It all began with a writing assignment for The New York Times on the topic of Zumba ... Alford was so hooked that he embraced 'waking up at 6:30 two days a week so that I could hustle up to 14th Street to shake it shake it shake it like a Polaroid'...equal parts memoir and cultural history ... With each chapter, Alford draws important contrasts between the past and the present while examining how dance infiltrates every aspect of our lives — from social entree, to emotion and release, to religion and spirituality, to politics ... interweaves heartwarming and hilarious anecdotes about his deep dive into all things dance.
Journalist and humorist Henry Alford’s exploration of the world of dance, the author observes 'a blatant manifestation of snobbery' in that world: the habit of referring to nonprofessional dancers simply as 'non-dancers' ... Age is front and center...with Alford beginning a serious pursuit of dance at the comparatively youthful age of 50, he jokes that 50 'in gay years is 350' ...witty and touching ... an exploration of the world of dance.
Although the chapters of And Then We Danced don't seem to have been written on journalistic assignment, they nevertheless feel like a series of magazine articles. The finest works of immersion journalism...have a narrative drive that is missing here. Yet Alford's jaunty reportorial style makes the meandering journey perfectly pleasant. From his participation in a Twyla Tharp community dance piece in a public park to his breakout role in a four-minute art film about contact improv, he wholeheartedly illustrates the wisdom that shimmers at the heart of his book: 'Hobbies are hope.'
A humorist with roots at the legendary Spy magazine ... From arabesques to Zumba, he does the same for dance, making a collage of the form's history, his personal experiences and dry, wry wit ... His stories can digress without ever making a point, but his writing also has a tender touch ... There's nothing new in these bios, but Alford has a smooth, lighthearted way of weaving history into his own experiences with an eye for detail, vivid imagery and a talent for synthesis.
Participatory journalist ponders the social functions of dance in the 20th century, using his own late-blooming passion as a guide to inquiry. After a mostly danceless youth—excepting cotillion lessons and bouncing from New England socialite balls to Studio 54 as a teenager, plus coming out in New York in the 1980s—the author first began obsessing over dance in his mid-50s ... A humorist unites a neophyte’s history of modern dance with his own unlikely dance memoir
Alford weaves in the biographies of seminal dancers and choreographers throughout, such as Savion Glover’s use of nostalgia in his work and Twyla Tharp’s repeated acts of rebellion against the dance canon, but he’s at his best describing how these functions have influenced his own life and those of everyday people...a combination of self-deprecating narration and detailed reporting ... Will charm and intrigue dance enthusiasts of all kinds.