MUSING: So You Think You Don't Know Anything About Dance
In the interest of streamlining my dual interests of dance and writing, I've relocated my blog to my personal website. I started it five years ago to practice the art of dance criticism. Over the last few years, it hasn't been much more than a dumping ground for my professional reviews and previews. I hope to change that with the occasional post dedicated to my I-don't-know-what-yet musings.
To kick off my blog's revival, I'm revisiting something I wrote five years ago about how there's no need to know anything about dance to like it. I rewrote it since I'm a better writer now, thanks to practice, practice. The sentiment, though, stands. You really don't need to know anything about dance to read about it, watch it, or even practice it.
Without further ado, So You Think You Don't Know Anything About Dance
When I tell you I write about dance (and am lucky to get paid to do so), you think it’s cool. But will you read what I’ve written? Probably not. Because you think you don’t know anything about dancing.
But you don’t need to know anything about dancing to read, to understand, to appreciate. We’re all know-it-alls about things that we know nothing about.
What makes dancing different than reading a movie review or an analysis of a pop album? Is it the esoteric combination of shape, sound, and aesthetics? Is it because dancing requires a public commitment of time and money that can’t easily be recouped if you don’t like it? Do you instinctively believe Curt Sachs' assertion, “Dance, in its essence, is simply life on a higher level”? Perhaps you’re worried you won’t get it.
Who knows? Frankly, who cares?
This is the truth: You know more than you think you do. Trust your instinct. You have the same tool a dancer has — a body. You use it every day. Efficiently. Effectively. More gracefully than you realize.
Rudolf Laban defined eight basic movements: floating, gliding, punching, slashing, dabbing, wringing, flicking, and pressing.
Ponder those for a moment. What action do you use when you dial a phone number? When you hail a cab? Pull on a pair of pants?
That’s right. You dance every day!
Dance is many things. Sometimes it’s pretty. Sometimes it’s ugly. Sometimes it’s thought-provoking. Sometimes it’s endless. Sometimes it's all that and more. Whatever you think, it’s legitimate. Even if you’re wrong, you’re right. Because it is art, which is subjective. Your beautiful is my hideous, and your consequential is my silly. The real truth? Well, that exists in the witnessing.
So don’t sweat it. Let it wash over you. Or watch it intently. Count the number of turns they do. Marvel at how high they jump. Or don’t. The point is that there doesn’t have to be a point. Dancing, like living, is a verb. Just participate. In whatever way that makes sense to you.
Here’s the deal: Dance needs you! Attend our shows, read our musings, come to our Swing classes. What we do is ephemeral. If you don’t see dance, then it doesn’t exist.
It will only enrich your life.