Sadly, Priscilla has been voted off the island – or, more accurately, off the dance floor. She put up the good fight on Dancing With The Stars and lasted until the fifth night of competition, but a couple of slips last Monday did her in. I will leave it to others to argue whether the judges were looking for a way to vote her off, or if they showed favoritism to Marlee Matlin because of her hearing disability, or if Louis van Amstel made a poor choice for their dance routine. We probably all agree with those who state that Priscilla’s five-week resume of performances was superior to that of Jason, Marissa, and Christian, all of whom will come back next week.
However, I will say one thing. That split by a 62-year-old-woman was absolutely amazing!!! It will be a long time before we will ever see another dancer eligible for Social Security do something like that. Maybe there ought to be a Seniors Division, like in golf. Priscilla would be their superstar.
In last week’s column, I made reference to her history of ballet lessons. Realizing that I was drawing on a hazy memory, I decided to go back and re-read Priscilla’s book “Elvis and Me.” It has probably been fifteen years since my first reading, and it was just as enjoyable the second time. Here’s what I found about Priscilla’s dancing history.
In 1963, she was 18-years-old and had just received her high school diploma: “I had no real goals after graduation, but I did sometimes dream of becoming a dancer.” Those dreams apparently did not get fulfilled until five years later when Elvis and Priscilla had been married for a few months.
While writing in her book about events in 1968, Priscilla said: “We returned to Los Angeles, where Elvis was filming Live A Little, Love A Little… I started searching for dance classes to enroll in. I looked through the local Yellow Pages until one class caught my attention, a school for jazz and ballet not far from home. The studio was small and unpretentious… Still too shy to dance in front of a group, I wanted to wait until I was sure I could keep up with the older dancers before taking a class. I began taking private lessons three times a week… I was soon doing lifts and jumps, things I’d never thought I could accomplish. He [the studio owner] said I had the potential to be a good dancer, and he pushed me to the limit. Out of frustration and pain, I would want to quit. Demanding that I continue, he told me I was building character and forced me to repeat the same routine until it was nearly perfected. This made me realize that I could go farther than I’d ever dreamed… I was accomplishing something. For the first time I was creating, feeling good about myself, and couldn’t wait to get to class each day…dancing was becoming my life; I was obsessed with it.”
Later in 1968 while Elvis was preparing for the Comeback Special, Priscilla wrote: “In his absence I was taking care of Lisa in addition to attending dance classes in the morning, ballet in the early evening, and two jazz classes at night, lasting often until one in the morning. I was now studying with a new dance instructor, who was using me to give demonstrations for the evening classes. Many of the students were professional dancers. I had diligently worked my way into the company, rehearsing four hours every day to master new steps, constantly pushing myself to new limits, and eventually I was to take a place in the dance company, anonymously performing shows on weekends at colleges in the L.A. area.”
This gives us a sense of just how much Priscilla achieved in her dance training. You’ve got to be pretty good to be giving demonstrations to professional dancers. What really amazes me are those dance company shows she performed in anonymously. What do you think Elvis would have done if he had ever found out about them? My bet is that he would have pulled her out of that dance company in a heartbeat. Other passages in Priscilla’s book make it very clear that Elvis wouldn’t stand for any other men to be watching his wife’s body intently.
The last reference to dancing in Priscilla’s book was: “I was still there to tend to his [Elvis’] needs, as he wanted his wife to be, while also creating my own world, no longer intimidated by the magnitude of his. I was growing, learning, and expanding as an individual.”
I think we can all agree that Priscilla’s experience on Dancing With The Stars enabled her to grow, learn, and expand even more. Well done. Priscilla.
© 2008 Philip R Arnold All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net