Sunday, September 8, 2013

Invitation to the Dance

On the bus the other day a new friend described to me watching a young wheelchair-bound woman dance.  It is what the young woman always wanted to do and there she was, doing it with every available part of her body and, more important, of her soul.

In a recent edition of The NYTimes was the description by a music critic of a class in Baroque dance which she took so as to better inform her ear about Baroque rhythms.  It struck me as bizarre.

What is real about any dance?

When I was 10 my sister took me to see a ballet performance in which mazurkas were danced.  Though in 3/4 time, they corresponded to nothing I had ever experienced in or about that meter.  They haunted me all my musical life.

I used to go to weekly meetings of the Country Dance and Song Society in which we danced English Country Dances always to live music.  It had to be live because it had to be lively, i.e., variable, as only live music can be.  It was an incredible lesson in The Dance.  I was remembering Phillip Merrill this morning, the master concertina player who taught that lesson.  (I understand that he had been Yo-Yo Ma's school dancing instructor.)