“I always arrive places a bit sweaty,” my friend Caitlin said consolingly, summing up my entire life in New York so far, as I met up with her in front of the Town Hall theater last night, panting and definitely more than a bit sweaty.
I was late as usual, and had emerged from the subway train, bolted through the steamy underground, up the stairs, and–after asking a couple of bored policemen to point me in the right direction–onto the lit up streets of the theater district, making it just in time for the Ira Glass show Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host.
I’ve listened to This American Life occasionally, most often when it happened to be on the radio in the car, so I knew who Ira Glass was, but had no idea what the show was going to be about. The only reason I was going was because Caitlin had an extra ticket which she gave to me for free, and at one point when I was running to the theater wondering if I would even make it on time, I considered just turning around and going home.
But I ran and I made it in time, if a little sweaty. And as soon as I heard Ira Glass’s voice begin the show while the two beautiful dancers, Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass, came onto stage in a flash of confetti, I knew I would not regret my decision.
Earlier, in front of the theater, I had asked Caitlin what exactly we were going to see tonight. Her answer was uncertain: “Like a radio show….with dancing?”
Then, after the first dance number, Ira Glass stood in center stage with a stand and an iPad, and said something along the lines of, “I’m sure you’re all wondering what the hell you’re doing here.” After pausing for laughter he explained that this show was about two completely different things: radio talk shows and dancing.
Image by Julieta Cervantes for the New York Times, from the This American Life Facebook page.
Connecting dance and radio was odd, but it worked because it felt real. It felt as if Ira Glass, the two dancers, and I were the only ones in the room and the entire show–the dancing, the confetti, the stories–were meant for me, to inspire me and to give me hope. After an exhausting day of school work and adviser meetings and running around the city trying to get to places on time, it was exactly what I needed to remind me why I am in New York in the first place.
And I won’t ruin the entire show for you, but Ira Glass doesn’t just stand and talk the whole time. Because a show about combining radio and dance would not be nearly as effective if the radio host didn’t dance.
Read more about Three Acts, Two Dancers, and One Radio Host in this great review from The New Yorker.