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All of us, if we are honest, believe deep down that we are not ordinary. And perhaps dance is how we choose to remember, how we hold on to the past.We know ourselves to be wonderfully unique, with many layers of personality and talent woven in such a way that no one on earth could possibly have our same make-up. It is how we relive the fun-filled days of our youth or the time we looked in their eyes and knew they were the one.In the first story ‘Dirty Dancing’ he mentions how he is called ‘Baby’ and his parents only recognise him as an adult when he dirty dances at the airport when they come and pick him up.
‘Dinner with my brother’ slips sideways into a discussion of Chinese names where Cho concludes that if patchy employment history has a name, it’s Tom Cho.
This self reference is one example of how Cho inserts himself into the text.
Why do we put ourselves through the physical fatigue and the occasional social awkwardness just to call ourselves dancers? We cannot seem to explain it, yet we all know it so well that we do not hesitate to tap our feet to a Gershwin melody or pulse with the percussion of a samba rhythm. Perhaps dance is the way we express ourselves when words are insufficient.
We dance for emotional stability, and other such pluses.
‘Dinner with my grandmother’ includes the traditional meme of learning the language of cultural origin along with smoking cigars and drinking brandy.
Naming is an important literary device in Cho’s stories; it undermines the status quo and gives humour – like his grandmother being called Bruce.The series of short stories incorporates the fantastic with the real, where, with sardonic humour, characters turn into machines and celebrities, and the narrator is turned into Godzilla and a giant cock rock god.The book provides no easy answers but it leads the reader to question the societal assumptions about race, gender and identity.As a choreographer and writer (though I confess I am far more comfortable to claim the former than the latter), I get asked to share my opinion about a myriad of dance related topics from the practical: That’s it. What is it about moving our bodies to a song we love that is so joyfully Pavlovian? However, all these benefits could be attained by others means, though I confess I have yet to find a better alternative than a great cha cha to lift both one’s heart-rate and spirits.Why do we watch videos, obsess over our reflection in the kitchen window, and yes, take lessons to perfect something that could easily be labeled as trivial? Still, we do not need to dance to acquire a sound mind and body. There must be something glorious about dancing that is more than just intangible; it must be almost imperceptible.The humour in the book references pop culture from the 80s onwards, from Sweet Valley High books to David Hasselhof and Godzilla.The stories also question notions of identity, touching on ethnicity, family and gender and their interaction with popular culture.Using his own image on the cover, Cho playfully inserts himself in the narrative as an autobiographical figure inviting the reader to suspend disbelief and doing away with the invisible fourth wall between reader and writer.The reader is invited to interpret the stories in a self reflexive way, with Cho being the protagonist of the short stories.Share this article with a friend who you think could benefit from learning to dance!is a series of humorous short fiction stories, playing with issues of identity and pop culture.