Archives for posts with tag: Dancing

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The Dance Arrives at Stevenson High School
by Virginia Chase Sutton

My feet flash across the stage. I am twenty-one
and I love the tap-tap-tap-tap as in my head I
automatically repeat shuffle-ball-change,

shuffle-ball-change. I am dressed like a Vegas
showgirl–a sequined and feathered headdress
pinned into my upswept brown hair. My right hand

brushes the right shoulder of the woman ahead of me
as we dance. And our costume is spectacular!
A one-piece bathing-suit style, shimmering white

fabric layered in shivering black sequins, the
bosom encrusted with crystals. The entire back
is black with bands of sparkle. O, how I shine.

In full-dress make-up, my rouged lips and cheeks
are o-so-kissable. And my eyes with jeweled lashes
are visible even to the last row of the auditorium.

On my feet, classic black patent leather tap shoes
tied up with black ribbon. Underneath are silver
taps making the impossible possible. We slowly

move from stage left to stage right in a straight
line, three women ahead of me and seventeen
behind. The row heads behind heavy red velvet

curtains, music blaring, taps amplified. So practiced
are we that it is just a moment before we turn in unison,
head back out. Then we pause, tap-tap our way towards

the audience. We are doing the Rockettes proud. As one,
we bow, link arms and do high kicks as our big finish,
legs bending, thrust out, bending, repeating our way

into near breathlessness. We gleam, we are glory.
Unflappable we turn and leave the way we arrive,
the woman behind me skimming my translucent skin. Our

costumes are bright bites of breathtaking dazzle as we dissolve
into the wings. Curtains swish shut and applause roars. Opening
again, we each gracefully hold a sheaf of multi-colored roses.

We bow right, left, center. The crowd whistles, jumps to
their feet. I am collecting admirers, I know it, in this deluge
of sweetness, sparking rhinestones, the heat of heavy tap shoes.

PHOTO: Opening night of the Casino de Paris show at the Dunes, Las Vegas (1963).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Virginia Chase Sutton
’s third book of poems, Of a Transient Nature, was just published by Knut House Press. Her second book of poems, What Brings You to Del Amo, won the Morse Poetry Prize and was published by the University Press of New England. Her first book of poems was Embellishments (Chatoyant). Her poems have won the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry at Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, and they have appeared in the Paris Review, Ploughshares, Quarterly West, among other magazines, journals, and anthologies. She lives in Tempe, Arizona. She was once a very bad student at The Barbara Adkins School for Dance, located in a basement in the Chicago suburbs.

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Dream Dancing
by Linda McKenney

I’m best in the car. When using cruise control, I dance. My feet are tapping away to a jazzy piece of music. But put me in front of an audience, and I’m a failure. My mother was a dancer and used to tap dance in the kitchen while we were having breakfast. I pretended that she was annoying, but secretly I wished I could do that too.

I’ve auditioned for musical plays and, well it’s a dance shame. We line up in several rows and given dance steps. First step — not too bad. Second — I’m still in the game. By the third, and repeating them in sequence — I’m crashing into other dancers or they’re stepping on me.   I always place myself in the back row hoping the director will not see me. Unfortunately, he rotates rows and when I’m in front — I’m done.

Once, at a formal party, a coworker asked me to dance. This is another area, where I do not do so well. Following a confident, thinks-he-knows-what-he’s-doing partner is unnerving for me. When he told me he was going to dip me, I begged him not to. He ignored my plea, and proceded to drop me on the dance floor. Now I suffer from PTSD – Positively Terrified Shamed Dancer.

I still fantasize at times, about jumping up and dancing on a table in a restaurant, as if I’m in a Fred Astaire movie, but I’m sure I’d fall off. And at my age, jumping up on anything is unlikely.

So I will never be a Martha Graham or Ginger Rogers, but I will continue to groove to the music in whatever way I can. I’ll wobble onto the dance floor with my walker someday and wiggle my hips (they’ll still be in good shape because they’re titanium).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me at an early age just wishing I could walk, let alone dance.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda McKenney is a Personal Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Writer, specializing in Mindful Living and Eating. Her creative nonfiction is published in Silver Birch Press, 101 Word Short Stories, The Survivor’s Review and Helen: A Literary Magazine.  She also has an alter ego at Susanbanthony.liveShe continues to dream about dancing because, after all, life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

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EVERY DAY WE ARE DANCERS
by Mitch Roberson

It begins with the lewd macarena
each of us performs in the shower,
then the modified twist we are hip to
with that ever-absorbent partner, the towel,

and on to the funky chicken of stepping into underwear,
the shimmy of stretching into hose.
There is no music, none that anyone
can hear, yet no one can escape the boogie.

Outside beneath the disco ball of the Sun
no one is a wallflower, not even the two lugs
in the crosswalk lugging a huge mirror,
one at either end pressing his cheek

into the cheek of his own reflection, arm
extended, hand clasping his own hand in a tango
more about control than passion, one couple
leading himself forward, the other slide-stepping

backwards across the intersection made double
by the infinite burden they shoulder together.
At the entrances of buildings even those afflicted
with two left feet find grace with a stranger

in a revolving door, where, regardless of gender,
we share a pause and glance to communicate
who will lead, who will follow,
close to each other but never quite touching.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mitch Roberson majored in English and political science at the University of Tennessee and holds an MFA from Vermont College.

SOURCE: Poetry (February 2003)

IMAGE: “Icarus,” by Henri Matisse (1944)

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THE EMPTY DANCE SHOES
by Cornelius Eady

My friends,
As it has been proven in the laboratory,
An empty pair of dance shoes
Will sit on the floor like a wart
Until it is given a reason to move.

Those of us who study inertia
(Those of us covered with wild hair and sleep)
Can state this without fear:
The energy in a pair of shoes at rest
Is about the same as that of a clown

Knocked flat by a sandbag.
This you can tell your friends with certainty:
A clown, flat on his back,
Is a lot like an empty pair of
dancing shoes.

An empty pair of dancing shoes
Is also a lot like a leaf
Pressed in a book.
And now you know a simple truth:
A leaf pressed in, say, The Colossus
by Sylvia Plath,
Is no different from an empty pair of dance shoes

Even if those shoes are in the middle of the Stardust Ballroom
With all the lights on, and hot music shakes the windows
up and down the block.
This is the secret of inertia:
The shoes run on their own sense of the world.
They are in sympathy with the rock the kid skips
over the lake
After it settles to the mud.
Not with the ripples,
But with the rock.

A practical and personal application of inertia
Can be found in the question:
Whose Turn Is It
To Take Out The Garbage?
An empty pair of dance shoes
Is a lot like the answer to this question,
As well as book-length poems
Set in the Midwest.

To sum up:
An empty pair of dance shoes
Is a lot like the sand the 98-pound weakling
brushes from his cheeks
As the bully tows away his girlfriend.
Later,

When he spies the coupon at the back of the comic book,
He is about to act upon a different set of scientific principles.
He is ready to dance.

SOURCE: “The Empty Dance Shoes” appears in Cornelius Eady’s collection Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1997), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Dance” by John Crothers. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet and cofounder of Cave Canem, Cornelius Eady has published more than half a dozen volumes of poetry, among them Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (1985), winner of the Lamont Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets; The Gathering of My Name (1991), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; and Brutal Imagination (2001), a National Book Award finalist. Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems appeared in 2008.

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AMERICAN SMOOTH
by Rita Dove

We were dancing—it must have
been a foxtrot or a waltz,
something romantic but
requiring restraint,
rise and fall, precise
execution as we moved
into the next song without
stopping, two chests heaving
above a seven-league
stride—such perfect agony,
one learns to smile through,
ecstatic mimicry
being the sine qua non
of American Smooth.
And because I was distracted
by the effort of
keeping my frame
(the leftward lean, head turned
just enough to gaze out
past your ear and always
smiling, smiling),
I didn’t notice
how still you’d become until
we had done it
(for two measures?
four?)—achieved flight,
that swift and serene
magnificence,
before the earth
remembered who we were
and brought us down.

SOURCE: “American Smooth” appears in Rita Dove’s collection American Smooth (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2004), available at Amazon.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Dove made her formal literary debut in 1980 with the poetry collection The Yellow House on the Corner, In works like the verse-novel Thomas and Beulah (1986), which won the Pulitzer Prize, On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Sonata Mulattica (2009), Dove treats historical events with a personal touch. In addition to poetry, Dove has published works of fiction, including the short story collection Fifth Sunday (1990) and the novel Through the Ivory Gate (1992). Her play The Darker Face of the Earth (1996) was produced at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Dove is also an acclaimed lyricist, and has written lyrics for composers ranging from Tania León to John Williams. Dove was named US Poet Laureate in 1993, the youngest poet ever elected to the position. Dove has continued to play an important role in the reception of American poetry through her work as editor of the Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry (2011). She is currently Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

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LOCOMOTION
by Philip Bryant

I heard the
locomotion behind
the album by Monk my father
was playing.
The finely tuned
machine humming like
a top, purring like a kitten.
 
The first time I
saw the Santa Fe “Super Chief”
at Union Station in Chicago,
gleaming as a silver bullet
carrying the blue uniformed
conductor who gave a low whistle
and “All Aboard” for places as far away as Kansas,
Laredo, Tucson, Las Vegas, Palm Springs.
 
At that point
I knew it all had
something to do with jazz music.
The slow hiss of
the engine, the steam
let out by the jowls of the locomotive,
and the massive, muscular wheels turning
slowly counterclockwise to the engine’s beat
 
Come on Baby Do the Locomotion
Come on Baby Do the Locomotion With Me
 
heading out onto the open tracks,
that smoke-blown phrase repeated
over and over in my head through the years,
as miles of the real American landscape
began, slowly, to unfold.

Photo: ”Santa Fe Super Chief at Chicago’s Dearborn Station”  (closed in 1971) by Harold A. Edmonson, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Music mentioned “Locomotive” by Philip Bryant: “Locomotive” byThelonius Monk – from his album Straight, No Chaster (1967) – listen to “Locomotive” here“The Loco-Motion” (1962) written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King led to a dance craze of the same name — watch Little Eva perform “The Loco-Motion” at this link.

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The United Kingdom celebrated its National Poetry Day on Thursday, October 4, 2012. This years’s theme — STARS! Congratulations to Joan Jobe Smith who was a featured poet in the event with her poem “Dancing in a River of Stars.” Yesterday, the poem was published in a leading British newspaper. Find the link here — or read the poem below.

DANCING IN A RIVER OF STARS

Poem by Joan Jobe Smith

They sang in those days, no
stereo CDs MTV everywhere
boom box ear-plugged joggers
fast fingered bloggers blast-zinging
twitter all over the place
they’d sing
my mother sang while cooking
supper, doing dishes Amapola
my pretty little poppy moonlight
becomes you it goes with your
stardust hair
my father driving his car
over the Golden Gate Bridge sang
San Francisco open your golden gate
that old black magic that you weave so
well under my skin California here
we come and sometimes they’d sing
duet cheek to cheek deep in the
heart of me as they waltzed across
the living room, danced the fox trot
barefoot, the rug rolled back, lights
down low, Artie Shaw shadow clarinet
crooning behind their backs dancing

dancing in the dark
near an endless river of stars.

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LOCOMOTION

Poem by Philip Bryant

I heard the
locomotion behind
the album by Monk my father
was playing.
The finely tuned
machine humming like
a top, purring like a kitten.
 
The first time I
saw the Santa Fe “Super Chief”
at Union Station in Chicago,
gleaming as a silver bullet
carrying the blue uniformed
conductor who gave a low whistle
and “All Aboard” for places as far away as Kansas,
Laredo, Tucson, Las Vegas, Palm Springs.
 
At that point
I knew it all had
something to do with jazz music.
The slow hiss of
the engine, the steam
let out by the jowls of the locomotive,
and the massive, muscular wheels turning
slowly counterclockwise to the engine’s beat
 
Come on Baby Do the Locomotion
Come on Baby Do the Locomotion With Me
 
heading out onto the open tracks,
that smoke-blown phrase repeated
over and over in my head through the years,
as miles of the real American landscape
began, slowly, to unfold.

Photo: “Santa Fe Super Chief at Chicago’s Dearborn Station”  (closed in 1971) by Harold A. Edmonson, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Music mentioned “Locomotive” by Philip Bryant: “Locomotive” by Thelonius Monk — from his album Straight, No Chaster (1967) — listen to “Locomotive” here. “The Loco-Motion” (1962) written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King led to a dance craze of the same name — watch Little Eva perform “The Loco-Motion” at this link.

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Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
by Joan Jobe Smith

It’s hard to believe today how bellybuttons
once drove men crazy in 1965, bellybuttons
the raison d’être, Original Sin of go-go bars
when French bikinis were still banned on
California state beaches and American tv
and I wouldn’t wear a bikini at first, I just
wore leotards or costumes showing just a bit
of midriff, the go-go bar owners not caring,
a shy new go-go girl gave the place class, but it
drove the guys crazy, one guy one day offering me
$20 to show him my bellybutton and I told him
No, I don’t have one, but he didn’t believe me.
I’m a Martian, I told him, but he didn’t believe
that either, he just got drunker and drunker
and yelled at me all afternoon, Hey, Baby,
lemme see yer bellybutton Baby but I kept on saying
No.
It’s all so silly nowadays.
I sure could’ve used that $20 back then in 1965.
I still could.

SOURCE: This poem appears in Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art, His Women (&me), by Joan Jobe Smith, available at Amazon.com.

Photo: Joan Jobe Smith, 1969, The Playgirl Club, Garden Grove, California