cover image And Then We Danced: A Voyage into the Groove

And Then We Danced: A Voyage into the Groove

Henry Alford. Simon & Schuster, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-50-112225-5

In his exhilarating book, Thurber Prize–winner Alford (Big Kiss) examines the various functions of dance in American culture through a combination of hilarious, self-deprecating narration and detailed reporting. 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 (dance is a “fully immersive experience that allows us to meld with other people”). As a participatory journalist, Alford delves deep into the world of contact improv, and experiences the genre’s profound levels of intimacy; recounts his own use of dance to release pain and emotion (when he was upset, he brought his pain to dance classes and “thrashed it out”); and witnesses firsthand dance’s rehabilitative powers for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Packed with countless laugh-out-loud anecdotes (“If you get it right, the effect is that of a stork with a trick knee trying to take flight”) and insightful examinations of human interaction and culture, Alford’s latest will charm and intrigue dance enthusiasts of all kinds. (June)