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Shall we

Dance? Story Cathy Newman / Photographs Brian

22 THE CURATOR

THE CURATOR 23


We dance, not just with our bodies, but from the heart.

F

rom the first kick of

with a lute, dancing on a clay plaque discov-

court; celebrate birth, death, and everything

a baby’s foot to the

ered in northern Israel.

in between. We even presume to reorder the

“Anniversary

We dance, not just with our bodies, but

world, as if, in the Shaker song, by “turning,

Waltz,” we dance—

from the heart. “Dance is bodies sounding

turning we come round right.” Dance is so

to internal rhythms

off,” says Judith Lynne Hanna, an anthropolo-

profane, some religions ban it; so sacred, oth-

and external sounds. Before the written word,

gist at the University of Maryland. We pour

ers claim it.

humans spoke the language of dance. It’s as

out love and hate, joy and sorrow; appeal to

Dance in America can hardly contain itself.

ancient as the 3,400-year-old image of a man

the spirits, gods, and nature; flirt, seduce,

We dance—from Florida to Alaska, from ho-

last

24 THE CURATOR


We dance, not just with our bodies, but from the heart.

rizon to horizon and sea to sea, in the ball-

walk, Charleston, two-step, jerk, swim, Watu-

We dance out of anguish, to attain solace,

rooms of big cities and whistle-stop bars, in

si, twist, frug, monkey, electric slide, Harlem

and, sometimes, in an attempt to heal. “I re-

Great Plains Grange halls, underground ki-

shake, shim sham shimmy, cabbage patch,

member a couple,” says Lester Hillier, owner

vas, church basements, barrio nightclubs, and

fandango, garba, gourd dance, corn dance,

of a dance studio in Davenport, Iowa. The

high school auditoriums. We do the beguine,

hora, hopak—as if our lives depended on it.

husband was a retired farmer. His wife, a

polka, waltz, fox-trot, tarantella, jitterbug,

Some believed just that: A medieval super-

housewife, wore flat shoes and a floral house-

samba, salsa, rumba, mambo, tango, bomba,

stition averred that dancing in front of Saint

dress. “One of their sons had been killed,”

cha-cha, merengue, mazurka, conga, cake-

Vitus’s statue ensured a year of good health.

Hillier recalls. “He’d been in a love triangle

THE CURATOR 25


and was shot in a club. The devastated parents

Dance, like the rhythm of a beating heart,

dance. It’s as ancient as the 3,400-year-old im-

had a dance lesson booked the day after it

is life. It is, also, the space between heartbeats.

age of a man with a lute, dancing on a clay

happened. They insisted on coming anyway.”

It is, said choreographer Alwin Nikolais, what

plaque discovered in northern Israel.

They practiced the steps they’d learned—

happens between here and there, between the

We dance, not just with our bodies, but

the rumba, the fox-trot, the exuberant move-

time you start and the time you stop. “It is,”

from the heart. “Dance is bodies sounding

ments of swing. As the hour drifted to a close,

says Judith Jamison, artistic director of the Al-

off,” says Judith Lynne Hanna, an anthropolo-

the couple asked for one last dance. They

vin Ailey American Dance Theater, “as close

gist at the University of Maryland. We pour

wanted a waltz. And when it ended, she rest-

to God as you are going to get without words.”

out love and hate, joy and sorrow; appeal to

ed her head on his chest; he wrapped his arms

To dance is human. To dance is divine.

the spirits, gods, and nature; flirt, seduce,

around her shoulders. Then they stood still,

From the first kick of a baby’s foot to the

court; celebrate birth, death, and everything

last “Anniversary Waltz,” we dance—to inter-

in between. We even presume to reorder the

nal rhythms and external sounds. Before the

world, as if, in the Shaker song, by “turning,

written word, humans spoke the language of

turning we come round right.” Dance is so

clinging to one another. “If we just sat at home, what would we do?” he said quietly.

We dance—from Florida to Alaska, from horizon to horizon and sea to sea, in the ballrooms of big cities and whistle-stop bars, in Great Plains Grange halls, underground kivas, church basements, barrio nightclubs, and high school auditoriums.

26 THE CURATOR


We dance—from Florida to Alaska, from horizon to horizon and sea to sea, in the ballrooms of big cities and whistle-stop bars, in Great Plains Grange halls, underground kivas, church basements, barrio nightclubs, and high school auditoriums. profane, some religions ban it; so sacred, oth-

walk, Charleston, two-step, jerk, swim, Watu-

husband was a retired farmer. His wife, a

ers claim it.

si, twist, frug, monkey, electric slide, Harlem

housewife, wore flat shoes and a floral house-

Dance in America can hardly contain itself.

shake, shim sham shimmy, cabbage patch,

dress. “One of their sons had been killed,”

We dance—from Florida to Alaska, from ho-

fandango, garba, gourd dance, corn dance,

Hillier recalls. “He’d been in a love triangle

rizon to horizon and sea to sea, in the ball-

hora, hopak—as if our lives depended on it.

and was shot in a club. The devastated par-

rooms of big cities and whistle-stop bars, in

Some believed just that: A medieval super-

ents had a dance lesson booked the day after it

Great Plains Grange halls, underground ki-

stition averred that dancing in front of Saint

happened. They insisted on coming anyway.”

vas, church basements, barrio nightclubs, and

Vitus’s statue ensured a year of good health.

They practiced the steps they’d learned—

high school auditoriums. We do the beguine,

We dance out of anguish, to attain solace,

the rumba, the fox-trot, the exuberant move-

polka, waltz, fox-trot, tarantella, jitterbug,

and, sometimes, in an attempt to heal. “I re-

ments of swing. As the hour drifted to a close,

samba, salsa, rumba, mambo, tango, bomba,

member a couple,” says Lester Hillier, owner

the couple asked for one last dance. They

cha-cha, merengue, mazurka, conga, cake-

of a dance studio in Davenport, Iowa. The

wanted a waltz. And when it ended, she rested

THE CURATOR 27


We dance, not just with our bodies, but from the heart.

Vitus’s statue ensured a year of good health.

her head on his chest; he wrapped his arms

We dance—from Florida to Alaska, from ho-

around her shoulders. Then they stood still,

rizon to horizon and sea to sea, in the ball-

We dance out of anguish, to attain solace,

clinging to one another.

rooms of big cities and whistle-stop bars, in

and, sometimes, in an attempt to heal. “I re-

Great Plains Grange halls, underground ki-

member a couple,” says Lester Hillier, owner

vas, church basements, barrio nightclubs, and

of a dance studio in Davenport, Iowa. The

Dance, like the rhythm of a beating heart,

high school auditoriums. We do the beguine,

husband was a retired farmer. His wife, a

is life. It is, also, the space between heartbeats.

polka, waltz, fox-trot, tarantella, jitterbug,

housewife, wore flat shoes and a floral house-

It is, said choreographer Alwin Nikolais, what

samba, salsa, rumba, mambo, tango, bomba,

dress. “One of their sons had been killed,”

happens between here and there, between

cha-cha, merengue, mazurka, conga, cake-

Hillier recalls. “He’d been in a love triangle

the time you start and the time you stop. “It

walk, Charleston, two-step, jerk, swim, Watu-

and was shot in a club. The devastated par-

is,” says Judith Jamison, artistic director of

si, twist, frug, monkey, electric slide, Harlem

ents had a dance lesson booked the day after it

the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, “as

shake, shim sham shimmy, cabbage patch,

happened. They insisted on coming anyway.”

close to God as you are going to get without

fandango, garba, gourd dance, corn dance,

They practiced the steps they’d learned—

words.”

hora, hopak—as if our lives depended on it.

the rumba, the fox-trot, the exuberant move-

To dance is human. To dance is divine.

Some believed just that: A medieval super-

ments of swing. As the hour drifted to a close,

Dance in America can hardly contain itself.

stition averred that dancing in front of Saint

the couple asked for one last dance. They

“If we just sat at home, what would we do?” he said quietly.

28 THE CURATOR


Shall We Dance