Generally speaking dance is an art form greatly undervalued and misunderstood. Why that is, is somewhat of a mystery but I suppose it could be argued that dance leads to nothing. No real career that is. At best, a dancer will have a trunk full of memories filled with costumes and pictures.
For some reason it appears that dance is something one does when one is little, especially if you are a girl and your parents can afford the lessons, as part of some necessary foundation that at some point loses its glitter. But in many instances children take a hold of the discipline, stick to it, and make something of it.
I can say this with some conviction because I was one of those kids. I took to dance and stuck with it for 25 years. I even got a B.A. degree with a concentration in dance from Sarah Lawrence College.
I stopped dancing about 12 years ago not because I wasn't "successful," because I was, but because I'm interested in everything, and that, combined with my free spirited nature brought opportunities that I took without thinking how it would impact the course of my life.
The first time I realized I wasn't a "dancer" I was in New Orleans on tour doing a theater show. I was in my hotel room in the Prytania Park Hotel practicing lines and all of a sudden I realized it had been about three years since I had taken a dance class.
I didn't feel regret per se, because I knew I was right where I was supposed to be, but it surprised me that it took me so long to feel the absence of a practice that I devoted so much time, energy and discipline to, and that made me sad. Did I not love it? Did I not respect all that it had given me? Would I be able to do it again? Should I purse it again? Did I forget its wisdom? What was dance?
Some answers have come with time. I do love dance. It is a language that I will always understand. And I acknowledge all that it taught me. Especially discipline, staying focus, being on time, being determined, admiring all kinds of bodies, being in my body, figuring out steps, postures, and entire combinations, something that is simultaneously instinctual and not. Much like solving problems in life. Executing those combinations is the realm of dance.
In dance one has nothing but oneself. It is truly a vulnerable place and space to exist in. The body intelligence leads and the physical interpretation appears differently on every individual because dance is affected by a particular person's height, weight, shape, relationship with music, lyricism, rhythm, sensuality, intimacy, and ultimately bravado.
Most people's initial hunch is to think dance is ballet. But with a slight push people understand that dance are endless manifestations of movement against context of culture -- hence American Modern Dance, Tango, Flamenco, African Dance, Indian Classic Dance, Jazz, Swing, Waltz, Hip-Hop, Mambo, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Cha-Cha-Cha, Dance Hall, Folk and anything else I might have left out.
It is a miracle all these forms exists and are performed.
I see it all the time. The unease people get when confronted with the open dance floor at events. The empty space speaks louder than words. The music is happening but no one breaks out. I love the moment of waiting for that brave person that will head out and dance. But the empty space can be a reminder that you can't dance or you want to dance but you fear dancing in front of people. You know that once you are out there that is it. It's just you. Either you're having fun dancing or you're with a self-deprecating mantra about your dancing which stops you from dancing and might even make you ridicule those that are dancing. Or, you might dance but half way. Either way it's a stink because dancing is like going out on a limb.
Fortunately there are a lot of brave people out there and I often see the most fierce and marvelous dancing from "non-dancers." They let it out and dance. Their bodies go for it and it's amazing to see because they break structure and they deliver lyrical expression based on them. Which in the end is what "dance" is, the expression of the body.
Yes dance is technique in the traditional sense. The great figures of dance like Ailey, Balanchine, Cunningham, Diaghilev, Duncan, Dunham, Graham, Limón, Taylor and so on are undoubtedly markers of its history, and a great one.
Yet the magic is, dance is more generous, noble, and expansive. It is in the realm of expansive- ness is that I come to the impactful artistic proposal of long-time dancer Noemí Segarra's, http://http://pisoproyecto.org/.
Piso Proyecto goes out to the world to explore presence. Piso Proyecto is a way of being in the world, informed by dance but not of dance but because of dance.
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