I dance because, like the wind, I want to escape the storm. 
Or does the wind cause the storm? And I am not the wind, but the storm?

I dance to forget. The past, and sometimes the present. 

I dance like my mother, who also danced. When I’d ask her a question, she’d give me a sideways glance and reply: “mmhmm” as she would plié, relevé, coupé. 

Now I am like my mother, and when my daughter asks me a question, I give her a sideways glance and say: “mmhmm” as I plié, relevé, coupé.

Maybe I can break this sideways communication. 

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins sings “I Put a Spell on You” and I jump up, scissoring my knees in and out like the juke joint dancers. Hands weaving in and out. 

While I’m putting her to bed she says, “remember?” and scissors her knees in and out. She looks like a bug under a microscope. 

Laughing. Her hair dancing, eyes dancing. 

And we are dancing together. 

I am a choreographer. Like a coach on the sidelines, I don’t have a whistle, but in my mind, I’m saying “hup, hup, hup, go team!”

Fluid, sweat and body. I dance to escape the knee-hip-back-and-feet ache.
Plié, relevé, dégagé, tombé, pirouette.
Put things back in place.

When I dance, I capture the other half of the whole. My dancing half is whole and the other a half. The half that continually seeks the whole.

I dance to dance the light fantastic. 

I am a house of cards. Sometimes stacked and cannot fall. Then, on the verge of flight, I release, recover, whirl, dip, turn, and crash to the floor; an enormous wave on a breakwater. I like the grunt of impact in a lift. 

I dance because it is a long, black road ahead. 

And I am without sight, scent, taste or sense.

Just body.

I dance because it is. 



Nicole Colbert is a choreographer, educator, writer, and artistic director of Nicole Colbert Dance/Theatre. Her dance work has been presented extensively in NYC and New Orleans and in festivals in Denmark, England and Russia. She is an Adjunct Professor in English at CUNY and writes for Dance Informa and theatre criticism for Offoffonline.com.


"Why I Dance," by Nicole Colbert