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“My Love Song To Dance, My Love Song To The Arts”

I pity everyone who didn’t make it to Dance Happening last week—it was so good I had to go twice. Since my freshman year, fall of 2007, I’ve attended all the Happenings.

A body in motion can capture an emotion faster than a photograph and more accurately than words. I’d like to think, when the first humans roamed the earth we could only talk and move: sing, tell stories and dance. Mankind probably danced first.

Dance is addicting and joyous, once you discover your own beat you just can’t stop. It’s akin to an out-of-body experience, and I’ve often been happiest dancing in a club or doing a Soul Train Line in a restaurant (don’t ask).

Most of us who like to bust a move have no pretensions toward being dancers, so imagine watching your peers, who have trained for years at their craft, leaving it all on the stage.

Dance Happening is part circus, part living art. There’s something transcendent about dance. Not only my heart was affected; I had a mild adrenaline rush.

Emily Dickinson once wrote, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” Any piece of art worth it’s weight will have that effect.

How can a tap dancer and a ballerina gliding around a chair be so moving? Or eight women in black and white gowns—simply by turning their heads—choke up this writer?

A pirouette, a hand in the air, an apple on stage—dance transforms our simplest gestures into epiphanies.

There were moments when I felt like a voyeur, I had to turn away—yet isn’t that the sign of great art? Something so intimate you feel you have no place being there?
Sure, I’m possibly glorifying dance (I’m a writer, I love the arts: it happens.) but an important reason I attend the Happenings is because I wasn’t privileged enough to see dancers before college.

My high school had a swing dance club and that was about it; before that, there was Disney on Ice at age six, which would be the extent of my audience engagement with dance.

The Theater Department’s production of “The Women” was the first stage show I attended. The Tampa Museum was my first museum. And, my goal for this year is to attend more of the Music Department’s concerts and ensembles.

College is supposed to broaden your horizons not only in the classes you take or the people you meet, but in what you experience.

There are certainly lots of UT students who experience the same lack of exposure to the arts. We should all take advantage of these events while we can. Where else could we visit galleries, see musicals, hear world class musicians and talk with famous writers—for free? Events like these cost a pretty penny outside college.

This is my love song to dance, my love song to the arts—one piece at a time, touching the spirit.

Derrick Austin can be reached at

Upcoming Events:

Nov. 2
Open Mic, Austin Hall Oak Room, 8 p.m.

Nov. 5
Chamber Music Concert, Reeves, 8 p.m.

Nov. 5
Poet Rhett Trull Reading, 9th Floor of Vaughn, 8 p.m.

Nov. 7
Kate Gordon Senior Showcase, Reeves, 7 p.m.

Nov. 8
Sarah Braithwood / Tiana Sandh Senior Showcases, Grand Salon, 7:30 p.m. / 5:30 p.m.

Nov. 10
Quartet de Minaret, Grand Salon, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 12
Judith Ortiz Cofer Reading, Reeves, 8 p.m.

Nov. 19-22
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Falk, 8 p.m. (Thurs, Fri, Sat)  and 2 p.m. (Sunday). Free to UT students, faculty and staff; $10 general admission; $5 for senior citizens and non-UT students.

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