Thursday, October 14, 2010

Alive in the Artisphere

Once again my blog is saved from gloom and doom.  This post was going to be about what a rotten time of it so many of us seem to be having these days, how tough life has become, the grave troubles of the world…So I picked myself up from my navel gazing and went out to remind myself of the beauty that flourishes alongside the blues.

I went to an art opening.  Arlington, Virginia is home to the new Artisphere, a series of lively multi-function arts spaces in the old Newseum building in Rosslyn.  After treating ourselves to dim sum beforehand at China Garden, my friend and I rolled across the street to the weekend-long open house.  The building was bustling with performances and visual arts.  I wasn’t blown away by the latter but the former made my trek to the other side of the river well worth it. 

As I browsed one exhibit, I noticed people gravitating to a lobby area.  Lemming-like, I joined them, to see across the atrium a group of a half dozen dancers performing on a staircase.  I was mesmerized by the beauty of the tightly spaced, measured movements, the elegance of every perfect leg extension, the gauzy skirts over the women’s leotards and the muscles on the male danseurs.  I almost wept with the loveliness of it.  Bowen McCauley Dance Troupe is stunning.  Encore! Encore!

Not long after wrenching myself from my viewing perch after the dancers departed, I roamed into the ballroom to await a performance from Joe Falero and DC Latin Jazz All Stars.  Lo and behold, as more people came in and joined me sitting on a bench built into a wall opposite the stage, several of the dancers who’d just performed ended up sitting next to me, so I was able to tell them how much I appreciated their performance.

From the quiet grace of the modern dancers we now spun into the excitement of music that digs inside the audience and stirs the spirit.  As the band hit the ground running, a couple moved onto the dance floor who we pegged for pros, instructors.  It was bliss watching them move, the woman a dead ringer for Judith Jamison, a white leotard sharp against her chocolate skin and a bright Caribbean-looking skirt that swung sexily as she did, the man a ham and a half but a skilled one, clearly enjoying himself mightily; their pleasure at each step and swing was infectious. As the musicians hit the high notes with salsa, mambo, bolero, cha-cha, with each number more and more people ventured out to move to the music, until for one salsa there were on the floor parents with babies in their arms, a man in a wheelchair rolling happily around, a woman with a gimme cap and fanny pack setting the floor on fire, a couple obviously freshly graduated from dance lessons, and they all looked awesome.  For all of them, and all of us swaying in our seats uncontrollably, it was pure art elevating the spirit.

It didn’t matter what anyone was wearing.  Dance shoes shared space with loafers, work boots, sandals.  Long flowy skirts that moved with lithe bodies shared space with blue jeans on plump bottoms and khakis on scrawny legs.  Two little girls, emboldened by their Mom dancing happily alone on the floor among all the couples, pranced out onto the floor, grabbed her and danced together.   It doesn’t matter if you’re short, tall, fat, thin, lumpy, sleek, everyone is beautiful when the music infuses you and pulls you up on your feet, and you move under its thrall. Each beat better than the last, bongo, congas, sax, and more, Latin flavor fabulousness--Joe Falero & DC Latin Jazz All Stars, thank you!

I came to heal, and heal I did, heal we all did.  On a gorgeous autumn day in an industrial space just over the Key Bridge from Georgetown, in a little urban jungle,  we filled our hearts and souls with music, and dance, and life was—life is--good.  


  1. Happy happy post. No gloom and doom in this ballroom.

  2. Dance does help, doesn't it? I think that's why I enjoy zumba class so much... PatR