I have a confession to make: I like dancing.
Or at least I like the idea of it, since I’m not sure I’m the kind of guy who should be dancing very often. But ever since hearing Strauss’ Blue Danube waltz in 2001: A Space Odyssey as a child, waltzes, minuets, mazurkas etc. have held a certain sway over me (which is also perhaps why I struggle with rhythmically mushy composers like Wagner). Waltzing with a lovely lady is something of a secret fantasy of mine.
I just finished watching the DVD of the Royal Ballet’s 2007 production of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. Although I’ve almost always enjoyed ballet music, I’ve never actually bothered to watch an actual ballet until now (well, a ballet that wasn’t in a Powell & Pressburger film at least). It’s a beautiful performance, and makes me wonder why I put them off for so long. And I don’t care if you think Tchaikovsky is middle-brow stuff. 1812 Overture aside, his music is one of the best instances of popular appeal and good taste coming together.
It also led me to think that dancing is one of those art forms which, in modern times, has largely gone down the drain. I mean, flailing your body around in joy is a pretty primal thing, and it only becomes culturally interesting when it gets sublimated into a more rarefied form. But so much of modern pop music is only up to the task of pushing dance into the other direction – making it into a sort of sub-Dionysian catharsis which is either silly or directly feeding our baser natures. I enjoy the odd piece of music from the usually arid wasteland of hip hop, but the fact that you can’t really dance to the music without a lot of bumping and grinding gives me pause.
In my more heathenish days, I did waste some time and money in the club scene, since that was what everyone seemed to expect of me. But even then I could never bring myself to actually enjoy it. All the blistering techno beats just seemed to be beating me into a drunken submission.
Final dancing confession of the evening: In a high school drama class yours truly was given an assignment which involved choreographing and participating in a dance to Michael Jackson’s Beat It. Thankfully no visual record of this event survives (to my knowledge).