Dancing Through History: A Memorial Day Tribute

Happy Memorial Day! We hope you are enjoying your barbecues, your day off from work, and your break from the Monday blues. But let us also remember why we have this wonderful day off: to remember the men and women who have fought for our country. And to honor their memory, we thought we’d take a look at some of the moments dance has been a part of our Nations’ wartime history…

During World War II, dance was a very important part of keeping up morale, and was most commonly performed in dance halls. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Swing Kids”, then you know what we’re talking about. Styles like the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, and the West Coast Swing were well known and practiced frequently. In fact, dancing was so popular during the war, that the phrase “dance music,” was used when referring to songs from the WWII time period. Dance was truly an escape for our Nation during a difficult time, and songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” are a testament to how dance, music, and movies all came together during the war. 

Other moments where dance and our military come together include Balanchine’s ballet “Stars and Stripes,” a salute by the famous choreographer to his adoptive country. Then there are war veterans like Roman Baca, who have returned to the dance world after serving our country. And of course there are videos of soldier homecomings that include the occasional flashmob! It seems that throughout our Nation’s history, dance has brought a few smiles during difficult times, and that in itself is something to celebrate.

About the author

Keira Whitaker is a dedicated teacher, performer, and choreographer, who has been dancing for the past 21 years. She recently graduated from the University of California Irvine with a BFA in Dance performance and a minor in English.