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Friday, February 04, 2005


I went dancing Wednesday night. I had to; it was a visceral need. The thought of the gym was unbearably depressing, with its hamster wheels and fun-but-mediocre yoga classes, and anyway, I needed to break free from my deep winter rut. (I might sound melodramatic, but I often feel melodramatic at this time of year.)

So off I journeyed, by car and train, to the weekly barefoot dance event begun in the hippie days, where the music is great and the people are respectful and warm. None of that groping drunken nastiness you see in nightclubs here. The energy was high and the mood good; I had a fantastic time. It was revealing, maybe even a little inspiring, to watch how people dance. Some have no formal training, it's clear, and so they just move as their body tells them, free of the constraints that can be born of dance classes. I watched one middle-aged woman dance in teeny, tiny movements that would look strange except in deliberate Fosse choreography, and then they would be complemented with large, spread hands, but her hands were sort of fisted, very subtle. She repeated pretty much the same little movements all night, looking happy and serene. I watched a younger woman move, hips splaying everywhere, unfettered by the controlled range of motion of a trained dancer. (There's a certain freedom that comes from taking dance classes, too; the freedom that grows paradoxically from control, and the sense of learning the language of a style of dance.) And then I noticed a man I'd seen there the one time I'd been before, who liked to partner dance in a modern dance style, but this week he mostly squatted by the wall, sometimes stretching, but mostly observing; and another man who sat in front of the candles in the center of the room and just sort of meditated, and I came to understand that stillness is a kind of motion, a kind of dance, too.


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