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I cannot dance opon my toes

“I cannot dance opon my Toes – ” Emily Dickinson writes, “No Man instructed me.” Still, Dickinson makes the white page of the poem her performance space. This episode’s ensemble of interpreters not only discuss–they also act, play, and dance–their interpretations of Dickinson’s ravishing ballet-themed poem.  Join actor Cynthia Nixon, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, dancer and choreographer Jill Johnson, and poet Marie Howe in an exploration of the challenges of art, and the price of audience, across time, space, and artistic medium.

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Read the Poem

I cannot dance opon my toes

by Emily Dickinson

I cannot dance opon my Toes –
No Man instructed me –
But oftentimes, among my mind
A Glee possesseth me
That had I Ballet – knowledge –
Would put itself abroad
In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe –
Or lay a Prima – mad –

And though I had no Gown of Gauze –
No Ringlet, to my Hair –
Nor hopped to Audiences – like Birds –
One Claw opon the Air –
Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls –
Nor rolled on Wheels of Snow
Till I was out of sight in sound –
The House encore me so –

Nor any know I know the Art
I mention easy – Here –
Nor any Placard boast me
It’s full as Opera –

 

Text from Franklin 381A

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I cannot dance opon my Toes –
No Man instructed me –
But oftentimes, among my mind
A Glee possesseth me
That had I Ballet – knowledge –
Would put itself abroad
In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe –
Or lay a Prima – mad –

And though I had no Gown of Gauze –
No Ringlet, to my Hair –
Nor hopped to Audiences – like Birds –
One Claw opon the Air –
Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls –
Nor rolled on Wheels of Snow
Till I was out of sight in sound –
The House encore me so –

Nor any know I know the Art
I mention easy – Here –
Nor any Placard boast me
It’s full as Opera –

 

Text from Franklin 381A

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