Sunday, May 02, 2010

Lorrie Moore - Dance in America

This post is not strictly on dance, but on fiction and American writer Lorrie Moore. Don't run away though! She wrote a short story a few years ago titled 'Dance in America'. I read it as part of her Collected Stories and then a few days ago I found it on a New Yorker podcast (scroll down until you find it. It was put up in April 2008).

The story is about a dancer who, towards the end of a 2-week stay as artist in residence in a school in Pennsylvania, visits an old friend from college who is married and has a young son, Eugene, with cystic fibrosis. Like great fiction, it's about much more than this, and Lorrie Moore is a great, particular, funny writer. Do read or listen to it. The first few words will ring a bell with all artists and dancers.

'I tell them dance begins when a moment of hurt combines with a moment of boredom. I tell them it's the body's reaching, bringing air to itself. I tell them that it's the heart's triumph, the victory speech of the feet, the refinement of animal lunge and flight, the purest metaphor of tribe and self. It's life flipping death the bird.
I make this stuff up. But then I feel the stray voltage of my rented charisma, hear the jerry-rigged authority in my voice, and I, too believe. I'm convinced. The troupe dismantled, the choreography commissions dwindling, my body harder to make limber, to make go, I have come for two weeks - to Pennsylvania Dutch country, as a "Dancer in the Schools".'

You can buy Lorrie Moore's Collected Stories or listen to a reading of Dance in America on the New Yorker website.