"O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?"
- William Butler Yeats, "Among School Children"
I grew up taking ballet classes and performing in various productions around the Midlands. A bad injury - and frankly, a lack of professional talent - meant I stopped dancing. For years, the dance world haunted me. I went to a pre-professional arts high school, and though I was very happy in my creative writing program, I was envious of the dancers whose talent far exceeded my physical capabilities. It sunk in that, to paraphrase the author David Rakoff, I was someone who had danced, not a dancer.
However, as time wore on, I realized that my great love of watching dance hadn't been affected. I relished watching professional performances. Wherever I was, I made the effort to see what live performances I could - Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sara Mearns, and many others. And since 2020, I've sporadically taken streaming classes by Tiler Peck, the New York City Ballet principal dancer. The muscle memory is there, though my flexibility and quickness are lacking.
I’d like to think that dance can be enjoyed by everyone – whether you’re watching your own child participate in a dance recital or watching a professional ballet, or dancing in your own home or out with friends. Below, you’ll find a list of resources on dance – from modern stalwarts like the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, to older classics such as Swan Lake.