stack in the closet were now on the top of the stack on the bedroom floor.  She sat back down on her pillow-seat.  “Capezio” Nina said out loud, reading the label.  She opened the box … “My tap shoes!” 

There they were … shiny patent leather, 2 inch heels with a single strap, Mary Jane style.  And they looked so elegant … still.  Nina put them on, stretched her legs straight out in front of her and admired them.  Then she stood up … they felt good.

Nina walked out to the hallway; the hardwoods of her bedroom were completely obscured by the contents of her closet.

Let’s see … how about flap ball change, that’s a good beginning step.  Nina had “performed” this step and many others a zillion times … from the driver’s seat of her car during her commute to and from work, during work meetings as well.  She would envision the steps in her head and then make precise micro movements with her toes inside of her shoes, even while driving.  For how many years now?  A Lot; Nina had just “retired”.

Nina felt that this process did count as “practicing” to a certain extent; she was always able to tell when she messed up.  I guess this would now be the test of her theory.

Flap ball change, flap ball change, flap ball change; Nina continued like this down the hallway.  Hey, not too bad.  How about a simple time step:  step stomp hop step flap, step stomp hop step flap.

Thirty minutes later Nina was executing semi-complicated time steps, not perfectly but not too shabbily either, sweating and panting like a pig.

Nina poured a tall glass of water and sat back down on her pillow-seat in the bedroom to rest.  Time to get back to work.

Nina completed her day’s goal by about 11 PM and then flopped immediately into her exposed bed.  She dosed off thinking of her last tap performance in Meany Hall Studio Theater during her college days.  Who WAS that teacher … she used to dance with the Bill Evans’ Dance company … her name was Pat something … Nina heard that Pat had later become a Rockette … funny … she seemed so un-Rockette at the time…

The next five days Nina spent processing the rest of her piles, painting her closet, donating unwanted stuff and restocking her closet with one third of her previous belongings.  All the while her shiny patent leather tap shoes sat on display on her dresser.

With this task now complete, Nina decided it was time to get some serious tap practicing in.  She felt invigorated by the combination of owning less stuff; less baggage to weigh her down, plus re-discovering her tap shoes, the hidden jewels that really mattered.

Nina went down to check out the large communal room in her condo building.  Great, it had hardwood floors; she thought it did, but hadn’t been down there in a while and had never really paid any attention to the floors.  And it was off in the corner of the building so she wouldn’t disturb anyone.  Nina signed up for 2 hour blocks every day for the next week.  These evenings were spent reviewing You Tube videos of all her favorites:  Bojangles, Fred, Ginger, Gene, Donald, Anne, Eleanor … 

Nina was amazed at what she accomplished in this first week of practice; the steps, the timing, the pizzazz; it was all still there in her muscle memory.  Nina blocked off more time in the communal condo room for the next three weeks.  By now, old routines had made their way to the forefront of her mind.  Who would have thought that what started out to be a simple cleaning and purging exercise would transfer so wonderfully into other aspects of her life?

One evening while reviewing videos, Nina typed in “Rockettes”.  She paused and thought back to that tap teacher of hers from years ago … Pat something …

Nina went to the Rockettes website to see if there might be a history page to look up former dancers.  There wasn’t, but there WAS a huge flashing pop up … “Rockettes Audition Tour!”  Hmmm … just for laughs … “Requirements”      

… all performers must be at least 18 years of age – no problem there.

… must be between 5’6″ and 5’10 ½” tall (measurements will be taken in stocking feet) – I hope I haven’t shrunk!

… committed to diverse casting for all roles – does “old” count?

… must be proficient in tap, jazz and ballet. Pointe work is a plus, but not required, for Female Dancers – YIKES!

… voice quality is not as important as the ability to sing and dance at the same time – hmmm

The audition in Nina’s city was in three weeks.  Nina decided to attend.

Nina felt the audition went well, even though she was the oldest one there.  She was now dedicated to continue with tap dancing and signed up for a class.

One day after tap class then grocery shopping, Nina hurriedly picked up her mail so that she could eat that fabulous Greek take-out, she was starving!  Now satisfied, she began to thumb through the mail.  What’s this … from The Rockettes?  Nina opened the letter.


Dear Ms. Bailey,

    We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected to be employed as a tap dancer in our new production “Tap Dance Though the Decades”…



What?! … Is this some kind of a joke?  Nina thought hard … who had she told of this audition? …. She didn’t think she had any friends who would be juvenile or mean enough to fake something like this…a job offer from the friggin’ Rockettes … and at her age … could this really be true?


About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on April 9, 2015, in Fiction, Seattle, Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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