status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage
All us village lasses were simply thrilled when the kiddies’ ballet teacher started aerobics lessons up in the school gym.
A month down the line, and most of us are slightly less thrilled to have discovered just how truly uncoordinated we are. Freestyle bopping in the piazza when high on a euphoric cocktail of summer madness and a few glasses of vino, turns out to be not at all the same as being put through strict “Waka Waka” and “Candyman” paces in front of a horribly reflective mirror.
I suppose the fact that the teacher is a Russian ballet dancer should have been an indication that star-jumps and sit-ups were unlikely to be the sole ingredients of our fitness regime, but I’m not sure any of us were truly prepared for the amount of rhythm she was going to ask us to force from recalcitrant limbs.
Shoes not being allowed in the gym, the humiliation is completed by colourful socks with grippy bits on the bottom, or tweet ickle ballet shoes, much like the ones in the photos.
(My bunions are not keen on either of them, but have learnt to keep schtum and twirl on regardless.)
So for the princely sum of 30€ a month, twelve to fifteen girls and ladies sashay up the hill to school two evenings a week; hobbling sweatily back down again an hour later, egos in tatters.
In Southern Spain I alternated between envy, admiration and a mixture of the two when observing how naturally people there moved to music, especially the female of the species. A culture of sevillanas, rumba or other dances learnt from childhood definitely breaks through the self-concious jerkiness that so many of us suffer from when confronted with the prospect of a dance floor.
And although it was a relief to get to France and discover that the French are no more gifted in that department than the Brits, it was also a little sad to realise that there was now zero chance a sense of rhythm was going to inadvertently rub off on me.
Italy differs from the previous two, in that although Italians do not have the natural dancing abilities of the Southern Spaniards, they do have a thriving culture of learning how to fake it.
Nowhere is that more apparent than My Little Italian Village during the summer festas, when the instructed few strut confidently out into the middle of the piazza, and proceed to put the rest of us to shame.
And if the look of fierce concentration on their faces as they undulate round a bachata, spin off a salsa or unite the dance floor in a rousing Waka Waka, does not exactly convey an impression of enjoyment, they still look a heck of a lot better than me.
But as luck would have it, none of them has yet infiltrated our keep-fit sessions, so a surfeit of left feet wins the day.
This is Status Viatoris, whose cronky old knees are especially enjoying aerobics, in Italy.