La Vie Dansant

By Lynn Felder, RYT

“Quick, quick, s-l-o-w. Quick, quick, s-l-o-w,” Zeki Maviyildiz says. Clump, clump, d-r-a-g, my feet respond. We are practicing the rumba, the dance of love. I feel like an elephant, bent on trampling delicate pygmies.

I am out of breath. My back hurts, and I am sweating. Zeki smiles, patiently. I am sure that he has never once been out of breath in his short life. I do take some comfort in the fact that his knees hurt, an occupational hazard of Turkish folk dancers who spend a fair amount of time dancing right on their knees. We rumba, more or less smoothly, for a few beats, and then I flub a turn.

“One more time,” Zeki says. We’ve been practicing together about three times a week for a month. By now, I know that “one more time” means 30 more times. I am a slow study. But he says it every time — so cheerfully, so hopefully. “One more time.”

I’ve been dancing ever since I can remember: tap at 4, ballet from 6 to 12, modern dance in college, jazz and contemporary dance after college. From about 1987 to 1990 I danced professionally with a company called Apogee on Hilton Head Island. We even did a couple of gigs at Piccolo Spoleto in Charleston.

About the time I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1998, the swing-dance craze was hitting town. One of the main clues that I was sick was that I was too tired to go dancing on Wednesday nights at the Millennium Center.

I fell in love with yoga while I was getting treated for cancer. You don’t have to move your feet as much in yoga, so the peripheral neuropathy (numbness and burning in hands and feet) that often accompanies chemotherapy didn’t interfere with the yoga.

My yoga practice helped ease my way back into dancing — social dancing, anyway. My husband and I took ballroom-dance lessons to prepare a waltz for our wedding last April 30. And now, David and I dance together whenever there’s music — and sometimes when there’s not.

Training for the local Dancing with the Stars (or Dancing with the Media Types, as I prefer to call it) has been a labor of love: I get to dance, and I get to support Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.

I’m determined that in a month my “clump, clump, d-r-a-g” will more closely approximate Zeki’s “quick, quick, s-l-o-w,” and that we’ll inspire the audience to tap their feet and sway and maybe even say, “Wow, that looks like fun!”

’Cause it is. Tons.

(P.S. We won the contest! Hurrah!)


Copyright by Lynn Felder April 2006. Lynn Felder is an award-winning journalist, a yoga teacher registered with the Yoga Alliance and the author of the DVD “Gentle Yoga for Cancer Patients,” available at

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