I am satisfied … I see, dance, laugh, sing.
– Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
I don’t chaperone dances at SLA.
One was enough for me.
The Monday after, I was still reeling from the spectacle of what I’d seen the Friday before.
These were my students. They were my charges – my brilliant angels. Well, maybe not. Still, I was responsible for helping them to realize the power of words, the diverse and divergent lineage of the world’s great thinkers.
What I witnessed on the dance floor, I could not rectify with the versions of my students I’d come to know.
I was expecting the awkward bumblings of the dances of my youth – the clumsy first drafts of the kinetic poetry dance can become.
I attempted to explain this to them. I accused them of not having any poetry in their souls. Their mouths hung agape at my ignorance.
Other teachers confirmed my it. This, I was assured, was how high schoolers danced. Post modernism had taken over even the poetry of dance.
I felt 100 years old.
Dance was always a million miles away from possible when I was growing up.
Those who could dance, like my best friend Travis, appeared to have some access to the mystical rhythm I was never meant to know.
Seriously, who teaches these things?
Much of my school dance biography tells the story of guard of the punch or the kid propping up the gymnasium wall.
This wasn’t how my people danced.
The dancing I was used to and which I was brought up on was kitchen dancing. While the spaghetti cooked or the meatloaf baked, we were kitchen dancers.
If the ideal of dancing, with the capital “D”, in my mind is the mobile version of Leaves of Grass, kitchen dancing is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man…scat version.
It is reckless abandon of invoking the joy of the day. There is hopping, and weaving and flailing of appendages. It’s not pretty, but it is beautiful.
If you ever visit, I’ll teach you.
The other night, in the midst of preparing dinner, I frightened my dog and commenced a kitchen dance solo.
The song was unimportant. My frenetic ballet was a reminder of what my day had brought me, the meal to come and the days to follow. It was nod to the excitement inherent in being alive. And, it was a check-in to see if I still had it. You have to keep in practice with these things.
Yeah, I’ve got moves.