language teacher, would accompany the students with his violin. The
dance teacher, a tall and assertive woman, would stomp her foot on
the ground with high heels as a means of counting each dance step
with the music.
I was not much of a singer, nor did I have the best singing voice,
but I did enjoy the dance lessons. I learned ballet and waltz from
the high-heeled- shoe-wearing dance instructor who would snap at
every mistake. The students made it their ultimate goal not to
disappoint her and, as a result, developed an unexpected sense of
self-discipline at the tender age of 10.
About a year later, the language classes were relocated to another
destination. It was also announced that students would prepare for a
talent show at the end of the year for friends and family.
The following year, the school decided to have a Latin theme for
the dance portion of the show. I still don't know why this particular
theme was chosen, considering there were Armenian children attending
an all-Armenian school designed to teach them the fundamentals of the
Armenian language, culture and history. Perhaps Armenian folk dancing
would have been more appropriate, in my opinion.
My class was asked to learn the cha cha. Now that I think back,
none of the girls had any idea how to dance the cha cha, let alone
any Latin-oriented dance. We didn't have a lot of time to rehearse,
so it was decided we would begin rehearsals immediately. Classes were
on Saturdays, which meant rehearsals needed to be after class and
during the week.
The first rehearsal commenced a week later. The headmaster, who
was one of the most authoritative figures I had ever met, took it
upon herself to select her daughter, who then was about 20, to
choreograph and instruct the dance students.
The headmaster, Madame Juliet, as she was known at the time, was a
heavy-set woman with pasty cracked skin and jet-black hair. She would
frequently visit each of the classes wearing long ankle-length skirts
with big baggy blouses covered by even baggier button-down sweaters.
She often wore dark colors with the occasional touch of pink or