June 29

That’s What Happens With Dancing


That’s What Happens With Dancing

by Jennifer Pollard, MSW

The best things happen while you’re dancing, Things you would not do at home, Come naturally on the floor, For dancing soon becomes romancing, When you hold a girl in your arms, That you’ve never held before, Even guys with two left feet, Come out all right if the girl is sweet,  If by chance their cheeks should meet while dancing, Proving that the best things happen while you dance -Irving Berlin White Christmas, 1942

An image of the “good old days” that brings a sting of jealousy to me is dancing. Parties and nights on the town when everyone had a dance card and a dress that hung perfectly as you glided across the floor in the arms of your beau sounds ideal. Even though my generation doesn’t have these kind of memories, I love hearing the stories from my clients of their nights of dancing.

I’m mesmerized by the movie scenes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as they danced in “Swing Time,” “Shall We Dance,” “Follow the Fleet,” “Top Hat,” “The Gay Divorcee” and “Roberta” – just to name a few. And who can forget the role a dance scene adds to the dynamic of romance. I think of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in “Sound of Music,” dancing a traditional Austrian dance and the way they looked at each other. Or in “Easter Parade” when Fred Astaire takes on a young protégé, Judy Garland, and they dance for the first time. Magic! That’s what happens with dancing.

Alice Barker, a 102-year-old former Apollo and Cotton Club dancer, had never seen film footage of herself dancing. She resides in a nursing home in Brooklyn and a young film student, volunteer found videos to show her. The video of Barker seeing the reels of herself dancing made the national evening news and even went viral on Facebook. She became animated and started tapping her fingers and recounted stories of the various films she was in and the iconic stars she met.

“I used to often say to myself, I am being paid to do something that I enjoy doing, and I would do it for free,” she said. “Because it just felt so good doing it. Because that music, you know, I just get carried away in it.” Dancing has a visceral connection. The music starts and the feet want to move. And if there is a dance partner, even better! What are your stories of dancing? Do you have fond memories of dancing the night away with the love of your life? And maybe it’s not too late to start dancing!

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