“Come Fly Away” on tour, or, in which I ponder dance as literature
My dear friend Robert over at ChicagoTheatreAddict had an extra ticket to attend the Chicago opening night of the national tour of “Come Fly Away,” Twyla Tharp’s tribute to Frank Sinatra, and I joined him.
The show is lovely – incredible dancers performing the story of lovers falling in and out at a nightclub while a big band plays along to the vocal tracks of Ol’ Blue Eyes himself. There’s the young and innocent/awkward couple, the red-dress-wearing hot chick and the smooth operator, and the arguing/dramatic couple, and in the course of an 80 minute show everyone breaks up and makes up and, to take a line from Frank himself, they all face the music and dance.
While the show isn’t full of any grand revelations about love, it got me thinking – Can dance be considered literature?
I believe music can be considered literature, and lyrics are certainly poetry. Theatre can most certainly be defined as literature. (One word: Shakespeare.)
So what about dance?
Dance combines music and theatre, and certainly dance can tell a story. Think of “The Nutcracker,” or “Giselle” or “The Firebird” for examples of famous stories told via dance.
Webster’s Dictionry defines literature as follows:
1archaic:literary culture2: the production of literary work especially as an occupation3a (1): writings in prose or verse; especially: writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest (2): an example of such writings <what came out, though rarely literature, was always a roaring good story — People> b: the body of written works produced in a particular language, country, or age c: the body of writings on a particular subject <scientific literature> d: printed matter (as leaflets or circulars) <campaign literature>4: the aggregate of a usually specified type of musical compositions