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Poems About Dance


Dance Poems = Flow-etry

I love to dance and watch dancers on stage. This page brings together poems about dance (or with dance as a metaphor) and some artwork inspired by dance. Play your favorite dance music and enjoy!

Why Dancing?

Dancing is an art, we may be sure,

cannot die out,

but will always be undergoing a rebirth.

Not merely as an art, but also as a

social custom, it perpetually emerges afresh from the soul of the people.

~ Havelock Ellis ~



by Carl Sandburg

THE LADY in red, she in the chile con carne red,

Brilliant as the shine of a pepper crimson in the summer sun,

She behind a false-face, the much sought-after dancer, the most sought-after dancer of all in this masquerade,

The lady in red sox and red hat, ankles of willow, crimson arrow amidst the Spanish clashes of music,

I sit in a corner

watching her dance first with one man

and then another.


The Harlem Dancer

by Claude McKay

Applauding youths laughed with young prostitutes

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And watched her perfect, half-clothed body sway;

Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes

Blown by black players upon a picnic day.

She sang and danced on gracefully and calm,

The light gauze hanging loose about her form;

To me she seemed a proudly-swaying palm

Grown lovelier for passing through a storm.

Upon her swarthy neck black shiny curls

Luxuriant fell; and tossing coins in praise,

The wine-flushed, bold-eyed boys, and even the girls,

Devoured her shape with eager, passionate gaze;

But looking at her falsely-smiling face,

I knew her self was not in that strange place.


Dance of the Bubbles

by Raymond A. Foss

A watched pot,

beginning to boil

growing bubbles in the dimples

the Teflon surface

called to the ball,

to dance, merge, join

with each other,

twirl and whirl,

glide and slide

across the floor

to the syncopated tempo,

frantic motion,

frenetic energy,

ready to rise

to swirl to the surface,

explode free,

up into the air


I cannot dance upon my Toes

by Emily Dickinson

I cannot dance upon my Toes --

No Man instructed me --

But oftentimes, among my mind,

A Glee possesseth me,

That had I Ballet knowledge --

Would put itself abroad

In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe --

Or lay a Prima, mad,

And though I had no Gown of Gauze --

No Ringlet, to my Hair,

Nor hopped to Audiences -- like Birds,

One Claw upon the Air,

Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls,

Nor rolled on wheels of snow

Till I was out of sight, in sound,

The House encore me so --

Nor any know I know the Art

I mention -- easy -- Here --

Nor any Placard boast me --

It's full as Opera --

Street Dance Video


Living Tools

author unknown

The dancer's shoes lay alone,

Arms wrapped around their bodies in a deep sleep,

That fell upon them like a heavy cloak.

Yet still there is a rigidity,

That remains poised and ready for action

Waiting for the master's hand

To prick them from their resting spot,

Their pale pink flesh seems to move,

For the spirit can always be seen,

By those aware to the art.

And when lovingly they are taken,

Molded to a delicate foot to become one

Strengthened being, they retain that spirit

Awakened, they stretch and groan,

Announcing their prescence with joy.

This is what they live for,

With the strength of a bodybuilder,

These muscle-men disguised as princesses,

Bear the load, jumping and spinning,

Until once again they return to slumber,

Arms wrapped around tightly,

Savoring the spirit of it all.


The Baby's Dance

by Ann Taylor

Dance little baby, dance up high,

Never mind baby, mother is by;

Crow and caper, caper and crow,

There little baby, there you go;

Up to the ceiling, down to the ground,

Backwards and forwards, round and round;

Dance little baby, and mother shall sing,

With the merry coral, ding, ding, ding.


Indian Dancer

by Sarojini Naidu

EYES ravished with rapture, celestially panting, what passionate bosoms aflaming with fire

Drink deep of the hush of the hyacinth heavens that glimmer around them in fountains of light;

O wild and entrancing the strain of keen music that cleaveth the stars like a wail of desire,

And beautiful dancers with houri-like faces bewitch the voluptuous watches of night.

The scents of red roses and sandalwood flutter and die in the maze of their gem-tangled hair,

And smiles are entwining like magical serpents the poppies of lips that are opiate-sweet;

Their glittering garments of purple are burning like tremulous dawns in the quivering air,

And exquisite, subtle and slow are the tinkle and tread of their rhythmical, slumber-soft feet.

Now silent, now singing and swaying and swinging, like blossoms that bend to the breezes or showers,

Now wantonly winding, they flash, now they falter, and, lingering, languish in radiant choir;

Their jewel-girt arms and warm, wavering, lily-long fingers enchant through melodious hours,

Eyes ravished with rapture, celestially panting, what passionate bosoms aflaming with fire!


My Daughter at 14, Christmas Dance

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Panic in your face, you write questions

to ask him. When he arrives,

you are serene, your fear

unbetrayed. How unlike me you are.

After the dance,

I see your happiness; he holds

your hand. Though you barely speak,

your body pulses messages I can read

all too well. He kisses you goodnight,

his body moving toward yours, and yours

responding. I am frightened, guard my

tongue for fear my mother will pop out

of my mouth. "He is not shy," I say. You giggle,

a little girl again, but you tell me he

kissed you on the dance floor. "Once?"

I ask. "No, a lot."

We ride through rain-shining 1 a.m.

streets. I bite back words which long

to be said, knowing I must not shatter your

moment, fragile as a spun-glass bird,

you, the moment, poised on the edge of

flight, and I, on the ground, afraid.


Vaudeville Dancer

by Carl Sandburg

ELSIE FLIMMERWON, you got a job now with a jazz outfit in vaudeville.

The houses go wild when you finish the act shimmying a fast shimmy to The Livery Stable Blues.

It is long ago, Elsie Flimmerwon, I saw your mother over a washtub in a grape arbor when your father came with the locomotor ataxia shuffle.

It is long ago, Elsie, and now they spell your name with an electric sign.

Then you were a little thing in checked gingham and your mother wiped your nose and said: You little fool, keep off the streets.

Now you are a big girl at last and streetfuls of people read your name and a line of people shaped like a letter S stand at the box office hoping to see you shimmy.


The Dance

Friedrich von Schiller

See how, like lightest waves at play, the airy dancers fleet;

And scarcely feels the floor the wings of those harmonious feet.

Ob, are they flying shadows from their native forms set free?

Or phantoms in the fairy ring that summer moonbeams see?

As, by the gentle zephyr blown, some light mist flees in air,

As skiffs that skim adown the tide, when silver waves are fair,

So sports the docile footstep to the heave of that sweet measure,

As music wafts the form aloft at its melodious pleasure,

Now breaking through the woven chain of the entangled dance,

From where the ranks the thickest press, a bolder pair advance,

The path they leave behind them lost--wide open the path beyond,

The way unfolds or closes up as by a magic wand.

See now, they vanish from the gaze in wild confusion blended;

All, in sweet chaos whirled again, that gentle world is ended!

No!--disentangled glides the knot, the gay disorder ranges--

The only system ruling here, a grace that ever changes.

For ay destroyed--for ay renewed, whirls on that fair creation;

And yet one peaceful law can still pervade in each mutation.

And what can to the reeling maze breathe harmony and vigor,

And give an order and repose to every gliding figure?

That each a ruler to himself doth but himself obey,

Yet through the hurrying course still keeps his own appointed way.

What, would'st thou know? It is in truth the mighty power of tune,

A power that every step obeys, as tides obey the moon;

That threadeth with a golden clue the intricate employment,

Curbs bounding strength to tranquil grace, and tames the wild enjoyment.

And comes the world's wide harmony in vain upon thine ears?

The stream of music borne aloft from yonder choral spheres?

And feel'st thou not the measure which eternal Nature keeps?

The whirling dance forever held in yonder azure deeps?

The suns that wheel in varying maze?--That music thou discernest?

No! Thou canst honor that in sport which thou forgettest in earnest.

Ballet: A Beautiful Strength - Video



by Alan Lukawenko

Ballet is beauty in the making...

Line of you know what it means?

What do you think of Sylvie Guillem?

Pointe shoes,..yes I know it's painful for some,

but must surely make you feel like an angel...on a cloud.

Angels must dreams of ballerinas...don't you think?


Line Dancing

by Maureen Bell

FOLK think its easy, it is not,

When its done right you get red hot,

You have to learn grape vines and scuffs

And sailor steps and other stuff,

Like apple jacks and Montereys,

Shuffles and stomps in different ways

Which way to turn in four wall dances

You have to know, no taking chances

The teacher tells you: 'This one's easy,"

And makes it sound so bright and breezy

Easy my foot, it's complicated,

But we must learn it before it's dated.

So every week we sweat and strain

Before it's instilled into the brain,

Once it's there it's satisfying

Although it was sometimes very trying.


Sweet Dancer

by William Butler Yeats

The girl goes dancing there

On the leaf-sown, new-mown, smooth

Grass plot of the garden;

Escaped from bitter youth,

Escaped out of her crowd,

Or out of her black cloud.

Ah, dancer, ah, sweet dancer!

If strange men come from the house

To lead her away, do not say

That she is happy being crazy;

Lead them gently astray;

Let her finish her dance,

Let her finish her dance.

Ah, dancer, ah, sweet dancer!


The Dance

by R. S. Thomas

She is young. Have I the right

Even to name her? Child,

It is not love I offer

Your quick limbs, your eyes;

Only the barren homage

Of an old man whom time

Crucifies. Take my hand

A moment in the dance,

Ignoring its sly pressure,

The dry rut of age,

And lead me under the boughs

Of innocence. Let me smell

My youth again in your hair.


Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?

by Mary Oliver

Don't call this world adorable, or useful, that's not it.

It's frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.

The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.

The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white

feet of the trees

whose mouths open.

Doesn't the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?

Haven't the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,

until at last, now, they shine

in your own yard?

Don't call this world an explanation, or even an education.

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking

outward, to the mountains so solidly there

in a white-capped ring, or was he looking

to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea

that was also there,

beautiful as a thumb

curved and touching the finger, tenderly,

little love-ring,

as he whirled,

oh jug of breath,

in the garden of dust? .


Javanese Dancers

by Arthur Symons

Twitched strings, the clang of metal, beaten drums,

Dull, shrill, continuous, disquieting:

And now the stealthy dancer comes

Undulantly with cat-like steps that cling;

Smiling between her painted lids a smile,

Motionless, unintelligible, she twines

Her fingers into mazy lines,

The scarves across her fingers twine the while.

One, two, three, four glide forth, and, to and fro,

Delicately and imperceptibly,

Now swaying gently in a row,

Now interthreading slow and rhythmically,

Still, with fixed eyes, monotonously still,

Mysteriously, with smiles inanimate,

With lingering feet that undulate,

With sinuous fingers, spectral hands that thrill

In measure while the gnats of music whirr,

The little amber-coloured dancers move,

Like painted idols seen to stir

By the idolators in a magic grove.


I praise the dance

by Saint Augustine

I praise the dance, for it frees people

from the heaviness of matter and binds the isolated to community.

I praise the dance, which demands everything:

health and a clear spirit and a buoyant soul.

Dance is a transformation of space, of time, of people,

who are in constant danger of becoming all brain, will, or feeling.

Dancing demands a whole person,

one who is firmly anchored in the center of his life,

who is not obsessed by lust for people and things

and the demon of isolation in his own ego.

Dancing demands a freed person,

one who vibrates with the equipoise of all his powers.

I praise the dance.

O man, learn to dance,

or else the angels in heaven will not know what to do with you


The Dance

by William Carlos Williams

In Breughel's great picture, The Kermess,

the dancers go round, they go round and

around, the squeal and the blare and the

tweedle of bagpipes, a bugle and fiddles

tipping their bellies, (round as the thick-

sided glasses whose wash they impound)

their hips and their bellies off balance

to turn them. Kicking and rolling about

the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts, those

shanks must be sound to bear up under such

rollicking measures, prance as they dance

in Breughel's great picture, The Kermess


The Lost Dancer

by Jean Toomer

Spatial depths of being survive

The birth to death recurrences

Of feet dancing on earth of sand;

Vibrations of the dance survive

The sand; the sand, elect, survives

The dancer. He can find no source

Of magic adequate to bind

The sand upon his feet, his feet

Upon his dance, his dance upon

The diamond body of his being.

art: sandra renzi / photobucket


Dance Is Like Life

by Michelle Lyon

Learning to dance is like life.

You take baby steps,tiny leaps and jumps,

Someone's always there when you cry.

Things are starting to come together,

Your once new shoes are feeling softer and worn

Each delicate pointe is becoming more like an arch.

Leaps and kicks become stronger each time,

Soon you realize your every jump and kick is right,

The steps are fluid pouring out of a jar,

Everyday you're twirling into a new adventure,

Every dance you dance makes you a star.


Comments Welcome!

Robin Carretti from Hightstown on February 15, 2018:

Well wow, you really moved my steps inside your words. I must say it is an art movement so much grace smiling at someone or dancing with timeless energy your words moved through me bravo

anonymous on April 13, 2013:

I love these poems. i wish i could see the real you dancing. i hope you never stop dancing. but carry on sharing.

tandemonimom lm on February 27, 2013:

Wonderful! Thanks for sharing these dance poems.

Salsa Dancing on February 19, 2013:

Thanks, this is a great collection of poems!

anonymous on January 25, 2012:

great tribute indeed, I've got a daughter who loves ballet and loves to read, I'm sure a few of these would be right up her alley.

Thug_Poet on January 14, 2012:

WoW. Nice.

oakstreet on November 22, 2011:

This is a great len that really light up the beauty of dance and I think the bubbles of dance is a great imagination. That's why I need to give you a "like" for your work. Great len.

Runnn on June 24, 2011:

I'm a salsasero... Great lense.

Jacqueline Marshall (author) from Chicago area on May 28, 2011:

@james g pete: Yes! I love that poem. Would be a good addition to the lens. Thanks for the idea.

james g pete on May 28, 2011:

What a colorful and dynamic lens. I give you another dance poem by Ted Roethke, who taught at U. of W. in the fifties.

My Papa's Waltz

The whiskey on your breath

Could make a small boy dizzy;

But I hung on like death:

Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans

Slid from the kitchen shelf;

My mother's countenance

Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist

Was battered on one knuckle;

At every step you missed

My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head

With a palm caked hard by dirt,

Then waltzed me off to bed

Still clinging to your shirt.

Barthlays on April 24, 2011:

liked it ! what a great lens about my passion for dance !

Patricia on February 25, 2011:

Blessing this lens and putting it on my Poetry Review lens!

ShamanicShift on January 19, 2011:

What a beautiful collection of dance images and poems -- blessed by a SquidAngel!

Patricia on December 20, 2010:

I love this poetry and the pictures you have with them!

CozyKitty on November 22, 2010:

Wow! You've done a wonderful job of pairing poems with images. I'm also a huge fan of dance, and enjoy poetry as well. Thanks so much for visiting and voting up my lenses. I've added you to "whose fan clubs did i join?"


RinchenChodron on June 09, 2010:

You did a great job here! I like the Ann Taylor poem and the tiny tots doing ballet! Well done.

Indigo Janson from UK on April 19, 2010:

Delighted to lensroll these poems about dance to my Tango lens.

Mona from Iowa on April 19, 2010:

Another beautiful lens with the great combination of artwork and poetry. :)

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