Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Why Do We Dance?

This is a question that was asked by our company director yesterday in rehearsal, and it is very thought-provoking. I have found that since I've been dancing for so long, I often forget why I dance and I just go through the steps because it has become habit. This is something that you should always avoid, and if it does happen from time to time, constantly remind yourself that you are doing this for a reason. Donald made a good point in asking why we come to the studio everyday and work so hard to get better in class and rehearsal. We wouldn't be putting in all this effort if we didn't care about dancing and didn't feel like doing it. Yet sometimes the inspiration and the meaning of it is lost.

I always apply dance to life because for some of us, these two things are one and the same. This is a perfect example because this happens in our lives all the time. We may go through the motions of daily life without purpose or meaning, we may take the little things for granted, and we may forget who we really are. Life is too short to waste a single moment. Recent events in my family have renewed my motivation for purpose, meaning, mindfulness, passion, and gratitude in my daily life and in my dancing. I want to try harder to live my life to the fullest while I am still young and healthy, then continue that practice throughout the rest of my life. A lot of times it takes a tragedy or something out of the ordinary to jolt someone awake from the mindless, auto-pilot existence that they were living, but you don't need something bad to happen to make you appreciate your life. I think of three things that I'm grateful for when I wake up and before I go to bed. I also try to savor every single experience, even if it's something like driving to dance class.

Even if you don't know your purpose in life yet, just the fact that you are searching gives meaning to your life.  It's the same with dance because you may not know where it will take you or what kind of dance career you're going to have, but if you know why you dance, that is enough. Dance without meaning is just exercise. A great artist puts their heart and soul into every movement and understands why they are doing that movement. For example, during rehearsal Donald wasn't seeing the emotion and the story behind the piece we were doing, he just saw the correct steps. Why would an audience want to pay to see that? He said, "You have to change the room." As in, you have to be so invested in what you're doing that everyone stops and becomes transfixed by you. When you're performing a piece, think about what the choreographer was trying to convey and the relationship between you and the other dancers. If you don't portray that meaning, then what is the point of performing the dance? Dance is a way for dancers and choreographers to express an emotion or idea, so our job as dancers is to show that through movement and intention.

This week in class we have modern/contemporary, and right from day 1 our teacher has been pushing us to our limits. I believe that this is one of the many reasons why we dance; to see how far we can stretch our bodies and our minds. After one of the exercises she told us that we were holding back and she said, "There is so much space that your bodies haven't experienced!" Dancing is like exploring; even if you're in class and there's no story or emotion, there is still a meaning. We are exploring how our bodies can move in space and how far they can go. She also told us, "Modern is about being daring and pushing boundaries." This comment was made about a simple step forward that was not bold enough. So, even walking has to have a purpose. Last week at the end of our class with Milton Myers, he summed up what I'm writing about. He told us that dance and life are the same, and we use dance as a means for life. Most importantly, we are so lucky to have found dance.

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