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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