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Expressionistic painting of a dancing couple.  The woman is wearing a bright red backless dress and seems to be lost in the music.  The man doesn't seem to notice anything around him.  He is looking adoringly at his partner.
**click artwork to enlarge**
(oil painting on canvas, 16X20, 2006)

"The Dance"

I've been drawing dancing couples since I was able to draw a figure (or a version thereof). I still have a bunch of paintings I did as a kid that feature dancers. I can only guess that my interest in dancing started from the stories I've heard from my grandparents. Both sets of my grandparents met on a dance floor and both couples used to win prizes in amateur competitions.

I remember especially well the story of how my paternal grandparents met. It was right after the end of World War II. Ukraine was getting slowly rebuild after the Nazis left it in ruins. Despite the overall devastation the people were elated that the war was over and resumed their normal activities.

My grandmother (Eugenia) and her family were back in Poltava, where they used to live before the war. Her dad who left for the front in the beginning of the war was still listed as missing in action. Evacuated during the German occupation, Eugenia worked 18-hour shifts at an ammunition factory, spending the six hours remaining in the day sleeping on a cement floor by her work station. She came back to her hometown sickly, but full of hope for the bright Socialist future.

One evening Eugenia and a few of her girlfriends decided to go to a dance at the other side of town. Having her teenage years stolen by the war she lied to her mom about where she was going in a subconscious act of rebellion. Once at the dance, my grandma and her friends started doubting their decision to spend the evening there. Young sexually-frustrated veterans (my grandfather being one of them) were swarming around their group. One was particularly persistent and wouldn't leave my grandmother alone. That's when my grandfather asked her for a dance.

She agreed only to escape from the man who was annoying her. "Would you like me to mess him up?" asked my grandpa noticing my grandmother still throwing worried glances at the offender. She was completely appalled at the suggestion and decided to finally take a good look at the person she was dancing with. "I expected to see a bandit," she would tell me at that point in the story. Instead she encountered the smiling gaze of my grandfather's kind brown eyes and met the love of her life. They danced together until the evening was over and kept on dancing and taking first prizes in amateur dance competitions throughout their courtship. They were married within two years and lived happily ever after.

"Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire."
George Bernard Shaw

"Three things can't be hidden: coughing, poverty, and love."
Yiddish proverb

"Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed."
Albert Einstein

"But to see her was to love her, Love but her, and love forever."
Robert Burns