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Shall We Dance?

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My mother tells me that before his stroke, my father was a dancing fool. Loved to dance--all the women stood in line for a turn. He was pretty smooth in the good old, slow-dance category, and I guess he did the polka, since he spent a lot of time in Germany after the war as an Army officer. We think about food and dress as reflections of a people, but dance is right at the top of that list, too.

I think of the different kinds of dancing I've seen around the world--from the complicated, precise dances of Asia to the exuberant tribal dancing in Africa. From the belly dancing of the Middle East to Irish tap dancing that prompted big stage productions like "Lord of the Dance" and "Riverdance." Next time you travel, whether it's to Thailand or Texas, check out the dance scene. Stop in to a local bar or look for a folk life center where regional, traditional dance might take place. It's not just about people moving to music. It's about generations of history, culture, and style.

The first time I saw a couple tango was in the San Telmo neighborhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I thought it was the kind of dance my father would have been good at. And when we went together to see the movie Scent of a Woman, he was probably more riveted than I was when Al Pacino--playing a blind, retired Army officer--swept a beautiful, young woman across the floor for a tango. I had the feeling he was imagining himself in that role. So for me--and for my Dad--what do you say? Shall we tango?


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