Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dance is for Every Body

When I write about my own experiences with dance, I write from the perspective of not only a person with a fully functioning, physically healthy body, but also from the perspective of someone with a definite gift for Dance with that capital D.  We all have gifts and this is mine.

But I believe with all of my heart that dance is also for every body.  That we are built to move and we are built to do so in a joyful matter our physical limitations, no matter our age, no matter the concept of "talent."

Our bodies are built to respond to rhythm. Period.

Furthermore, the concept of dance has become too narrow (and far too acrobatic and competitive, as far as I am concerned, thanks to silly shows like So You Think You Can Dance -- to which I say, OF COURSE you can dance because everyone can!).

Dance, at its most basic, is simply your body's unique expression of its unique story through your own unique movement.

As David Leventhal of the Mark Morris Dance Group and of Dance for PD says in a PBS special segment (see below), "Our society tells us again and again that there are people who can dance, and there is everybody else, who shouldn't even bother, and I think that's such a tragedy."

Tragedy indeed.  Especially now that we learn more and more that dance is a key to long term health as it stimulates the brain in a unique way and provides opportunities for social interaction.  Especially now that we learn that movement is the key to healing emotional trauma in a way that talk therapy cannot touch.

I offer here some examples of the Great Work of Dance. First up is a piece about a choreographer's work with a man living with Cerebral Palsy. Second is the piece about dancers working with people living with PD. And third is a piece on Anna Halprin, and for this blogpost, the part I want you to really notice is her work with elderly dancers using rocking chairs (starting at minute 4:25).

(Note: If you are in google reader, all the videos are not showing up for some reason, so please click over to my actual blog to see them.)


Rachel @ Suburban Yogini said...


LauraX said...

You are so right my dear...we all can dance in our own unique is a choice...sometimes the dance is very quiet, soft, subtle, sometimes only in our minds and memories...but who is to say that visualizing our bodies moving on the outside and feeling them move on the inside is not a dance???

Tess said...

Wow Christine, these videos combined with the wisdom of your words are superb! And the transcendent beauty of Anna Halprin's face - wonderful.

It was interesting what someone said in the second video about whether we could measure joy. I do wonder about this human desire to measure and define everything.

Lisa Marie Tsering said...

Here is a dance company from my area (Minneapolis) that is doing great things! Kairos Dance Theatre

Christine Claire Reed said...

Lisa! WOW! THANK YOU for that link! It was EXACTLY the kick in the butt/inspiration I was right this minute needing!

Oh...the butterflies you put in my stomach with that simple gesture of sharing!

Anonymous said...

Terrific post and videos! It is so beautiful and incredible what the human body is capable of, even in a state of "disease."