So, I knew this already, truly, I’m that much of a dorkish digger of obscure factoids. Today’s Daily Beast line up of the famous and their courses of undergraduate study featured the enigmatic Rahm Emanuel and the revelation that the White House Chief of Staff passed up the Joffrey Ballet to study dance at Sarah Lawrence College. I’m a movie nut as well, and The Company featured the breadth of talent and the depth of dedication exhibited by the company at the Joffrey, even though the movie was based on Neve Campbell’s experience with the National Ballet of Canada. In other words, you don’t get into Joffrey without exhibiting serious talent, both current and potential.
Anyway, the point is, Emanuel is a dancer in a nation that tends to produce very few of them among the general male populace. For reasons best known to themselves, American men tend to shun the art form. I read the following in an interesting article I found (out of Chicago), on the subject:
Dance writer Clive Barnes, in a Dance Magazine article on the shortage of male performers more than 10 years ago, wrote: “Most anthropologists would endorse the view that in tribal patterns the men fought, hunted and danced, and the women cooked, reared the children and governed the society. But it was the men who danced.
Now it’s come full circle. Men who dance are more likely to be considered wimps than warriors, no matter how many Mikhail Baryshnikovs or Patrick Swayzes put on tights.
“To stay in dance, a man needs a strong self-image, or he has to be very good. It’s probably much easier for men to be involved in social dance than ballet,” says Davis, who teaches at the No. 1 dance university in the US. An amazing 5,000 students enroll in BYU’s ballet, modern ballroom and folk dance classes every semester.
So what does that say about a guy who studied ballet? A guy who is not as tall as the Commander in Chief though, to be fair, the latter has the sort of stature that is evidenced by more than a measuring tape. Then again, so does Emanuel. To choose the path he did takes, in America, some significant cajones.
After Sarah Lawrence, Emanuel went on to get his Masters in communications at Northwestern University although whether his manner of speech was influenced by his graduate studies is in the process of being evaluated! Here is one of the more polite evaluations of the CoS’s style of communication:
Obama may speak beautifully and inspirationally about hope and change, about bipartisan cooperation and a better America. But he clearly understands that you can’t just sit around talking about all the good things you want to do when you get to the White House and then expect them to happen all by themselves. Which means you can’t hire a staff that’s going to gather at work every day, hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.”
Instead, you bring in a guy like Emanuel, the most hardheaded, no-nonsense, foul-mouthed, smart-as-hell, get-it-done-or-get-out-of-my-way Washington insider of his generation… “Rahm does not sing ‘Kumbaya,’ ” says an old friend and colleague with a laugh. “He barks orders.”
I would wager a guess that those who want to analyze the politics of the man should stop listening to the words, colorful though they may be, and keep an eye on those feet. There is an African proverb that says that those who dance are thought to be insane by those who cannot hear the music and whatever else can be said of him, Rahm Emanuel hears the music.