Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Smile. You're dancing.

by Juliet

As far as my memory serves (and since I'm too lazy to look it up, my flawed memory will have to serve) humans are the only creature that dances.

Oh sure, ants and bees have “dances” that they use to communicate to their brethren where to find honey-filled flowers, or a pungent carcass. Many mammals indulge in interesting mating boogies, and birds often strut their stuff while singing, rather like they’re putting on a show.

But moving one’s body for no reason related to food or reproduction…that’s a human thing.

(Not that dancing’s not related to sex-- after all, there’s a whole lot of courtship going on out on the average dance floor. In fact, in more genteel times, dancing was about as close as most couples got to having sex, and it’s clear why every elder generation is afraid that the young people’s dances lead to nothing but smut and ruination – seen teenagers dirty dancing lately? My lord in heaven…*waves hands over face*)

It has something to do with the ability to really enjoy music, obviously. It’s the rare human who has never been transported by music, at one point or another. The right music can speak to our souls, bypassing the intellect and moving right on into one’s gut. When music speaks to your heart, it’s magic. And then letting that magic travel right one out through one’s appendages in dance…well, that can be nirvana.
{at left, a Halloween dance. Yes, I'm the Pen who gives dance parties...}

Let me be clear: I’m not any good at it. Not ANY good at it. Especially if there are actual steps involved, in which case I get caught up in trying to figure out which way my foot’s supposed to be landing, and I forget to hear the music, and can’t remember how to respond, and I feel like a fool.

But whenever I fear looking ridiculous I remember a sultry night in Spain, many many years ago. I sat in a humble little plaza, watching as a group of migrant workers on their way back to Andalusia sang a flamenco tune. A few young men tapped out a beat on the stone benches, others called out and laughed, and an old woman got up. I’m talking OLD, wrinkled and stooped. She started to dance, to sway, holding her arms over her head, snapping her fingers and stomping.

Even I could see that she wasn’t much good –she was off-beat and rather clumsy. But she smiled as she turned, her black skirt swishing around her legs, her body swaying with abandon, and every young person in that crowd cheered her on.

So forget the steps. The self-consciousness. Let the music into your heart, and let yourself sway. Throw in a gyration or two. Stomp your feet. Lift your arms up. Close your eyes.

Smile. You’re dancing.


Rachael Herron said...

This just transported me. Gorgeous.

Mysti said...

Will be smiling all day now, looking forward to being the old lady in the square!

Did they ever figure out if whales & dolphins are dancing or just getting rid of barnacles when they move that way that would be dance if they had legs and the ocean was a plaza?

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