They Dance For Themselves: A Poem Inspired By Nia

Evening in the Gymnasium
by: Alan Robert Proctor

You think the women dance for you, Casanova.
You think the hip-hugging skirts flounce
for you, gyrate for your gaze, sway to tantalize.
You wonder how their abandoned salsa
under darkening skylights could be otherwise.
Arms like river birch in a thunder storm,
hands punch the air. "Ha!" they yell,
and then, "Ha!" again as though scolding
gravity and anyone who dares interrupt.
Shoulders roll against the syrup in the room,
fingers tip a baseball cap, legs shimmy and boogie,
heels thump the drumhead floor, vibrations throb
up hairless shins. But not for your lustful eyes.
They do not dance for you, Casanova. They dance
for themselves. The dance is love, but not for you.
The rippling, ballet-fingered hula, the stooping
to gather water, the gawky shuffle in body tights,
pajama bottoms, scrubs and extra, extra large
T-shirts don't need you. The music loves them.
The music makes each imperfect, beautiful woman
jiggle, bop and just plain stomp in perfect consort
with stars dazzling through skylights,
their ancient reputations stellar and stronger
by light years than yours, Casanova.

A note from Nia co-founder, Debbie Rosas:

You never know how what you’re doing is impacting someone’s life in profound and meaningful ways. I was given this poem at the last Moving to Heal training by a Nia teacher. Unbeknownst to her, Proctor had been watching, as he walked laps around the gym. As you will see, Nia does change people’s bodies and lives, even when they’re not on the dance floor.

Alan Robert Proctor’s poetry and prose have appeared in numerous literary journals. His e-novel, "Adirondack Summer" was released in 2013. His hybrid memoir, "The Sweden File: Memoir of an American Expatriate" was published by Westphalia Press in 2015 and was chosen by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best 100 Indie books of 2015. You can read more of his work at