Friday, February 19, 2016

What is your dance for?

Coming out of PantheaCon this weekend, being on tour and performing for two weeks, and months of contemplation about the place of dance currently in my life (+ discussions with friends feeling in the same place), I feel like I've reached some clarity.  There's nothing quite like teaching movement to a wide variety of very different people who find something new in it - and in their discoveries, I find my own root.

Dance is a tool, a gateway, a journey, a method. Solely unto itself, it is a means to connect the body and mind.  It is a neutral element.  But how you use and apply it can lead to healing or hurting - of both body and mind.

You can build up self-esteem and confidence, repair and reclaim your body, find a new form of expression, and make new connections with others - and yourself.  It can empower you, invigorate you, challenge you, guide you to overcome obstacles, and help foster growth on a multitude of levels.

Or it can be used to build Ego, to hide insecurities and shortfallings, viewed as a means to an end versus as a continual process, and overworked to harm the body.  It can be used to exploit, to separate, and to exclude. In excess the body could exceed the mind, or vice versa causing real damage to both.

For years, I have challenged my students to consider why they dance before they perform it. If performing is a dialogue between you and the audience, it makes a difference if you know what you're going to say and why.  But even if you're not performing, I believe it's important to think about why you dance.

When it comes to dancing, I don't care how young or old you are, how large or small, which gender or sexuality you identify as, what your origins are, how long you've been studying the dance, what style you dance, or how well-known or "famous" you are or aren't.

I care that you come to the dance sincerely, foster it as best as you can, and support others.

I care that you are kind to yourself and to others, regardless of all of the separations, groupings, and labels.

I care that you don't put unrealistic limitations on yourself or others because of age, weight, shape, style, or gender.

I care that you want to learn, grow, and share - and I am honored to be part of such a journey with any dancer.

If you're in this dance solely for "fortune and fame," to build a following for your ego, to use and exploit others so you can feel powerful or pretty or pretend to be superior, I don't have the time, space or energy for you.  And I won't make the room for you anymore.

My dance connects my body and spirit, and in turn allows me to share that unity with others in a way that is different than how I express with my art or my words. It's that wordless experience that goes beyond style, technique, costuming, physical shapes, or branding. It's what drew me here in the first place, and it's the connecting with others - through both performance and instruction that makes dance important in my life.

Why do I dance? I dance because I'm interested and invested in the beautiful unknown that happens in the space between my own dance connection and yours - and the world of discovery within and beyond that space, manifested through culture, music, spirit, and understanding.

Blessings on your dance journey.