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Short story in anthology. Not a movie. She develops dances that can only be performed in space.

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    Hi, welcome to the site. In roughly which year did you read this, and when do you think it might've been published? Also, if you recall any other details about the story, please edit your question to add them in. The more info you can provide, the better. Jan 5, 2023 at 5:45
  • Thanks. I did get several answers. It’s called Stardance. I’m not sure if this is the right forum for this but I’d like to recommend to this site watching a PBS program called “First Contact: An Alien Encounter “. It’s a fictional story about what would happen today if SETI received an alien signal. As the program went on, I was reminded of many sci-fi movies/ books that were about the same issue. When they discuss the difficulties in understanding the content of the signal, I thought of “Arrival” the movie and the linguists called in. Watch it. See what you think. Jan 7, 2023 at 14:29
  • And the program suggested flights of comedy. At one point an alien artifact zooms through the solar system and the scientists are baffled why. I immediately thought of Hitchhikers Guide and thought the artifact was a survey ship plotting out the dimensions of the galactic freeway that would eventually demolish earth. Jan 7, 2023 at 14:39

1 Answer 1

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Stardance by Jeanne Robinson and Spider Robinson. It was originally a novella and was then expanded to a full novel also called Stardance.

Stardance

Shara Drummond was a gifted dancer and a brilliant choreographer, but could not pursue her dream of dancing on the Earth, so she went to space, creating a new art form in three dimensions. Then the aliens arrived, and there was only one way to prove that the human race deserved not just to survive, but to reach the stars. The only hope was Shara, with her stardance.

I have the story in a Hugo Awards collection, though in fact I remembered it from Mike Ashley's book The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines 1970 to 1980, where he says:

Hot on its heels came another novella, ‘Stardance’ (March 1977), created with his wife Jeanne Robinson, a professional dancer. She had developed the concept of a zero-gee dance and in the story this allows a disabled dancer not only to express herself but to communicate with an angelic alien race. This beautiful story ran away with all the top awards, leading to the fuller story in ‘Stardance II’ (September–November 1978) and the subsequent trilogy of books.

In 1980 Jeanne Robinson was invited by NASA to perform her zero-gee dance in space, an opportunity lost when the Challenger disaster curtailed the Civilians-in-Space programme.

Later

On rereading the story I find I had slightly misremembered it. The dancer Shara is not disabled, though she is too tall to find a job with a dancing company. She has a male friend Charlie (Charles Armstead) who videos her dances, and Charlie is disabled after being shot in the hip by a robber. The story ends with Shara telling Charlie he can dance again in zero G:

“About you, Charlie. You’re going to dance again.”

Oxygen starvation, I thought. But she can’t be that low on air already. “Okay. Sure thing.”

“For God’s sake stop humoring me - I’m straight, I tell you. You’d have seen it yourself if you weren’t so damned stupid. Don’t you understand? There’s nothing wrong with your leg in free fall!”

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    I totally agree, but she wasn't disabled. She had a "womanly" body, and the current dance movement required slim, almost androgynous dancers. The second book in the "Stardance" trilogy (Starseed) has a dancer who has had to give up dancing on Earth, due to back and knee injuries.
    – sueelleker
    Jan 5, 2023 at 11:03
  • @sueelleker ah, yes, thanks :-) Jan 5, 2023 at 11:26
  • I think you've hit the right story; it sounds like the OP was conflating Shara and Charlie; easy enough to do -- they are written to have the same issue (unable to dance professionally) from different causes (she's too for from the 'standard'; he was injured), and to initially address it differently, but later end at the same resolution (space, and what they find there.)
    – K-H-W
    Jan 6, 2023 at 3:51

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