What Is Dance?

352 words | 2 page(s)

In most of these quotes there is imagery of the idea that dance is a way to express what is or might be otherwise inexpressible. Where the human body becomes a vessel through which beauty, love, dreams etc. can be demonstrated to an audience. Charles Weidman’s quote about the artist as bearer of a message is so interesting and inspiring to me as it urges me to think about what I am being told when I look at something or what I might want to tell when I create something.

There are also lots of ideas in these quotes about the technical nature of dance that is dissimilar to that of other artistic disciplines. The element, for example, of rhythm, is a very important one that distinguishes dance from, say, painting. Some might say that they can see rhythm or music in a painting but dance is a literal expression of rhythm using the body. It is a way to express the feeling of the music in the most primal, urgent way.

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Some of the people quoted, however, differ in their ideas about dance slightly, placing it more readily in the realm of “entertainment” than in that of a higher artistic expression. Alvin Ailey believes that it is entertainment, but also “meaningful”.

I think the quote that I like most is, as I mentioned at the start, the one by Charles Weidman. Weidman was very interested in gravity and how it affected the body during performance. He was a pioneer of modern dance style and practically invented that very famous “falling” motion that you see a lot in much contemporary artistic dance performance. He talks about the “progressive unfolding of the body as an impulse flows from joint to joint,” (Nicolais, 1990) as a way to describe his technique.

  • Dils, A., and Cooper, A. (2001). Moving history/dancing cultures: A dance history reader. Middletown, CT: Waleyan University Press.
  • Lihs, H. (2002). Appreciating dance: A guide to the world’s liveliest art. 3rd Ed. Highstown, NJ: Princeton Book Co.
  • Nikolais, Alwin. (1990) Charles Weidman, On His Own. Prod. Janet Mendelshon and Virginia Brooks. DanceHorizons Video.

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