Grace Notes, by Nancy Kennedy

A few weeks ago, a 4.1 earthquake hit Yorba Linda, Calif., the town where I spent my teen years growing up and near where some of my family still lives.

My niece, Jennifer, was in the shower when the quake hit and things started shaking.

In all the years I lived in California that was among my top 10 greatest fears — to be in the shower and have an earthquake hit and be buried in a pile of debris while naked or in some stage of undress.

I even named my fear“They’llFindMeNakedaphobia.”

But I don’t want to talk about that particular fear, since I live in Florida, which so far isn’t prone to earthquakes, although I suppose it could happen so I’ll just file this fear away in my brain for safe keeping.

No, today’s fear du jour is the dreaded fear of dancing.

There’s even an official term for it: chorophobia.

Recently, I read about a chorophobic, a man who had it was engaged to be married. However, when he learned he would be required to dance with his bride at the wedding reception called the wedding off!

There may have been other things going on, but it may very well have been the chorophobia. I totally get that.

Ironically, I married a guy who loves to dance. However, because we got married by a justice of the peace/real estate person practically before our first date, I didn’t know that about him.

And if we had had a fancy wedding with dancing — well, we didn’t so there’s no need to speculate on what could’ve been.

So far, my chorophobia hasn’t caused too many problems in our marriage. During the past 37 years I’ve danced with my husband a few times, usually at a wedding where alcohol may or may not have been involved.

Besides, he’s my husband and, therefore, contractually obligated to not abandon me when I step on his toes or become so rhythmically impaired that I stop mid-Electric Slide and wander off the dance floor.

Not that that’s happened. Except maybe once or twice.

Years ago I went to do a story for the paper about a local dance studio. I remember being paralyzed with fear at the front door, afraid I would walk through the studio door and be instantly naked.

Thankfully that didn’t happen, not in a literal sense, that is.

However, when the studio owner asked if I liked to dance, I felt my face redden. I felt shame — where did that even come from?

What do you mean you don’t dance? I imagined her saying. Everyone dances. Everyone knows how to dance. There must be something wrong with you.

I felt unworthy and embarrassed. I didn’t dare tell her that I’ve missed many events because I’d been afraid there would be a dance floor and someone would ask me to dance and I’d have to make an excuse not to.

The only thing worse would be if she had offered to give me a lesson.

I can’t follow. I can’t figure out forward and/or backward, left foot or right. I’m clumsy and awkward and unbalanced.

If anyone were to see me I’d feel naked and exposed. So, I work hard at not being seen. No one sees me dance, ever.

Let me tell you, chorophobia, as with most every phobia, is quite mentally exhausting having to rearrange your life around it.

Here’s the irony: More than anything, I want to dance. I’ve always wanted to dance. I’ve always wanted to be the one who, when the music starts, gets up and moves with it, following someone’s lead, keeping in step, staying in sync.

In many ways it’s a picture of how I live out my faith.

Fear often keeps me from doing what I truly want to do.

I hear the music, but I hold back. I want to step out, but I don’t. I want to follow, but I also want to lead, and it doesn’t work that way. There can be only one person leading.

I hate this struggle, but I don’t really know how to be any different.

And I know that I’m missing out on something that could be kind of wonderful.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at

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