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A family built on the dance floor: Reflections from a father and daughter

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for StoryCorps - today, a family that shares a love of dance. Carl Levine and his daughter Chloe are both contra dancers. It's a folk dance that's similar to square dancing. At StoryCorps, Carl told Chloe that their family's tradition of contra dancing goes back more than 40 years when Carl was at a low point in his life.

CARL LEVINE: After my first wife left me, I was alone and miserable and looking for someplace to go. I felt shy and socially awkward, but once I went to a contra dance, I was actually dancing six nights a week. There's probably nowhere where I'm less shy than at a dance. And I met your mom through the dance world. I remember, Chloe, when you were 2 years old, and you lined up your stuffed animals so they'd be ready to dance.

CHLOE LEVINE: Is that true?

CARL LEVINE: At home...

CHLOE LEVINE: OK.

CARL LEVINE: ...I remember this distinctly. And I remember your going to your first ball when you were 8 or 9.

CHLOE LEVINE: There is a picture of us, and you and mom are, like, posing so beautifully in your finery. And I would not stop moving.

CARL LEVINE: You did half the dance and then went to sleep on a blanket in the back of the room.

CHLOE LEVINE: You know, when I was in school, I didn't go to dances. But this fall, I had just graduated college. I'd just gotten out of a pretty serious relationship. I did not have a job. But this dance that happens twice a month, I was like, you know what? This is a thing that I can put on my calendar. It felt like that was the important first step in being able to figure everything else out.

CARL LEVINE: I'm most concerned that you be happy and fulfilled, but I'm also happy that I was able to give you something that helped do those things. I love dancing with you, Chloe, maybe especially because you're my daughter but also because you're such a marvelous and beautiful dancer.

CHLOE LEVINE: I have such a sense memory of what dancing with you is. It feels like if I were to ask you, what are your memories of drinking a morning coffee? It's just, like, a thing that you do so many times it just sort of is.

CARL LEVINE: You're one of my favorite partners.

CHLOE LEVINE: You are also one of my favorite partners.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: That was Carl and Chloe Levine. Chloe now lives in Boston, while her parents still live in New York City, but they still make time to dance together. This conversation is archived at the Library of Congress.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Barry Gordemer is an award-winning producer, editor, and director for NPR's Morning Edition. He's helped produce and direct NPR coverage of two Persian Gulf wars, eight presidential elections, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and hurricanes Katrina and Harvey. He's also produced numerous profiles of actors, musicians, and writers.
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