When I kicked off my shoes and entered the doorway of the main studio at Shuffles Dance Center, a flurry of dancers came sweeping across the floor toward me. For a moment, I wondered if their delight was because they hadn't seen me in four months, or if they knew I had a plate of fresh-baked cookies in my hand. Since they still seemed glad to see me after all of the cookies were gone, I'm going to tell myself they missed me.
Several times this winter, I'd run into Laura Grace and Meghan at Baker's Crust, where they wait tables and I habitually drag coworkers for lunch meetings. Laura Grace dances with the Starr Foster Dance Company; Meghan dances with my friend Julie's company, Dim Sum Dance. A few weeks ago, Laura Grace insisted I stop by one of the SFDP's weekend rehearsals. I said I'd bring cookies.
It's a corner of my own creation, this cookie baking. During the weeks leading to my big dance debut -- and the rest of the company's major fall production -- I'd show up at rehearsal with a plate of cookies. We went through plates of chocolate-cranberry oatmeal cookies, chocolate-orange cookies, ginger-molasses cookies, gingerbread cookies and whatever the bakery at Joe's Market had on hand. I learned long ago that dancers thrive on at least one of three vices -- they're compulsive cigarette smokers, heavy drinkers or utter sugar addicts. I've fallen in with a group that trends toward the sugar fetish.
After the hugs -- and after the cookies miraculously vanished from the plate -- I lounged on the floor as the dancers whirled through three of the five pieces they'll be performing in April at the Firehouse Theater. (April 5, 6 and 7 for you early planners.) An hour later, during a break, I slipped out -- though not before telling Starr that she'd better find a spot for me in the October production...