To Dance

Dance is the first language I ever wanted to learn—to be able to communicate with motion. I envied those who were fluent, those whose bodies could articulate every emotion and perfectly pronounce the rhythm of any song.

I was a little girl who wanted to dance. I aspired to be a ballerina in Brooklyn—a section of The City that was not infamous because it was replete with classical music. I didn’t consider the improbability of my dream. I just knew that if a song spoke to me, I wanted to be able to respond with my body. I yearned to be graceful and powerful and fluid in moving.

Now I enjoy dancing privately and observing dance publically. It is a privilege to be in the audience of greatness. To sit still (or sway a little) and let a performance move me. I go to dance for inspiration, joy, and meaning.

Alvin Ailey is by far my favorite dance company. Each performance I watch, I watch in awe as their bodies’ movements defy what little I know of physics and anatomy. If I had the talent to support the dream, my dream would be to dance as part of Ailey—to move across the world via the stage to emote with my body.

What Alvin Ailey dancers are able to do as mere mortals is artistically magical. These grand masters of movement understand the language of dance—it’s many moods, tenses, and dialects. They know how to transcribe and translate it—how to define and defy dance’s limits. They touch on the future, the present, and the nostalgic. They remind me of why dance is such a powerful form of communication.

I wish I had the language to do it justice, but words cannot contain the dimensions and dynamism of dance—how it can be so grueling to execute and yet so easy to understand. It is both simple and complex. For to dance is to dance is to dance.

Once upon a time I was a little girl in Brooklyn who wanted to be a ballerina.

Once upon a time I was a little girl in Brooklyn who wanted to be a ballerina.

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