'As the waltz changed into whirling, emotions denied for so long found release. She felt like a trapeze artist working the high wire with a safety net.' p18
'Waiting for the kettle to boil, Cassie improvised a dance motif. It felt good to express herself in that way again. She realised that dance had been an anchor in her life. Its loss had definitely added to her suffering over the break-up with Jake.' p124
Cassie's return to a sense of completeness and recovery from emotional shutdown is traced, in part, through the metaphoric use of dance as a ritual form of connection in 'In and Out of Step'.
Likewise, John Proctor's personal metaphoric journey in Miller's 'The Crucible' also involved a reclaiming of aspects of self lost because of his adulterous affair with Abigail Williams.
Belonging is very much a shared experience. The text below explicitly draws attention to the bond between characters as well as the isolation and lack of direction a person feels when not part of the shared experience.
'Music, a Tom Jones’ oldie, drew Cassie to the lounge room. Minna stretched her back after pushing the armchairs closer to the walls. George rolled up the rug. That done, they dragged it to the windows. With a courtly air, George extended his hand to Minna. They stepped onto their homemade dance floor. Watching them, Cassie realised she really missed the ballroom dancing scene. Again, she saw the drift of her life since she had cut dance out.' p131
In the excerpt below, dance as a representation of shared experience, depicting a state of harmony and union, is achieved through the language of music and the codes of interaction embedded in choreography. Cassie recognises that, in dance, the union of two people can also involve a primal response, a sensuous pleasure that brings them closer when the codes of the dance are known.
'To Cassie, any choreography that allowed two people to become one, through the fluid movement of the dance, was beauty in motion. She was struck by the primitive element in the beat, and the sensual heat between Michael and his partner. He was the stronger of the two dancers but lacked Jake’s flair. Michael was good but not great. As for Kate, she was definitely an exhibitionist.' p140
Dance as a representation of the bonds between people is also depicted in the dance scenes throughout 'In and Out of Step'. At times, those bonds have a discordant quality as in the Apaché dance scene (page 343). At other times, dance is used to metaphorically represent the positive nature of those bonds.
'Marvin Gaye’s, I Heard It Through the Grapevine signalled The Merrilyn. Although Cassie loved this New Vogue slow foxtrot, she chose to sit it out and watch. It was always hard to dance with other partners after Michael. She liked the limited dance prescription to footwork, alignments and holds because it left scope for dancers to add their own expression through shaping and styling.
For Cassie, the dance was a love story between equals. She liked the intimacy and romance in the synchronised turns, the breakaway, and return. As a couple, they had beautiful body flight. Cassie envied their freedom and longed for the familiarity they had with other dancers in the studio who ceased to treat them as a floorshow. Overall, she thought theirs was an elegant hypnotic performance.' page 226
Natural harmony, equality and fraternity, joy, balance, and acceptance are aspects of the bonds depicted through dance in the above scene.
In the next example, Cassie is an outsider at Keimera dance studio and again in the role of observer. In order to belong to the group and join in the dance, she had to decode the language governing the dance and identify the 'codes' that controlled interaction.
'The studio floor was alive with dancers. They were involved in a progressive, changing partner at some unseen signal that only those initiated into the studio’s secrets recognised. Cassie had never seen it done with a Latin American dance before. She concentrated on the dancers trying to understand how it worked. This was not a simple case of the man leading. A group mentality seemed to be operating, and it was linked to the rhythm.' p215
Belonging is expressed through 'the floor was alive with dancers'; the reference to the dancers being initiated into the codes of dance; the sense of pleasure, reciprocation, and playful harmony between the dancers. The idea of belonging is also evoked in the next excerpt through the ritual of dance as a form of connection and nonverbal communication in an inarticulate community.
'The set was wild and lusty yet even graceless dancers observed the boundaries of its code. As Cassie was swung off her feet by one man and then another, she realised that the energy and emotion was a means of expression usually denied everyday people; in an inarticulate population, music and dance said what words could not.' p316
The above text empathizes there is communication through physical contact and a sense of belonging through following dance codes of interaction and being attuned to the mood of the dance/interaction. In this dance scene, the notion of belonging is represented metaphorically as a lusty/sensuous pleasure stemming from participants being in step with and attuned to one another and in time and attuned to the music. The last sentence also comments on the isolation people feel when they lack the ability to connect through the language of everyday life.
Cassie's quest to find her place in the sexually liberated world of the late 1980s brings her into conflict with 'proposals' by male characters that challenge her values. The following quote illustrates
the subjective nature of belongingand the conflict that can arise from her acceptance of values transmitted by her parents - a generational clash.
'Cassie did not want to be a servile person with pre-sixties values. She did not think she was a prude though Coachman said she was. How could anyone confuse flattering attention with being groped? This was a dance she had to work out before she could manage the steps.' p145
Ritual as a form of connection is also explored from a different perspective and represented in a different form in the scenes dealing with Selton and Van der Huffen when they assume their HG and Roy persona in order to parody school life and the power play within in.