Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Emma Press Anthology of Dance

The Emma Press Anthology of Dance (book) - reviewed on 14th June

"Dance is present at every stage of human life," writes editor Emma Wright in The Emma Press Anthology of Dance's introduction. "From lessons to courtships to celebrations and moments when music just demands a response, dance is an essential part of our textured existence."

Illuminating this textured existence in verse, the anthology features 42 short poems ranging from the prosaic to the word-sparse but united by a (not always immediately obvious) focus on dance. There's drunken staggering on new year's eve, a man who was left at the altar and now repeatedly rehearses his wedding dance, a family with three generations of dancers, and many things in between.

I seldom read poetry and found some of the verses hard to understand and appreciate, but there are several poems that put the emotion of dance beautifully into words. Rachel Piercey's The corps describes the dichotomy for corps de ballet dancers between enjoying the belonging and unity of their position but also desperately "longing to be set apart". As a response to being told her feet were like kippers, Rosie Sandler's Breathing underwater uses interesting fish and sea-based metaphors for dance, while Catherine Smith's My Dancers depicts her teenage dreams of 'dancing' out of school, which were materialised as drawings of ballerinas on her maths homework.

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