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J M (Mike) Nelson
Phone: 612-810-0157

Little Red Wagons and Social Dancing

Yes, I'll make a connection, but first, a bit of nostalgia. The childhood of anyone over 50 probably included the ubiquitous red wagon, likely a "Radio Flyer." ( ) For those not familiar with this classic red wagon, the handle had a slight bend so that the front wheels could be controlled by a passenger while a companion either pulled the wagon with a rope or pushed it from behind. With its versatile handle, capable of either pushing or pulling the wagon bed and useable from either inside or outside the wagon bed, we mastered a wide range of maneuverability. The little red wagon was much more than a toy. Mom used it for gardening, Dad used it to haul construction materials, and the children used it to haul each other, countless other junk, and as a gravity-powered vehicle on any hill with an acceptable terrain, and likely a few without. Those of us raised pre-OSHA, likely took excessive risks with the wagon and numerous other playthings, and most of us survived, a few cuts, bruises, and broken bones notwithstanding.

Eventually something broke, more often the handle. That left us with a rope loop, each end tied to one side of the front axle, and limited us to pulling the wagon with hardly the steering capacity of a draft animal. And that brings us to social dancing. Like the handle on a fully functioning red wagon, a dancer with a good frame can maneuver with flexibility and precision; in contrast, dancers without a good frame are like a wagon with a broken handle, they can only be pulled in one direction. With a solid handle, the wagon could be pulled, push, and steered; but one cannot push a wagon with a rope. If you are a social dancer, is your dance frame more like the solid handle of a fully functioning red wagon, or do your arms flop around like a piece of rope, limiting your ability to either lead or follow?

With a good dance frame, you provide the joy and pleasure of the best little red wagon in the neighborhood. Without a good frame, you are like a wagon with a broken handle, and you can, at best, pull or be pulled; those floppy arms cannot be used for much else. Maintain your frame, and you will be a desirable partner; neglect it, and you will not.

©2008, J M Nelson
This article also appeared under the above title in American Dancer, September-October 2008, p25. Dance Home Page Dance Curriculum Dance Articles

Copyright (c) 2006, J. M. Nelson. All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents prohibited without prior permission from the author.