“Captivating…equal parts memoir and cultural history, Henry Alford seamlessly interweaves heartwarming and hilarious anecdotes about his deep dive into all things dance” (Misty Copeland, The New York Times Book Review).
When Henry Alford wrote about his experience with a Zumba class for The New York Times, little did he realize that it was the start of something much bigger. Dance would grow and take on many roles for Henry: exercise, stress reliever, confidence builder, an excuse to travel, a source of ongoing wonder, and—when he dances with Alzheimer’s patients—even a kind of community service.
Tackling a wide range of forms (including ballet, hip-hop, jazz, ballroom, tap, contact improvisation, Zumba, swing), Alford’s 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. And Then We Danced “is in one sense a celebration of hoofer in all its wonder and variety, from abandon to refinement. But it is also history, investigation, memoir, and even, in its smart, sly way, self-help…very funny, but more, it is joyful—a dance all its own” (Vanity Fair).
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.