When I dance, I forget the day’s work. There are only plies, leaps, a lifting of the core muscles, and the discipline to to make it look effortless. I dance for catharsis, for pleasure, for joy, and in times of sorrow. I dance to shrug off stress, to push problems aside so I can approach them with a clearer, post-dance head, and for my own physical well-being. Dance allows you to live in the moment, and it is a beautiful one. I feel the pull of the dance studio hours before I’m due to arrive, and classes usually fly so quickly that I don’t want to leave. Dance creates a vibrant, almost Amelie-esque world, where we the performers can thrive, develop, prepare, and soar.
This isn’t to say that dance is easy. I’ve certainly paid the price with a torn hamstring, plantar fasciitis, bruises, strained muscles, and even tendonitis. Somehow, once I’m in the studio, I forget these things. (Most have thankfully healed). There is also the verbal pressure, the much needed pushing to improve, the occasional (or at times typical), yelling. This always intensifies just before a show, and it’s always crucial to remember that it’s done to bring us to our best, not our most annoyed.
Yet to address the question of why dance matters, I think back to the great progression of dance, from King Louis in France to Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis to the choreography of Susan Stroman. Dance moved from the more outward superficial to the inward-inspired and wholly expressive creative dance. Dance matters to me because it allows me to express myself beyond the scope of written language, and beyond the limitations of my own speech. Dance is transitory, fluid, and it can be over in a moment. I think dance is worth it because it allows us to fully participate as human beings in something which cannot be defined. Each time the dance is different, each time we start anew with renewed enthusiasm, each time, we dance to stamp the moment with our impressions. I would say we dance to live. Without dance, some of the most vulnerable, inner parts of ourselves might never find their way outside. Dance allows us to share these parts with all. And this, I would argue, enriches us all as viewers, as performers, as participants, and helps add to our culture. We are truly fortunate to dance.