“Dance of the Heart” is a quick-read novel of only 118 pages, however, there is so much more to this story than one would expect. First of all, Therrian does a fantastic job of setting up the scenes, the characters, and the beginning. It was very clear to me who the characters were and what role they played.
Michael Baldwin is successful and flourishing. He is well-balanced in his career as a successful professional dancer and home life with a longtime partner, David. And, they just built a beautiful home on Lake Michigan. All goes well until his lead partner, who is morbidly disliked, accidentally dies.
Michael has mixed emotions over her death but even more so, mixed emotions when a new dance partner, Elizabeth, replaces Margo, the dead lead. Michael, acknowledging being gay from as long as he can remember, is extremely attracted to Elizabeth. The drama continues as Michael struggles with his emotions and ultimately discloses his feelings to his partner David.
Of course, David, as any partner would be, is crushed and reacts accordingly. In the meantime, Elizabeth, being only a temporary replacement for Margo, returns to her home. Michael, with all intentions in place, was going to tell Elizabeth how he felt, however, she left before he was able to do so. This results in more mixed emotions for Michael.
“Dance of the Heart” is appropriately named, because there certainly is a lot of heart dancing in the book. Does Michael ever tell Elizabeth how he feels? Can a gay man actually fall in love with a woman? Was Michael’s infatuation with Elizabeth real or a fantasy? Does David move on to other lovers?
What a wonderful story! “Dance of the Heart” is an account that proves how complicated love can be. Therrian’s story shows how we, as human beings, can spin ourselves into a hole of confusion when we don’t follow our true feelings. Michael’s mother, Sally, summed it up best by saying “You can’t choose who you fall in love with, but you can choose what you do with it. In the end, it’s all up to you.”