Dallas — Amid the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, we are all trying to do what we can to help our neighbors down south. But some residents of Houston and the surrounding areas are finding moments of levity in the freedom of movement. Yes, I’m talking about a rain dance. And no, this is not a joke. It’s exactly what we would need to do if we were told we couldn’t leave our homes, or were trapped in a situation completely out of our control. We would search for something, anything, to bring a smile to our family and friends’ faces and to lift our souls out of darkness.
It all started with Deandre Wilson, a teenager in Austin, who took the street outside of his house to dance up a storm of his own (see video below). Through the growing pools of water on the street, Wilson performed a series of twists and turns that mimicked the movement of the strong winds that howled louder than his music. While Wilson was not in any immediate danger from Harvey, his environmental improvisation, which was posted on Twitter by his cousin, inspired others to create their own “rain dances.”
In Houston, a man jumped and slid through rising water that hit well above his shins. Another performed b-boys moves that flung the water in circles above his flying feet. A woman shared a video of her family dancing inside their house as a way to entertain each other while they waited to be rescued. More and more videos were posted in response to Wilson’s—1,581 as of yesterday—with the original post receiving 115,000 retweets and 205,000 likes.
What does this show us? That dance can be both the de facto celebration of life and an act of defiance. It is an expression of unbridled energy and passion; an expression of un-granted freedom. There is no authority to say, “Now, now you may dance.” Instead, you are saying, “I will dance. You can’t stop me. Nothing can stop me. I will recover, I will rebuild. I will overcome.” And there were some who commented in protest, as though the dancers should all work, too busy to dance. But I submit that catharsis should be prescribed in moments of anxiety, when it looked like anything could have happened. Working to rid the soul of fear, so that rebuilding can start.
It is this emotion that I hope you can all support. Send morale. Send money, and seriously, please send money. But also, send morale. Find a shelter and bring your heart. Seek ways to volunteer! People should not be expected to lose their homes and in some cases, their cities, only to suffer in silence. Alongside our fellow Texans, we can all make a dance of defiance against the rain!
» American Theatre magazine has compiled a list of theaters and arts organizations in Houston affected by Harvey, with links for how to help.
» Danielle Georgiou is a dance educator, critic and writer. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of DGDG (Danielle Georgiou Dance Group) and is a working dancer and performance artist. Her column Sixth Position appears on the third Friday of the month on TheaterJones.com.
- February 2014: Cash Choreography
- March 2014: Make the Fringe Your Future
- April 2014: Don't Freak Out, It's Just an Audition
- May 2014: You Love Dance. You're Not Alone
- June 2014: Persevering Through Movement
- July 2014: Sharing in Success
- August 2014: To the Barre
- September 2014: Method Act
- October 2014: Fear of Flying
- December 2014: The Editor Dance
- January 2015: Community Relations
- February 2015: The Fabric of Movement
- March 2015: State of the Dance
- April 2015: The Dance Mom Complex
- May 2015: Who Wants to Date a Dancer?
- June 2015: Figuring How Men Fit In
- August 2015: Creative Economy
- September 2015: Dancing to Learn
- October 2015: Whose Idea Is It Anyway?
- December 2015: '15 Going on '16
- January 2016: In Memoriam
- Februrary 2016: The Politics of Dancing
- March 2016: No column
- April 2016: Defining Dance Theatre
- May 2016: No column
- June 2016: Dancing for Change
- July/August 2016: No column
- September 2016: Sweat the Details, Not the Consequences
- October/November 2016: No column
- December 2016: Louder Than Tweets
- January 2017: Making and Moving
- February 2017: Don't Fudge the Truth
- March 2017: The Collective Unconsciousness of Creating
- April 2017: Professionally Speaking
- May 2017: Dancer Depictions
- June 2017: No column (Danielle was busy preparing for Donkey Beach)
- July 2017: Where Have all the Critics Gone?