Dorothy shared light freelyPublished 12:00am Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Unfortunately, I cannot call her teacher because I was not lucky enough to study dance with Dorothy Rainer Sellars. Well that is not exactly true; she did talk me into taking an adult tap dancing class. She even gave me tap shoes. After about three classes, she graciously allowed me to come up with an excuse for not continuing my attempt at tapping. We both knew tap dancing was not my calling.
No, she wasn‘t my dance teacher, but this strong, creative, talented, funny, loving, giving, and yes tough, woman was my friend. In my mind, she was invincible. That is why it is hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that she is gone. With the spirit and energy she embodied, I guess I thought she’d be around forever, but no one is around forever.
Today, I sat remembering Dorothy. She and I got to know each other when I worked at the newspaper in Opp. I remember the day the whirlwind that was Dorothy blew into my office. She was there to talk about publicity for her, “Evening of Dance.” I liked her immediately and I think the feeling was mutual.
Still on that day, she was on a mission. She wanted the photos of her students printed a certain way and in a certain order. The requests came nicely, but you knew she would let you know if things weren’t exactly as she planned. She wanted perfection, not for herself but for the students whose talents the event showcased. I smile now remembering that meeting
Of course, it was not my first encounter with her. Years before, I watched teach dance in Florala when I went to rehearsal with my neighbor, Margaret, one of her students. Funny how life twists and the child so amazed by this woman who taught dance became one of her grown-up friends.
I found if Dorothy called you friend, and she called so many people friend, it was a blessing. She gave from her heart to everyone in her life. Some of my favorite things are two of her handmade Christmas ornaments and a bookmark from the Metropolitan Museum of Art that she sent me when she was on one of her summer trips to New York City.
Oh those New York trips — how she loved them. She was always so excited about going and she’d tell me about the classes she planned to take. That was one of the wonderful things about Dorothy; she remained a student her whole life and loved to learn new things.
“I’m going to take you with me to New York one of these summers,” she told me lots of times. We never made that trip, but I so enjoyed hearing about her adventure when she returned.
When I heard she died quietly in her sleep, I felt sad that she was gone, but so grateful that it was a peaceful passing. And I felt blessed to have great memories.
I can still hear her throaty laugh; see her gesturing as she talked.
Dorothy Rainer Sellars discovered her gift, her passion — a love of dance and she shared that passion with her students. But she also showed them, showed all of us who knew her, so much more.
She showed us how to live because she lived full out, holding back nothing. She was gentle and giving, but also tough and demanding when the situation called for it. Dorothy was genuine and she embraced life. Everyone who met her felt the powerful energy emanating from that small frame.
She was what I call a being of light because she shone with brightness from deep inside. Her family, her students, her friends, her community were all recipients of her light because she shared it so freely.
You know now that I think about it, I learned a great deal about how to live from our friendship. So, I will join so many others whose lives she touched and gratefully call Dorothy Rainer Sellars my teacher.