The way dancers tell stories

Sunday, October 30, 2011

We escaped the snow and headed for the city, where our friends Julia and Gene were celebrating their 70th birthdays in classic (elegant) Julia and Gene style.  She hails from the United Kingdom, he from the midwest.  She's a sprite of a thing; he tips his head, ever so slightly, to pass through doorways.  She's a sociologist and he's a statistician.  Together they remind those of us lucky enough to know them that love is not a formula.  It is what happens in the blink of an eye (they knew at once, they say of each other).  It is what endures.

At this party of friends, family, colleagues, we sat among dancers.  Jan, Lana, Scott, Tirsa, John, Inna, and Julia herself (Miss Cristina was also among us, looking lovely), to be precise.  We were privileged amateurs among impeccably attired super stars (and I do not exaggerate; Jan and Lana will soon be appearing in a major movie alongside actors such as Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper; Scott was once the nation's mambo champion).  We were also quite simply friends among friends.

What perpetually interests me about dancers is how smart they are, how diversified their interests, how capable of telling stories with far more than words. That angling of a shoulder speaks volumes, for example, as does the slight, purposeful turn of the head.  Jan raises his eyebrow, and his opinion is known.  Lana reports on science with the blue light of her eyes.  John brings mischief to his laugh; there is an emphatic grace in Inna's hands; Tirsa moves her wrist and her whole arm sparkles; Cristina is perpetually, stunningly alive; and there's that thing Scott does when he's telling a story, which is to lean in and then lean back, wait for the pulse.  Dancers hardly need words at all when they are telling their stories. 

When it was time to dance, we danced, easy with the songs that Julia and Gene had chosen on a ballroom floor laid for our feet. The rumba, the cha-cha, the salsa, the foxtrot, the bolero, the waltz, back to the foxtrot.  Those dancers know how to move, and they swept us into their graces, and later, around midnight, when we walked the streets of Philadelphia at their side (among Halloween ghouls and ghosts and vampires), I thought of how it must be to move through the world like that—so full of sway and suggestible spine. 

My husband and I woke in a room downtown this morning, headed to the Reading Market for breakfast, went up to the Art Museum and walked our favorite wing. I took a photograph, then, of this Renoir painting, because this gorgeous child is not speaking, not a word, and yet she's full of story.  Julia and Gene, thank you for giving us such a rich and memorable evening on a weekend of historic weather.  We will remember it always with fondness.


Serena said...

Love the close up of this Renoir. I've always loved that painting

Lilian Nattel said...

Beautiful painting, wonderful weekend.

Melissa Sarno said...

I'm glad you were able to have such a beautiful weekend. Work hard. Play harder. You always send my brain into overdrive. I am thinking I have to describe the way characters really move and have those movements tell their own story. Hmm.

Brenda said...

I love your blog posts. always so thoughtful and interesting. I love Renoir too. It gave me a good idea for a story.

Inspiration is everywhere.

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