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Apparently I Can’t Dance

I didn't get the job.

You probably saw it in the New York Times yesterday.

The job was director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet.

It went, instead, to Benjamin Millepied, the choreographer and a former principal at New York City Ballet. And the star of Black Swan. And Natalie Portman's husband. Is it a surprise that I lost out to a guy whose last name means "a thousand feet?" Seems like cheating to me, frankly.

Maybe you're saying to yourself right now, John Kenney! I didn't know that you were a first-time novelist AND a trained dancer/choreographer!? That's amazing. Because from your photo you look kind of like a lumbering jackass. (Bizarre that you say that because the name Kenney translates to "one who can't dance.")

While I'm not "technically" trained in ballet, choreography, tap, jazz, ballroom, or dancing of any kind and am, in fact, encouraged by friends, family, strangers, and orthopedists to avoid dancing at all costs, here are my qualifications:

  1. I take my four-year-old daughter to ballet once a week, carrying her because she doesn't want her ballet shoes to touch the ground and get dirty.
  2. We have a ritual where, many evenings after bath time, we have a dance party, cutting some mean rug to the likes of the Doobie Brothers' "Listen to the Music" or Phoenix's "Lisztomania." (If you've not seen P.S. 22's version, I would recommend it. Pure beauty.)
  3. I can't think of anything else.

Today is my last day blogging for Powell's. One has to love a bookstore that gives an unknown like me the space to write some things to a wide audience. So thank you to Powell's for the opportunity and to the 12 of you who've read this blog.

It's been an interesting experience, a blank sheet to fill each morning with something mildly interesting.

A good fear, like most mornings of my writing life.

It's gotten me thinking about fear, about confronting the unknown. That's what writing is. That's what life is.It's gotten me thinking about fear, about confronting the unknown. That's what writing is. That's what life is.

I have a bad habit of clutching to routine in my life, to the safety of the known thing. Spaces, both physical and emotional, that are familiar, safe, and easy to inhabit.

I've tried to fight it. Moving to New York not knowing a soul. Moving to Paris not speaking the language. Writing that never went anywhere. Therapy, talking about my mother's death.

It's hard as hell to step into the unknown. Physically, emotionally.

But it's really the only way. We don't produce anything worthwhile unless we do.

A little fear is a good thing.

Mr. Millepied, let's dance.

÷ ÷ ÷

John Kenney has worked as a copywriter in New York City for 17 years. He has also been a contributor to the New Yorker since 1999. Some of his work appears in a collection of the New Yorker’s humor writing, Disquiet, Please! He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Truth in Advertising
    Used Hardcover $8.95

John Kenney is the author of Truth in Advertising

One Response to "Apparently I Can’t Dance"

    Kit Redeker January 26th, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I loved this tongue-in-cheek last blog from JK. His description of having to pick up his daughter in his arms so she won't get her ballet shoes dirty is perfect. Boy, does she have her daddy wrapped around her little finger. Maybe there is a book in him about the mysteries of fatherhood after he finishes his book tour. It takes bravery to be a novelist these days as the printed word quavers before the electronic monster.

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