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Eby 1 Sharlee Eby Cathy Black Dance 261: Orientation to Dance 12 April 2012 Dance in Perspective What is dance?

It is a question that has spanned the ages. Dance is interpretive, elusive, and eternal. It cannot be pinned to a single designation. Through several essential aspects, however, we can define what art and dance are not. Dance, like art, can be defined by acknowledging what it excludes. It is constantly open to elucidationgenerously offering a sacred gift for those exposed to its beauty. Dance is comprised of art and aesthetics as it strives to unite mind, body, and soul. The essence and truth of dance can be revealed when we are able to recognize and distinguish a personal definition of dance and its artist. Richard Kraus, Sarah Chapman Hilsendager, and Brenda Dixon offer a definition of dance in History of the Dance in Art and Education. They believe: Dance is an art performed by individuals or groups of human beings, existing in time, space, force, and flow, in which the human body is the instrument, and movement is the medium. The movement is stylized, and the entire dance work is characterized by form and structure. Dance is commonly performed to musical or other rhythmic accompaniment, and has as a primary purpose the expression of inner feelings and emotions, although it is often performed for social, ritual, entertainment, or other purposes. (24)

Eby 2 This definition offers a valuable foundation of dance. It successfully includes dance fundamentals and expresses the value in the arts ability to convey feelings and meaning through different dance forms. According to Martha Graham and her ideas expressed in I Am a Dancer, dance is first defined by practicethe attribute that allows for a dancer to achieve desirable perfection. The fatigue, training and discipline required from dancers are exceptional. When the movement is mastered, however, it becomes truthfulopenly revealing the soul to any witnesses. This honest exposure declares dance as an eternal art. Graham also exposes dance as a metaphor of life. For example, a dancer vulnerably projects his or her memories, tragedies, bitterness, and sweetness of living through performing and creating. He or she ventures into the unknown and flirts with untouched boundaries because these things make up the framework of a dancers craft. Dance is the eternal pulse of life that springs from desire where [the] body says what words cannot (Graham 118). Dance is about living, feeling, and being reborn to the instant. Once one can live in the present moment they gain power to unleash the past. A dancer repeatedly returns to the studio to once again submit their being to the instant, where they are born as one. I especially agree with Graham when she describes the willingness a dancer must possess to be vulnerable. This is essential for a movement artist. The simple act of walking on stage symbolizes a dancers submission to expose their soul. By lowering all defenses the artist invigorates the body, liberates the soul, and offers an endowment for those willing to receive it. I have felt this. I have experienced it. It distinguishes the artist from the technician. Dance is not defined by movement, but rather flickering moments of underlying passion. As a movement artist, I have come to discover that dance is in fact a part of who I am. I cannot separate who I am and how I move. They are congruous. Mind, body, and spirit must be aligned in order to fully express honest emotion. This includes possessing the ability to

Eby 3 understand ones self. Dance uniquely reveals something about a person as they experience its invigorating sensation. As we dance, we learn. Not only about how to improve our facilities, but we are also exposed to personal revelations. Bob Fosse offers a similar perspective: Movementoffers to us individually the possibility of shaping and reshaping our physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual lives. What a gift, what a revelation, what a responsibility. Dance is an important aspect that should be available for all to experience. Whether an audience member partakes of its splendor or a dancer develops a greater understanding of themselves through vulnerable submission to the movement, it is an art capable of changing and improving lives. Dance has a special role to play in the education of the whole man (Winterton 3). Dance has a beautiful capability to envelop all surrounding it. Its influence and message should peacefully reveal the human condition, confronting sting while enabling all to yield to their kindled desires to initiate transformation. Physical aspects are also essential for dance. Technique and training are vital. They beautifully enhance the desired message while maintaining its purity. Dance science and somatics are portions in this physical area. Dance science includes the quantitative paradigms of sports medicine and orthopedics, while somatics focuses on the qualitative patterns of mind-body unity. Because each movement in dance elucidates a new voice, understanding these assisting mechanisms is essential for a well-rounded dancer. Together, these fundamentals allow a dancer to create and invent fresh, more efficient ways of moving, while preserving the expressiveness and aesthetics of a dancers craft. A dancers technique consists of the ability to merge dance science and art. When this is successfully accomplished, dance science becomes accessible, real, and in service to the aesthetic (Batson 68). Somatics applies central focus on sensory awareness. In contrast, movement is dances essential element. However, when a dancer is able

Eby 4 to properly apply somatics, he or she can cultivate the optimal use of selfconnecting body, mind, and spirit. This awareness enhances a dancers competency of motion and ability to efficiently utilize their expressive instrument. It is necessary for dancers to understand what technique encompasses. Dancers can easily obsess over the formative aspect of dance. This knowledge generates a precise execution of sterile positions. A dancer masters movement art, however, when they can view technique as framework that guides expression rather than the essence of expression. It is a sensory awareness of subtle movements and their underlying mechanics that are then transformed into art for external sources. When all these things are united, a rich incident is offered to the audiencean aesthetic experience. During a personal interview with Pat Debenham, a dance professor at Brigham Young University, he provided his definition of an aesthetic experience. He said: When we move beyond our current state and we feel something different about the worldit takes a moment in time, opens space around it, touches our spirits, it reaches us. It moves inside to understand something new, an arrested moment in time that lets me know Im different than before. Dance is an art form that enables opportunities for aesthetic experiences. Aesthetic moments are sacred and individualistic. Each audience member may be subject to experiencing diverse messages and cries for change. Therein lays the beauty and value of dance. These aesthetic experiences cannot be traded or manufactured. They are unique and help develop a person into who they are or want to become. Aesthetic experiences are powerful. They may occur while at the moment of observation. Yet, they also contain the liberty to arrive during reflection of a previous experience. Dance artistically manipulates these arrested moments in time causing an ultimate desire to initiate transformation. Dancers, choreographers, and teachers bear a vast

Eby 5 responsibility to allow for such instants to occur. Choreographers must provide opportunity for the audience to find this moment as they witness their piece. Dancers must be able to project a desired message by connecting to it and vulnerably offering themselves to the audience. Teachers must be able to articulate the importance of artistry and full-body experience. They are obliged to coach their students to discover ways of expressing emotion through dance. They take on the endearing accountability to be an educator. This encompasses much more than concern for apposite technique. It extends to the boundaries of creating a better person. Dance is the key thread in my tapestry of life. Without its enabling power, I would not exist as the person I am. I have learned to fuse and eliminate the boundaries that often estrange subject mattersdance reveals science, religion, and art. In return, knowledge in these areas aid in the quest to better understand dance. Until the 17th century, art referred to any mastery. It was not differentiated from crafts or sciences. Dance is an art. If we can gain perspective and perceive the value in weaving all aspects of our world together, we become God-like. God knows all. He acknowledges and is a master in every category. We are instructed to become like him. As we learn to fuse our knowledge and find aligning principles we will be able to extend our capabilities. Not only will our general knowledge become more extensive, but we will also find that we are improving ourselves more rapidly and efficiently. Things become comprehendible and life is put into an eternal perspective. Likewise, fusing knowledge and dance will enhance our message. The act of combining knowledge facilitates valuable wealth. Like breath, dance sustains mekeeping me inseparably connected to my surrounding world. It is a service that allows me to open myself to others in hope they might discover something about themselves. In The Best of Oprahs What I Know For Sure, Oprah Winfrey states:

Eby 6 Passion whispers to you through your feelings, beckoning you toward your highest goodDo what you love, give it back in the form of service, and you will do more than succeed. You will triumph!" As a movement artist, I value this idea and the responsibility I holdthe service I render. Dance is a symbolic art, implicitly speaking a message to the people. This message is hidden beneath layers of aesthetically pleasing movement. True art (conveyed through a dance form) should leave the audience with a question. Dance should contain elements of entertainment as well as abstract expression. We have an incredible opportunity to express powerful messagesones that impact the world. When we can connect to the public we magnify our abilities to do this. We should also recognize that we cannot create the art of dance unless we understand the science. We cannot fully facilitate our bodies without grasping a full understanding of its capabilities. In essence, science is required to create art. Art is found within science. Science incorporates the necessity for technique. Technique should frame the art, an extra aspect accentuating the message. One has the capacity to enhance an audiences experience through the understanding of their body. A great technician possesses the ability to present the audience with a well defined and powerful gift. When a dancer is able to blur the technique and emotion into one beautiful message, the audiences aesthetic experience enhances. Movement offers a beacon of light and hope to all participants. Dance reveals the human condition. That human condition encompasses a gamut of emotions from grief to bliss. Dance cannot lack hopeful glimmers. Without recognition and desire to change, it deteriorates into a stagnant message. Dance envelops all elements pertaining to our existence. It should assume the role of an instrument destined to carry a pure message. It communicates soul to soula transcending language inevitably understood by all humankind.

Eby 7 Works Cited Batson, Glenna Dancers Tools for Performance; What Dance Science and Somatics can do for a Dancer. Dancer Teacher Magazine. (1998): 65-69. Print. Debenham, Pat. Personal Interview. 9 Mar. 2012 Kyla. Dance and Religion Presentation. Brigham Young University. 257 Richards Building. 9 Apr. 2012. Graham, Martha. Blood Memory. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc, 1991. Kraus, R., Hilsendager, S. C., Dixon, B. History of the Dance in Art and Education 2nd ed. New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1981. Winfrey, Oprah. The Best of Oprahs What I Know For Sure. Oprah Magazine. (2005): Print Winterton, Dee. A Few Thoughts on Dance. Orientation to Dance Packet. (1981): 3. Print