The Vast, World-Wide Conspiracy of Dance

Dance, according to Robin Collingwood, was the original art form, and are you really going to argue with a guy who has been referred to as “the best known neglected thinker of our time”?  I didn’t think so.

The Dance Class, by Edgar Degas


All things considered, if your wife or significant other is going to be interested in a higher art form, dance is preferable to opera.  Once she buys a leotard and gives her zip code to Sherylynn’s Dance World, the dancewear catalogs and magazines start pouring in, like L.L. Bean’s on steroids.

If, on the other hand, she buys one of those Viking helmets favored by Wagnerian sopranos at Helga’s Opera Supplies, you’re going to get more of a plus-sized look in your mail.  I’m not saying that’s bad, just–different.

Dig the breastplates on that chick!


That’s why I race down to the mailbox every month to get my wife’s copy of Dance Spirit magazine, the bible of America’s dance-industrial complex.  It’s hard to believe that the same woman who would bar a seventeen-year-old boy from reading Playboy at the barber shop would subscribe to a publication that features page after page of nubile teenage girls wearing leotards, but a mother’s love is a mysterious thing.

As a devoted reader of Dance Spirit, I’ve come to appreciate its profiles of up-and-coming dance team members from far-flung outposts of the National Basketball Association; features on terpsichorean styles that provincial American audiences may have overlooked (“Polynesian Dance: Beyond Grass Skirts”); and in-depth looks at the burning issues dancers face today, such as “Don’t Fear the Unitard: Four Ways You Can Work It!”

What I was not prepared for was the revelation in a recent issue that dancers, like members of the French Foreign Legion, routinely adopt fictitious names!  That’s right–from the Laker Girls on the Left Coast, to Broadway, to the Bolshoi, if you think you know a dancer–you’re wrong.

“You’re Margot Fonteyn?  Sure–and I’m Jim the Wonder Dog!”


The list of famous dancers who’ve concealed their identity all these years is a long one.  Fred Astaire?  ne Austerlitz.  Cyd Charisse?  Try “Tula Ellice Finklea.”  Suzanne Farrell?  How about “Roberta Sue Ficker”!  And don’t get me started about “Chubby Checker” and his “Twist.”

The list goes on and on, causing one to ask:  Are “dance names” a threat, a cover-up or merely a benign, relatively-harmless world-wide conspiracy bent on destroying our traditional way of life?  What exactly are dancers hiding?  I think the American public is entitled to know.

Where, after all, do most children learn to dance but in taxpayer-supported public schools on Friday afternoons?  You can imagine Darrell Hohimer’s embarrassment when, once it is his turn to do the box-step with fifth-grade heart-throb Mary Beth Ohlrich, she flutters her fan in front of her oily nose and the following dialogue ensues:

DARRELL:  Hi, Mary Beth!

MBO:  My name is Conchita, the Queen of Flamenco.  I am allowed to skip a dancer in my sole discretion and move on to Kevin Turner, who is a dreamboat–as opposed to you, you phlegmatic phellow.

DH:  It’s not phelgm–it’s a cold sore.

MBO:  Kevin–my darling!

“Krump” Klown, er, krumping


Dance Spirit offers a helpful “Name Game” for the various styles that it serves, from “jazz,” to ballet, to “krumping,” which sounds like something you do to the crust of a chicken pot pie, but is in fact a form of dance.  After an initial prototype was scrapped because it assigned the name “Sassy” to thirteen consecutive dancers, an upgraded, multiple-choice Name Game 2.0 is now available to help you create your own unique, one-of-a-kind dance stage name.  Ready?  Let’s give it a whirl!

Q:  I would describe myself as:

a.  girly girl   b. tough chick  c.  prima ballerina  d.  that girl in the mirror

Q:  My alter ego is:

a.  rock star  b.  forensic accountant  c.  roller derby “jammer”  d.  Carmelite nun

Q:  I want my image to be:

a.  classy  b.  trashy  c. funky  d.  clumsy

For every “a” score three points.  For every “b” add one teaspoon of turmeric and fold into batter with spatula.  For every “c” solve for “d” where “x” = Avogadro’s Number.

Congratulations!  Your new nomme du dance is Dame Courtney B-Girl Sassy.

Unless you’re a male, in which case your name is Rudolf Travolta Terrio.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Dance Fever.”

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