Last night we were at the Kennedy Center to catch a performance at the Millennium Stage. As part of the Jazz in DC series, Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton were on tap, with pianist Aaron Diehl performing.
Friday evening rush hour traffic was worse than we planned for and we got there mid way into the program. The ushers showed us to a small space on this side of the rope cordoning off the seats where we could sit on the floor (all the seats were taken and there was an overflow crowd of at least 50 standing to watch the performance).
We got to hear five pieces. The music was infectious, completely enjoyable to listen to. A number of people in the audience were bopping to the music. It was hard not to. The woman next to us had a chicken strut thing going with her head. A couple of rows ahead in the seats foot-tapping was the choice of body twitch. And there was one woman who could barely stay in her seat. From foot to head she had a great dance going while seated.
It reminded me of a Chandamama story (I just found its website and it has stories on it! Yay!) I read a very long time ago.
Once upon a time, a king wanted to find out who among his subjects was the best connoisseur of music. So he organized a series of concerts that was open to the public. At the first concert every single person in the audience was shaking his or her head to the music. The king was annoyed. Not only could he not identify the winner, he became suspicious that a majority of the audience was faking it. So he put out an edict - no more shaking of the head, he decreed.
So at the next concert no one swayed to the music for fear of displeasing the king. They looked around, stared straight ahead at the performers, looked down. All but one man. With eyes closed, his head followed the tune and moved up and down to the rhythm. At the end of the concert, the king called him over and pulled him up for disobeying his rule.
Another day, another concert. Same scene as at the second performance. The one man continued to ignore the king's edict. So the king called him out again, but this time asked him why he continued to sway to the music when he had specifically forbidden it. The man explained that he forgot where he was or what he was supposed to do when he heard music. The music moved him and made it impossible for him to sit still.
The king was pleased. He had found his winner.
If you like jazz and want to indulge in some swaying and bopping yourself, the Jazz in DC series is ongoing at the Millennium Stage. The performances are free and they usually go for an hour from 6 pm. If you can't make it, the performances are available by live webcast.