Tackling a wide range of forms (including ballet, hip-hop, jazz, ballroom, tap, contact improvisation, Zumba, swing), this grand tour takes us through the works and careers of luminaries ranging from Bob Fosse to George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp to Arthur Murray. Rich in insight and humor, Alford mines both personal experience and fascinating cultural history to offer a witty and ultimately moving portrait of how dance can express all things human.
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.'