The Athletic and Artistic Dancer

Dancing is the ideal mix of the athletic and the artistic. You have to be physically fit to be a great dancer; you also have to have something of the artist’s spontaneity and creativity. Physical prowess without an untamed and unlearned originality will get you nowhere. The dancer must surprise himself as he goes along, even more so than whoever is watching. Too much dancing is done specifically for an audience. This cannot be with the athletic and artistic dancer. He must dance for the pure joy of it.

I say unlearned, this is true. You can learn choreographed dancing, Irish dancing, swing dancing. But the kind of dancing I’m talking about is impossible to practice. Iverson’s rant would make complete sense concerning this dancing. Perfect strangers will approach you with money when you dance like this, as well as other propositions. Accepting money is out of the question. You dance the way you do because you cannot do otherwise, you dance for the internal reward, for the harmony you feel with the musicians on stage, with your own true nature, and with theirs. With nature itself, no wall between yours and theirs. Let the others stand, beer in hand, tapping their feet, afraid to let loose, afraid to look like a fool. You are expressing their nature for them. This is your glorious burden.

Often the athletic and artistic dancer will not appear to be a people person. Not true but no matter. In conversation he may appear uninterested and uninteresting, perhaps shy, taciturn. You may even observe a certain arrogance and haughtiness, he may not deign to speak more than a few mumbled words in response to questions about future plans.

Truth is, there is no one who is more of a people person than the athletic/artistic dancer. He is a lover of people, not as they are, but as they could be, as they seem to him when he is away, alone and walking down the road. An inhibited man in company, alone his thoughts are free to roam, footloose as his feet when he dances. And why should he need company? He thinks of past friends and lovers, thoughts blend together. What has he imagined and what has actually happened? Did he ever know them at all? Did they ever know him, fully? No, none know him as he is; he wanders alone. He meets strangers and leaves them behind. The truth comes out when he dances, but then there is no ‘he.’ No ‘I.’

Why should someone who has so often experienced the soaring heights of untrammeled ecstasy have anything to say about future plans? Better to dance than speak. Better to move than stay stuck in a lackluster groove. The athletic/artistic dancer may have no career, he may be a rover, wandering from town to town, concert to concert, following his roots, ahead of the rust. The future? Tonight, dance; tomorrow, walk on, humming some song invented as he goes along, left thumb out, right hand in his pocket, without cares or baggage, full of tender love without object or envy.

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