Bodies in Motion

Katharine Reece MFA ’12

Bodies in Motion

Dancers hold glasses of liquor like torches in their hands. A couple melds shoulders and thighs at a tiny corner table. Sweat glitters on the foreheads of the band under the dim lights, and they yell at each other in Spanish before entering the opening bars of a Bueno Vista Social Club cover. If we’d chosen to stay home—recumbent on the couch, reading—thousands of people would be upright still, loudly alive, a few of them dancing to the beats of a Latin band in a semi-crowded bar with crimson-tiled ceilings. It’s the cusp of winter on a Thursday night, and this is what it is to live in New York City. This is what it is to disappear into music.

Jules Belmont ’13 is playing his pearl-white chinocaster guitar, and the kid can groove—his shoulders moving to the rhythms created by his expert fingers. On paper, he may be a white Jewish boy from the woods of western Massachusetts, but he opened for Lupe Fiasco twice while touring in high school with a hip-hop band he created, and is well-versed in more dialects of Latin music than you probably knew existed. One of his favorite notions is what Keith Richards calls “marrow music”—music that goes inside your bones, closes your eyes, curls your shoulders in visceral awe.

To watch a musician such as Belmont perform is to know that rapturous, blooming state. Deftly playing this instrument means he must become a vessel for delivering that experience, and forget himself. People move with abandon to these waves of sound, vibrations of air—vibrations his hands set in motion. In classrooms at Sarah Lawrence, Belmont’s teachers would catch his eye and ask him about his music: What does that piece mean? What are you trying to say? This, he would say, this moment.