You’ll be up on your feet after reading ‘And Then We Danced’

You can’t stop your feet.

They need to move, to tap-tap-tap, to side step, and do-si-do. The music’s on and you gotta move. You can’t help it, your toes gotta go and in “And Then We Danced” by Henry Alford, you take the lead.

Think of all the times you danced in your life.

Your first was likely some bouncy-toddler thing you did, and the adults around you laughed. Later, you endured embarrassing and awkward boy-girl classes, or school events until you became cool (even if only in your mind) and snuck into clubs. You’ve danced at weddings, for fun, for joy; and Alford has danced for work. He’s a journalist who immerses himself in his subject in order to write about it but, in the case of dance, he’s been immersed his whole life.

Dance, he says, is a “universal language.” If you suddenly found yourself in Siberia and you began dancing, nobody would mistake what you were doing. It’s an art, yes — but it’s so much more.

Dance, he says, is a way of “Social Entrée.” Cotillions and debutante balls are good examples, dancing in a club falls into this category, and if you ever took classes from an Arthur Murray studio, you get the picture.

Politics can step onto the dance floor, Alford says. Think about your favorite candidate on the campaign trail, dancing with potential constituents. Or think of the Cakewalk, a dance that was “Originally devised as a way for slaves to mock their masters…”

Teenagers know that dance can be a form of rebellion; icons such as Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham knew that, too. Dance can be a form of emotional release, happy, sad, or angry, and it can involve one’s entire body, almost without thought. Any good church choir can tell you that dance is spiritual. With the right group, it can bring on feelings of nostalgia. And dance, if you need it, can be healing.

There’re a few pleasant little surprises to this book about moving your body: it’s also author Henry Alford’s memoir, and it’s a series of mini-biographies of dancers you may know and admire. And it’s delightful.

Part of the reason is that Alford uses his youth as example here: he was a gawky kid who tried very hard to ignore his gayness, an attempt that made junior high boy-girl dances understandably more awkward. His tales are mostly universal (who didn’t hate forced dance class?) and they’ll make you laugh, while anecdotes of researching to write this book – Alford dives into dance, remember – are woven between the life stories of Murray, Duncan, Graham, Savion Glover, Toni Bentley, and other dancers, as well as lighter-side dance history through the ages.

Yes, there are “Awww, naw” moments along here with the Nae Nae, but the joy in this book supersedes any sadness. All in all, it’s a quickstepper, and for a hoofer, ballet lover, line dancer, or anyone who shimmies and bops, “And Then We Danced” will have you on your feet.

More in Life

Photos, maps, fun facts make this book addicting

You know? Of course you do, because you’re no dummy. You’re on… Continue reading

Auburn Symphony Orchestra Chamber Series comes to Kent, Auburn

Musicians to perform works by Beethoven, Britten and Loeffler

You’ll want to read ‘Dracul’ with the lights on

It was just a little scratch. You wouldn’t have even noticed it,… Continue reading

Kent-area community calendar | Oct. 18

Events Recycling Collection: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 20, Hogan Park, 24400 Russell… Continue reading

Trava Mayes, left, plays Mirabelle, and Anne Cameron is Bernice in Pamela Loyd’s “Lunch Ladies at L’ambrosia Luncheria,” on stage at the Kent Senior Activity Center this month. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter
Knot Quite Write Players present fall lineup

The Knot Quite Write Players (KQWP), the Kent Senior Activity Center’s Readers… Continue reading

‘November Road’ is the nail-biter you’ve been looking for

Catch me, if you can! And the chase began, one of you… Continue reading

‘A Healing Justice’ should be on your bookshelf

Your pup is a pretty respectable watch dog. If anyone merely considers… Continue reading

Look. Listen. Learn.

Puget Sound Fire celebrates Fire Prevention Week by holding a contest and creating two new forms of non-emergency contacts.

Mira Slovak driving the original Miss Wahoo unlimited hydroplane in 1957. COURTESY, Museum of Flight
Legendary pilot and hydroplane champ profiled in Oct. 13 lecture and book signing

‘A Race to Freedom: The Mira Slovak Story,’ plus Slovak hydroplane and stunt plane on view

Ryan Gosling plays astronaut Neil Armstrong in the film, “First Man.” COURTESY PHOTO
Museum of Flight hosts exclusive display of costumes and props from the new feature film

The Museum of Flight presents a special collection of costumes and properties… Continue reading

Country stars to perform Dec. 6 in Kent at Hometown Holiday concert

Combs, Morris, Ballerini, Brothers Osborne, Davis and Tenpenny