It’s Saturday night. It’s time to dance.
For as long as I can remember my mother and father would go dancing on Saturday night. My job was to babysit my two sisters. As I got older, my girl friend would join me.
Dancing was the purpose, dinner and a few drinks, but my parents went to dance. Sometimes the music was live. Sometimes the jukebox belted out their favorite tunes. But the dancing was the thing. From big band to rock and roll, my parents danced.
I remember listening to the big band music on records 33 1/3, the big discs playing the music of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, and the solo voices of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and more. I would sit, huddled in front of the large record player in an era before television and be rapt by the wonder of the music. Occasionally my mother and father would do a brief dance step, either in the kitchen or the family room. Not long, just a quick step. I would look and I would wonder. Dancing. It always held a profound fascination for me.
When I learned to dance I was amazed by the incredible integration of the musical beat and the physical expression of those notes. The Friday night dance in my hometown was about girls and boys and young love, but the most important thing about the Friday night dance was the dancing. We never wanted the dance to end. The last dance was always a slow dance, but it was also the end. It was bitter sweet. Even if we had a date and went out into the summer evening to steal a kiss or two, and the end of the dancing was somehow sad, the music had ended and there was no one more song.
The other night I attended a musical comedy. A friend had a role. Lots of his friends went. The musical was “Chicago.” There was singing. There was slapstick. But the greatest moments were the dance numbers. From tightly choreographed sequences to tap, the dancing captured the story. The dancing captured me.
The power of dance begins with fingers beating the rhythm on the arm of a chair. Then the foot begins to tap. Then the knees follow and there is an inexpressible urge to stand up and dance.
All cultures, throughout all time, have danced. They have danced their religious truths, they have danced their history and their heritage. The music, familiar or strange, 4/4 time or in some off-beat syncopation, always expresses more when it is danced.
For it is “to dance perchance to live” that we have life. Watch a child, a little child taking her or his first steps, add some music. The eyes light up and in halting steps, hearing a rhythm all the child’s own, the child bounces and then there is dance.
Nature dances as well. Each season has a dance all of it’s own. Winter with snowflakes going up high and coming down low in a whirling dance. Spring with the gentle breezes allowing the tree branches newly adorned with leaves so intensely green to swing and sway to a melody all their own. Sumer with the grasshoppers and crickets flitting here and there to their own strange set of notes as the sun beats down and the heat rises, providing a back drop to their dance. And then there is the autumn dance, the dance of the leaves.
Dancing leaves, Pirouette, the wind blows.
Dancing leaves, Grand Pas, the wind blows.
Dancing leaves, Arabesque, the wind blows.
The wind blows, Cast a shadow.
The wind blows, Promenade.
The wind blows, Bells and Beaus.
Dancing leaves, explode the time, the wind blows.
Dancing leaves, the wind blows.
We try to match the steps, the rhythm, the music.
The wind blows the leaves dance.
Think of the last time you danced. Write a story about dancing. Write a story about life, the life in the dance. Imagine if you will what it would be like not to dance. Write of dancing.