She was dancing for herself…

This excerpt from Zelda by Nancy Milford, ©1970, describes an incident that took place when she was in her mid-twenties, before mental illness consumed her life.  She must have been quite a force of nature:

When Zelda indulged in high jinks that summer there was a quality about the performance that was striking; she seemed unconcerned about the presence of others and that gave her actions an unforgettable touch.  One evening the Murphys and the Fitzgeralds were sitting at a table in the Casino at Juan-les-Pins.  It was very late and nearly everyone had gone home.  Zelda rose from the table and raising her skirts above her waist began to dance.  Motionless, Scott sat watching her.  When the orchestra caught on it played to her.  At first the Murphys were startled, and then, Gerald said, “I remember it was perfect music for her to dance to and soon the Frenchmen who were left gathered about the archways leading to the small dance area near our table gaped at her– they expected to see a show, something spectacular.  Well, it was spectacular, but not at all in the way they had expected it to be.  She was dancing for herself; she didn’t look left or right, or catch anyone’s eyes.  She looked at no one, not once, not even at Scott.  I saw a mass of lace ruffles as she whirled– I’ll never forget it.  We were frozen.  She had the tremendous natural dignity.  She was so self-possessed, so absorbed in her dance.  Somehow she was incapable of doing anything unladylike.”

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2 thoughts on “She was dancing for herself…

  1. …if I could either sing or dance (daresay, perhaps if I could do both..?) I would leave people with this impression of my personality as well..!

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