Anybody can Dance, Even Those Who Do It Weirdly

Midhun Antony claims anybody can dance. I have always thought of myself as living proof that even if every single other living creature on the planet can do it, there’s still One Who Can’t. It’s not a point of pride with me; just what I think of as an uninspiring factoid.

But he’s right. It’s unfair, despite my belief I’m being honest in claiming to be a fairly awful dancer, to say that I can’t. Even if my goal is to impress anyone, rather than merely to enjoy the activity for itself, or to express joy—surely among the highest and best reasons to dance, really—can I truthfully claim that a bad dancer is no dancer? How many times have I enjoyed, along with my much-better-dancing friends, the vision of an uninhibited exhibition of movement-to-music by a truly unskilled practitioner? The littlest of children, even those not yet able to stand without support, dance and fearlessly. That is the point! It’s not about skill and coordination or style points, or ballroom etiquette, the vast majority of the time; it’s about happiness and commitment.

A little bonus exercise is not to be sniffed at, either, I should be the first to confess.

If I’m truly so self-absorbed as to think that my dancing should be of any interest to anyone in the room but me or—given the right circumstances—any other person I am dancing to please, at the very least I should keep in mind that letting down my guard so others can have a good healthy laugh at my expense would be a tremendous gift. Some of the best moments ever recorded on film are not only those shared by the Nicholas Brothers or Rogers and Astaire, Alvin Ailey or Mikhail Baryshnikov or Judith Jamison, but also the high and low comedic gifts of attempted dance we also remember with intense fondness. Elaine Benes, I salute you! Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze, I curtsey in awe. I fall down while curtseying, of course, but I do admire your work. In fact, I’ll hazard a little wiggle of sheer glee right now, just because you all make me so happy.Digital illo: Nerdy Dancing

Unnaturally Lightfooted

We’ve long since established that I can’t dance. I couldn’t dance well enough to stay in a second-grade dance class; heck, I couldn’t even be trusted to remember whether we were supposed to show up wearing tights with our tutus or not, for the class picture before the big recital. Though it’s only fair to give myself credit for having been obsessed with the ugliness of our getups to such an extent that I forgot the part about the stockings, and I promise you, they were hideous costumes.

But you also know that I am enamored of beautiful dancing of nearly any kind, if allowed to watch it from a safe distance. So I think I can be forgiven for letting others take to the floor in real life and only doing so in my imagination and, occasionally, in my poems. I think any creature, real or imagined, that can dance beautifully deserves my attention and admiration (as long as it wears the correct tights with its tutu).Graphite drawing: Swinging Dragonflies

 

Text: Waltzing

Persimmon Persimmon Persimmon

digital illustration

[To my readers who are better educated than I am : Please pardon my humble attempt at kanji. It’s well-intentioned!]

Some words are more delicious than others. It’s not simply that they represent something actually tasty, an edible something full of juice and jazz; the mere sound, even the thought, of these words just leaps up and dances and smacks you in the chops with irrepressible mirth.

I’m not terribly familiar with persimmons as food like those who grew up in its primary regions of growth, but Persimmon bounces as a word. I can’t really imagine a way in which that fruit could have much credibility as a subject for a tragic song, having such a sunny sound. Is it even possible to write a sad story about bananas, other than the gradual present decline of the world’s banana crops? Simply thinking the word Banana makes the corners of my mouth curve up in a silly parody of the fruit. It’s not hard to be Flabbergasted or Gobsmacked by any number of things in this day and age, but would I opt to describe myself with those words rather than Stunned or Mortified if I want a sympathetic audience? Could a pair of Galoshes or Gumboots with my Bumbershoot ever be as sober and somber as Wellingtons?

As anyone who writes with purpose knows, the choice of words is not always easy or obvious in crafting the proper atmosphere. But when the opportunity arises for play, why then there are a whole lovely mess of cantankerous and giggly, hyperbolic and incorrigible and snappy word delights just lying around in dusty corners waiting to be picked up and tickled back into action and it would be a pity to just say what is expected when we can chuckle out slobbery and salacious words that will startle readers right down to their anklebones. Great if I can feel a bit outlandish while thinking and writing it; better yet if someone reading what I wrote can garner a sense of the same otherworldliness too. Go ahead and bite.

The Fantastical & the Fleeting

Stuff is ephemeral; imagination is what endures.graphite drawingReal life has enough elements of adventure, romance and mystery to sustain us–indeed, to astonish and entertain quite endlessly–but if we don’t record and celebrate such magic parts of our history they are lost. If we fail to study our chronicles and journals of such marvels, they are but dust.

So the sages among us keep what documents they can and teach us as much as we’re able to learn. What, though, becomes of all this if we are ourselves not so sage? Those of us for whom history is mostly data, steeped and stopped in the past, rely on fantasy to renew in us a sense of the remarkable. The fictional, metaphorical and colorful characters, creatures and cataclysmic events we create in our arts give us vehicles for understanding the true mystical powers in our real lives. Types and archetypes remain because they represent not Things so much as Experiences, not acquisitions but states of being. Through these avatars and our vicarious living of all the extremes that we can imagine, we revisit–and can even revere–the lives that have gone before us.

Through these imaginings, we are best moved to become greater than our small natural selves. In our better selves we have hope of living out lives that might, in turn, outlive us to inspire later generations to dream beyond, to imagine greatness and loveliness not yet known. Dream on, my friends, dream on.

A Whisper in Your Ear, My Dear

graphite drawingFriendly Advice to a Feckless Youth

The true Reckless Endangerment

is seldom what you’d guess:

not often quite so obvious

as acting under stress,

thus putting others in harm’s way

for physical duress;

more likely, it’s just saying things

much better left unsaid

about your girlfriend’s hairstyle, or

about great-uncle Fred,

who is your mother’s richest

relative and, shortly, dead.

It’s bad enough your note on Fred

will cut Mom from his will,

and likely keep you from her own

good graces longer still,

but there’s your girlfriend left to calm.

Let’s hope the bitter pill

of your ill-thought hairstyle remark

won’t make her wish you ill.graphite drawingWhen Ladies are Dancing

Patterns of elegance, synchronized moves,

Footsteps as fluid as flowing in grooves

Down sides of a fountain afloat with champagne,

They leap and they glide and they dance the refrain

As though they were ageless and weightless as light,

Each gesture, each pattern, each detail so right,

So proper and grace-filled, expressive of joy—

Intimidate wholly the poor sidelined boy!

Interludes: Songs for Dancing

digital painting from a photoSounding

In the hands of a master

The melody played so sweetly runs

Like a playful rivulet down the hall

Spilling an invitation to

Light-footed dancing, to

Birds chittering along, to light

Flickering between the window blinds

To call all of us down the passage

To bathe in its cool musicdigital painting from a photo

All our Loves

All our friends are singing

In the chorus on a Saturday

And though I know they will be fine

And sing it well, I have to say

That hearing all our friends ring out

In chorus is more complex still

Than polyphonic harmonies

And counterpoint, and what we will

Be loving best and savoring

On the occasion, likely, is

The sheer delight of soaking in

That all these loves are mine and his