Why We Dance

-written by Hearth MemberMatthew Reese

“This is why we dance.”

That is the most special sentence I’ve heard spoken on the dance floor. A woman dear to all at my local contra dance—something of a community grandmother—approached me and a friend whom I had just waltzed with. “I want you guys to know, it is an honor watching you dance. This is why we dance,” she said, beaming. Sure enough, it had been a good waltz, and we were indeed close, but she seemed to be talking about something more than just enjoying seeing two young people having fun. This is why we dance.

waltzdayThis phrase stuck with me for some time afterwards, but I didn’t know why. Was she simply commenting on the enjoyment she experienced watching people waltz? Was she happy we were happy? Neither of these seemed to be it. Eventually, I got it. She was not speaking about individual pleasure she felt, or we had derived from dancing with each other. Rather, she recognized the role we had in the community, as we shared a connection through our dance. The honor was seeing something bigger than just her or us. It was seeing two people offer something to a people and a place.

Dancing is special in this regard. Past blog posts I’ve written talk about connection. This word is fundamental to personhood. We are not islands. We are not atoms. We can never be unencumbered. We form relationships and those relationships empower us to be more fully ourselves. Community is about the hard work that is involved in empowering other people. It can be frustrating, it can be burdensome, but we do it because people are beautiful. Dancing, like all communal arts, is devoted to the beauty of others, and experienced through interpersonal connection. While these connections can sometimes be difficult relationally, dancing enables us to experience the beauty of the other, and re-appreciate the importance of our relationship to them.

This is why we make things together at Miranda’s Hearth. This is why we dance.


Dance with us at our monthly Waltzdays event, every fourth Sunday from 7:00-10:30 at The Democracy Center.

The next event is this Sunday, April 24!

Interested in joining the Hearth community?

Sign-up for our weekly email with event info, project updates, and news about our members.

Interested in joining the Hearth community?

Sign-up for our weekly email with event info, project updates, and news about our members.