Poems of Gesture: Dances at a Gathering

George Balanchine once described dancers as "poets of gesture." With that evocative line in mind for our 19-20 Season, we're excited to explore the ways in which the stage and the page unite with a series of commissioned poems. Learn more about the project and enjoy this piece on Dances at a Gathering from poet Dominika Wrozynski.


Upon the 50th Anniversary Performance of Dances at a Gathering

Love jetés onto the stage, and it pirouettes
and pliés and simply walks.

And we are all at the gathering now,
because love does not care if we arrive
singly, or in pairs or threes, if we return
to 5th Avenue townhouses or crowded 5th floor walk-ups.

It just cares that we show up, and that we are
in it: first-blush romance, or one-night-stand, 
or a 50th anniversary jubilee.

The dancers remind us love is the furious push
and pull of Chopin’s mazurkas, their feet flying
through échappés and bourrées.

And it is the slow étude, the notes
as alone and wistful as the Girl in Lilac, 
who waits for her lover to return, though she knows he won’t.

What does return, when the dancers are finally still,
is this present night, which will soon dissolve
into memory, but which has wrapped us, for now, in wonder.


Dominika Wrozynski is the author of American Accent, winner of the 2017 Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Press. She is an Associate Professor of English at Manhattan College, where she teaches creative writing and literature and co-directs the college's Major Author Reading Series. Learn more about the process of turning a ballet into a poem in this exclusive Q&A.