Regulars and Shorts, Shall We Dance

Shall We Dance? December 2011

By Amy Brunvand

2011: A year of dance and revolution.

Dance, when you’re broken open; Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off; Dance in the middle of the fighting; Dance in your blood; Dance, when you’re perfectly free. 

January: People in Tunisia dance in the streets after protests force President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (23 years in office) to flee the country; “Thought of You,” a dance animation by BYU professors Ryan Woodward and Kori Wakamatsu goes viral. In a true Utah moment, Wakamatsu takes a break halfway through the project to give birth to a baby girl, returning with her 11-day-old infant to finish things up. 

February: Egyptians dance in Tahrir Square after protests end the reign of President Hosni Mubarak (30 years). In Salt Lake City, hundreds of Tim DeChristopher’s supporters parade through the streets dancing and singing. A group continues to dance and sing in front of the courthouse during the four days of his trial. DeChristopher is found guilty of two felony counts for a nonviolent act of civil disobedience thwarting an oil lease auction in order to help stop global climate change.

March: Dancing Mormon missionaries are a hit on Broadway in The Book of Mormon musical. This comes as no surprise to Utahns since the tap-dancing gay missionaries in Saturday’s Voyeur at the Salt Lake Acting Company have been an audience favorite for years. Reper­tory Dance Theatre presents “Place: Dancing the Green Map,” a kinesthetic representation of sustainable living and nature in Salt Lake County, proving that interpretive dance is still a relevant art form.

April: British subjects dance in the street to celebrate the ostentatious and extravagantly expensive wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, both unquestionably part of the 1%. 

May: Former Utah governor and GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. dances around the question of how Mormon he really is—when Time Magazine asks him about his faith, Hunts­man replies, “I’m a very spiritual person and proud of my Mormon roots.” 

June: 2002 Winter Olympic savior and GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney is shown on the cover of Newsweek Magazine as a dancing Mormon missionary. The Photo­shopped image refers to the hit Broadway musical (not Saturday’s Voyeur), but nonetheless conservative blogger Jim Geraghty objects to the image as resembling, “a deranged escapee from the set of Glee.”

July: Protesters in Salt Lake City resume dancing and singing in front of the federal courthouse as Tim DeChristopher is sentenced to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Outside Magazine later reports that the post-event potluck “had all the cheer of a wake.”

August: Granger High School graduate Tadd Gadduang is eliminated from “So You Think You Can Dance,” finishing fourth overall. In an interview with Ogden’s Standard Examiner, Gadduang makes the case for sibling rivalry saying, “The catalyst for me starting to dance was my older sister—she would ridicule me for how I couldn’t dance.” September: The Utah Lindy Exchange swing dance club swings into action at the iMatter climate justice march, dancing from the State Capitol to the Live Green festival in Library Square. In Wisconsin, citizens occupying the State Capitol building dance polkas to the tune of “Roll Out the Recall” singing, “Recall Scott Walker, Give him a kick in the rear! Recall Scott Walker. Toss him right out on his ear! …”

October: In Libya, people dance in the streets at the news of Muamar Gadhafi’s death (42 years of dictatorship); Occupy Salt Lake City marches from the State Capitol to set up camp at Pioneer Park in freezing rain (which generally discourages dancing). Police in Roosevelt, Utah, pepper spray Polynesian football fans dancing the Haka, a Maori war dance done at many sports events including BYU football games. 

November: Occupiers at Zuccotti Park in New York City are arrested for square dancing. As it happens, “Utah’s state folk dance is the square dance, the folk dance that is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers and includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, and heritage dances” (Utah Code, Title 63G, Chapter 1, Sec 601(12)). A study funded by the oil industry vastly overstates the number of jobs that might result from construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, claiming that the tar-sands pipeline would give jobs to, “dancers, choreographers, and speech therapists.” In Washington, DC 12,000 tar-sands protesters link hands in a human chain that wraps three times around the White House.

December: Remember, dancing on the Winter Solstice helps bring back the sun! 

Amy Brunvand is a librarian at the University of Utah and a dance enthusiast.

This article was originally published on November 30, 2011.