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

International Guitar Night set for March 1 in Kent

Top acoustic guitarists to perform

Michael Lim, concertmaster of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, makes his Auburn Symphony debut Sunday. COURTESY PHOTO, Michael Lim
ASO presents Brahms Sibelius, a romantic symphony concert this Valentine’s Day seekend

The Auburn Symphony Orchestra performs Brahms & Sibelius, a special Valentine’s Day… Continue reading

Scale model show takes mini to the max

NorthWest Scale Modelers exhibition to display hundreds of models at Museum of Flight

Search no more, you’ll want to read ‘Hero Dogs’

You felt like such a loser. It was a feeling that didn’t… Continue reading

Kentridge High 2018 yearbook receives national recognition

School earns innovation honor for annual’s cover

A book full of heart-pounding adventure, bravery, thrills and heroics

You never wanted to get caught. Wasn’t that the point of playing… Continue reading

You won’t be able to let ‘Maid’ go

That thing? You’re ready to let it go. It sparks joy, but… Continue reading

‘Talk to Me’ draws from real life

The view from above was stunning. The cliché says that people look… Continue reading

Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission exhibition

Tickets on sale for Museum of Flight’s major exhibition that celebrates the first lunar landing 50 years ago

Kent schools to receive donated musical instruments

Part of Music4Life program; booster club formed