New Orleans Finds Its Dancing Shoes

“Call it the original populist movement: dancing for the people and by the people, all different people. Cross-cultural boogieing — that was this city’s first contribution to the national identity.” But somewhere between the Louisiana Purchase and the modern era, New Orleans lost its claim to being one of America’s centers of the arts. Still, the evidence of the Crescent City’s dance roots is everywhere, and the idea of dance as an art of the people, rather than an elite craft, is central to the heritage. “The people of [19th-century] New Orleans were multicultural in a meaningful way, mixing blood and traditions to make new and vital arts. Perhaps that is a model to revitalize dance today.”