japonisme: waltz, tango, quickstep, rumba, cha-cha, mambo, samba, swing

15 October 2009

waltz, tango, quickstep, rumba, cha-cha, mambo, samba, swing

...The only change in the creative process I've seen with the dance poems comes with the luxury of writing within a framework -- each dance has a distinct feel, an embedded cadence that will suggest a certain shape or silhouette on the page.... "Fox Trot Fridays" was the first in the group; it wrote itself rather quickly.

After that felicitous birth, I imagined writing a poem about each type of ballroom dance -- waltz, tango, quickstep, rumba, cha-cha, mambo, samba, swing, even paso doble. And then, of course, I couldn't write a word, because I was trying to write about dance, not get inside the dance.

When I began to appreciate the technical intricacies of each style -- not just the pattern "quick- quick with a / heel-ball-toe" but the rise upon tiptoe that occurs between the slow count and the first quick in fox-trot, for example, or the gradual lowering from tiptoe that one executes in the second half of the third beat in the waltz -- only then did "American Smooth" [her most recent book] start to shimmer into being.

My scaffolding was to provide a humble description of the dance technique -- what each part of the body should be doing, measured out precisely, without emotion -- in the hopes of finding the poem's true desire, to achieve flight of consciousness, a lifting of the spirit as well as of the human form. 1


(after Anthony 'Spoons' Plough)

I learned the spoons from
my grandfather, who was blind.

Every day he'd go into the woods
'cause that was his thing.
He met all kinds of creatures,
birds and squirrels,
and while he was feeding them
he'd play the spoons,
and after they finished
they'd stay and listen.

When I go into Philly
on a Saturday night,
I don't need nothing but
my spoons and the music.
Laid out on my knees
they look so quiet,
but when I pick them up
I can play to anything:
a dripping faucet,
a tambourine,
fish shining in a creek.

A funny thing:
When my grandfather died,
every creature sang.
And when the men went out
to get him, they kept singing.
They sung for two days,
all the birds, all the animals.
That's when I left the South.

Rita Dove

© 1999 Rita Dove from On the Bus With Rosa Parks pub Norton

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Blogger Princess Haiku said...

This video caught me by surprise. Art is usually so serious about itself. Something different for me. Thanks, Lotusgreen

18 October, 2009 17:15  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh i am so glad, princess--in a way, that's the best possible thing you could say!

20 October, 2009 11:39  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

and... come to think of it... is one of the main reasons i started my magazine lo these many years ago

20 October, 2009 11:41  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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