I am recalling the feeling of ecstasy coming from nowhere and about nothing in particular that would distinctly, momentarily overcome me at unforeseen moments in childhood and early adolescence: a sense of rightness with myself, the world, the moment, maybe even the future. This resonance, independent of and autonomous from what is actually going on in life, is one of the ways that I have experienced spirit. Later, I remember being “in the spirit” after taking dance classes at the New Dance Group Studios on West 47th Street near Broadway. It was the summer that I was 16. I had just graduated from high school (having skipped a grade of middle school) and before entering City College in the fall was using my typing and steno skills as a full-time temp secretary at the National Council of Churches headquarters on Riverside Drive. At five o’clock I’d leave my “day job,” take two back-to-back dance classes in non-air conditioned studios during the hot New York summer, then emerge on the steamy streets, sweaty but ecstatic. The dance experience connected me to the very air that enveloped Broadway and all that that air suggested for my future. Of course, part of the euphoria was caused by the release of endorphins from the physical exertion, but it was also something more. I can remember (but not re-member) an inexplicable joy of being. In the most intimate and specific ways my dancing body was all tied up with spirit.
KeywordsBlack Body African American Community Black Church African American Church Dance Class
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