Dance performance at Asheville's Downtown after 5 taught columnist more than fancy footwork

Citizen-Times reporters Casey Blake (left) and Carol Motsinger performed Beyonce's "Single Ladies" dance on Friday at Downtown After 5. Dance teacher Kathleen Hahn will offer "Single Ladies" classes again in June. / Erin Brethauer/

Written by Carol Motsinger

Want to dance?

The next Beyonce “Single Ladies” 10-week series will start at 6 p.m. June 6 at the French Broad Food Co-op studio, 90 Biltmore Ave. It’s $10 per class or $80 for the full series if paid at the beginning.

 Even after months of preparation for last Friday's flash mob performance of the dance from Beyonce's “Single Ladies” music video, I was so nervous minutes before we pushed our way through unsuspecting crowds on Lexington Avenue, I went into hiding.

 Well, more like my face went into hiding: I never wear serious makeup (I bought my first tube of mascara for Halloween 2010) and decided to disguise myself under red lipstick, mascara and gold eye shadow. 

 My red lips looked as if they were stained by Snow White's poison apple; and the application of my eye shadow reminded me of painting technique of my framed self-portrait my mom displays in her home. The one I did when I was 4. 

 I didn't look like myself, that's for sure, but the more I thought about it after those terrifying 3 minutes and 19 seconds were complete, that was kind of the whole point of me doing this. I wanted to not just look like myself but not really act like myself, either.

Gyrating in front of hordes of people is not something I have ever wanted to do. I went to my first dance class around the same time I smeared paint around for that framed self-portrait. My mother took a picture of me on my way to the first dance class, and it's in my baby book fulfilling a dual purpose: a picture of me going to my first — and last — dance class.

I remember missing my mom a lot and crying. And having to stand on my head (I'm not sure that my 4-year-old memory is right about that detail). So I hated it and crossed my heart and hoped to die that I would never go to another wretched dance class.

That promise certainly didn't prevent me from rocking out to Ace of Base and Madonna in the privacy of my childhood room or making my dogs flip out today when I flail around to Robyn.

But I've never learned a serious dance. Where there were steps! That I had to memorize! When my dear friend and colleague Casey Blake told me about a series to learn the dance back in the fall, with her support, I felt it was time to face my fears and connect with my inner Sasha Fierce.

Kathleen Hahn, our esteemed dance teacher, didn't make me stand on my head once during the weekly dance sessions. She broke down the dance to make it accessible to a range of people, old and young, experienced and amateur. Her positive attitude — and almost comically big smile — assured me that I would stick that really fast spin toward the end of the song.

I did stick it on Friday. And to be honest, I even had a really good time once the beat dropped and crowd started to roar. No tears, but I did miss my mom (I'll send her the video, which you can find on YouTube, by the way).

Hahn and her constant smile are offering another series of “Single Ladies” classes, starting in June. Visit And you never know; there might be another flash mob up Hahn's sleeve.

When I scrubbed off my lipstick and eye shadow almost as soon as we pointed to our ring finger for the last time, I realized that the painted face looking back at me in the mirror still looked familiar.

That self-portrait hanging in the house has a prominent place because of my artistic choices: My straight brown hair is blue ringlets; my eyes are circled by bright golden eyelashes. I painted a big red heart, and what appear to be internal organs, lungs and the like, on my torso.

It didn't look anything like myself now or then. But I was the artist, so I got to determine what I looked like, who I was and even what internal things I want external. I still get to make those choices and to challenge myself, even through things as silly as learning the dance from a 2-year-old viral video, to truly know all the parts of me.

This is the opinion of Citizen-Times staff writer Carol Motsinger, who writes an entertainment column every Friday for Take5. She can be reached at