For the last few years, I have been mad at dance. Recently, though, I used a different phrase. I was finally able to articulate that I am not really mad at dance. I am mad at the consumption of dance.
For me, dance speaks to the human condition. It is a process by which we enter mindfulness and connection with ourselves and others. Yet, the product most readily consumed and now, in my recent experience, most coveted by young dancers/families is the sport of dance.
I get it. Sports do a lot of great things. There are great interpersonal and intrapersonal skills developed there. Physical skills, too. Students are taught at school and many homes that achievement is success. I get all of that.
I am not mad at dance as sport. If that is what you love- love that. I just wish we could call it what it is- dance sport.
I am mad at the illusion that this is what dance should be.
This isn’t a culture. In many instances, it is a numbing. Adrenaline is not an emotion, it is a chemical that provides sensation. It doesn’t provide depth. It doesn’t provide feeling. And we are interacting with dance (and other arts) in ways similar to how we are interacting with other parts of life and we are sharing them with our kids. Success means over-work, over-train, over-caffeinate, over-indulge, over-use. The underlying story is that you are either not enough or you are too much.
If we were truly inviting dancers to move from social and emotional understanding, their gestures wouldn’t all look the same. We, as people, don’t all look the same. Or think the same. Or feel the same.
What are we doing about it?
How do we support kids interfacing with their actual emotions in an appropriate, artistically-based setting? What kind of supplementary experiences are we promoting to help them process who they are as people and then assist them in translating that information into artistry. Or simply character. Personally aware, culturally literate people with empathy, sympathy, compassion, reason, and creativity.
We must be able to articulate if we are able to express. Articulation involves discernment and practice in being present– time and space to feel and be with our feelings. It sounds woo-woo but I find it to be imperative. I can’t change my experience if I don’t fully acknowledge what my experience is.
Isn’t this the art of living? Isn’t this the work of Art?