Phil Dacey, poet and SMSU professor emeritus of English, who now lives in Manhattan, loves the art of dance and loves to write about it. While Jim and I were at a writing conference in NYC, we introduced Phil to Zac. Later Phil interviewed Zac and wrote the poem below (published in The Raintown Review, Dec. 2008), which he gave me permission to post here. He captures Zac's spirit and energy, and the form he chose makes the poem move like modern dance, creates great music. Enjoy!
I recently found a quote by Voltaire that encourages us to read and to dance, two of my favorite things: "Let us read and let us dance, two delights that will never do any harm to the world."
“A peanut butter bagel,” he orders. “Breakfast
for a dancer. Protein.” We’re midtown, 8th Avenue,
near where he’ll rehearse at noon. But first
his dancing’s all in words for this interview:
“I can eat like a pig, and drink like a fish--
water, that is; by the gallon jug in the studio.”
Outside the cafe window, the morning rush
does its own dance, a classic of color, noise, and flow.
“Ballet, modern, post-mod--I like it all.
But I’m at home with modern, how it gets down
on the ground, so much so even a crawl
can be part of it. That feels more human
“to me than ballet, which favors the vertical,
transcending the earth. But modern’s bare feet bring
us close to the source, the mother. Sole on soil.
My god is gravity; let it do its thing.
“Still, I remember my first ballet shoes.
I bought them at K-Mart in Marshall, Minnesota.
I thought they were beautiful. And they were. But I was
no aspirant to the world of Anna Pavlova--
“to my sister’s, yes. One day she’d come home from class
and shown off her developee. One leg held straight out
at right angles to the other, arms raised. The stress
made her tremble; I trembled in awe at the sight.
“I want to do that, I told my parents, who
weren’t surprised, given the shows--song and dance--
I mounted for them in their bedroom all through
childhood (I was now ten). My first audience!”
Pause for coffee, bagel, and fond thoughts.
Then a turn: “The smokers in dance are what I don’t like.
Whole corps de cigarettes, trashed lungs. I don’t get it.
The smell of sweat sure beats the smell of smoke.
“And there are the jobs one takes to make ends meet.
For many summers, I performed at Mary Kay
conventions. Once I was hired to impersonate
a dancing bottle of champagne--Veuve Clicquot!
“But the pleasures make the struggles all worthwhile.
You wouldn’t believe the endorphin rush. It’s addictive.
And to pursue the same line of work as Angel
Corella...Well, it’s not a bad way to live.
“Corella’s great because he combines the virile
and the tender, the muscular and the lightest of
touches. As to the dead, Nijinsky rules:
his Rite of Spring pissed everybody off.
“I’d love to dance it someday. To throw myself
percussively to the floor as the music pounds.
To hulk and make the most of the body’s heft.
Beauty’s not what’s pretty but what offends.”
That’s Whitman, too, I say. “Yes, he wore his hat
indoors or out, right? If I could dance in the role
of Walt, I’d portray him as both athletic and sweet.
Hey, a poetic version of Angel Corella!
“In fact, I’ve long believed the arts should serve
each other. What fun, and more, to blur the line
between arts! If I had two lives to live,
I’d live one as an art historian.”
A book about dance? “What influenced me most
was Zen in the Art of Archery. It taught
me to see that the dancer at his or her best
is all at once archer, arrow, bow, and target.”
The clock’s hands are doing their usual soft-shoe.
“Dancing with the David Parsons Company
has made going to work--what I’ve got to do
now--a pleasure. My one-year anniversary
with them is coming up soon. I’m riding a wave.”
Goodbyes, and then the wave and he are gone
down 8th Avenue--a stage where every move
he makes is spotlit by a midday sun.