“We don’t call it dance, but let’s call it ‘footwork,'” says Gee. “We call it ‘footwork’ because that’s what makes ‘the dance’ work in a specific way. It’s a set of physical movements, and they do not happen out of sync or suddenly. It happens in a certain order over a period, and then it goes from a certain order over a period of time.”
I had always heard that dance could not be taught and practiced on the dance floors of Manhattan’s nightclubs. But this was a fact that was slowly dawning on me as I listened to the music as my feet bounced away from me on the floor. After all, as Gee put it, “If you can dance, you can be a dancer.”
Gee told me that the dance is much more complex, involving physical, spiritual and intellectual connections, and that what we call dance is actually a combination of music and gymnastic movements. As he told me, “There is always a balance between the two, and you don’t know where you stop and that balance occurs. If you don’t know where you stop, you won’t reach your goal.”
Gee is a spiritual soul who has spent his life working for and with the Native Americans on their land. When I asked about the Native Americans’ spiritual ties to their dance traditions, he paused and then said, “There is a spiritual connection between dancing and being a strong, spiritual person.” In other words, it’s not the dance that is the sacred part. In fact, the dance is an extension of the native people’s spiritual connections to nature and each other.
But this is not about the dance. It’s about the people who use their dance as a connection to their tribal spirits. It’s an extension of a physical activity that includes a dance and physical contact with other people in a community; it’s about getting in the groove and moving with the beat the person is moving.
When I tried to understand the significance of dance to me, my understanding was based on my childhood and the physical activity my mother and grandparents used to do. “I would go and play in the woods with my grandfather,” explains Gee. “It was a great part of my family’s lives. So we didn’t see them as people who were ‘doing this and that’ because everybody worked, but they were doing something.”
I asked Gee how he thinks there could be a connection with