We had discussed dancing a few times before, during lunch conversations about what the different art credit possibilities were (which, as it turns out, dance is not actually one of them. Oops), and his contribution to the conversation was always to shake his head vigorously - scrunched eyebrows and all - and say something to the effect of "yeah, I can't dance". When I pointed out that no one in any of these intro art credit classes was actually expected to be good at whatever they were learning, his response was simply his classic "eh"+shrug (the combination he used whenever he disagreed with you or was uncertain about something you said).
To my delight, spring quarter of second year came around, and in the middle of our Introduction to Western Art Music course, the professor suddenly announced one day that she wanted us to try a new type of learning: she wanted us to "feel and depict" the nuances in the music by choreographing a dance to the fourth movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. She split the class up into two - the dancers and the judges (why she thought it was a good idea to have half the class embarrass themselves by actually trying the assignment and the other half just sit around and not have to do anything is beyond me... but that's a topic for another time). Austin and I ended up in the dancers group, partly because we were a little slow at declaring our objections, and partly because we weren't averse to embarrassment and thought it might end up being fun.
Our group of 7 or 8 was given about 5 minutes to make something up - a daunting task, as although by this point we all knew the music well, none of us had any experience choreographing at all. We managed to come up with an intro where we would come out (marching and swaying to the music) from behind the curtain onto the "stage", which is how the transition from the 3rd to 4th movement felt to us. We discussed characterizing the rhythm and tempo of the rest of the piece with certain movements, and having one distinct dance move per theme... and then we ran out of time and ended the planning session with "screw it, we'll just wing it".
And that's pretty much what happened. I'd love to report that what transpired was as majestic as the movement itself (my personal favorite of the four), and that we successfully translated the music to dance in the supremely long 5 minutes we were given... but as you can probably guess, that didn't happen. After the intro, we essentially awkwardly cracked up... and just danced whatever moves popped into our minds (which doesn't sound too bad off hand, but remember, we were doing this in front of a sitting panel of "judges", who I'm pretty sure are probably now scarred for life)
I'll hand it to Austin - he was right. He knew where his talents were and were not, and, as many natural talents as he did have, dancing just wasn't one of them. But even then, he was in the very front laughing and doing big, sweeping movements the entire time. No shyness, no shame. Just enjoying the absurdity of the situation for what it was.