It’s an age old question, talked about more today because of all the dance competitions and TV shows. A recent article in the Huffington Post put it all in prospective for me. For a long time I was of the opinion that dance was not a sport, it is an art form. And this article confirms it for me. In sports there are winners and losers. The players are in it to win. Dancers dance for many reasons. Unless they are participating in a competition, they are not dancing for the trophy. Dancers dance because of how it feels. And what is the definition of a dancer? One who dances. This is the long, graceful ballet dancer, the earthy, weighted modern dancer, the interpretive hula dancer, the fiery tango dancer, the elegant ballroom waltzer, the street wise hip-hop dancer, the person with Parkinson’s dancing for life, the high kicking Rockette, the musical comedy gypsies, the injured using dance for therapy, the kids in the creative movement class, the sexy Apache dancer, the couple dancing in the kitchen as they make dinner, the father dancing with the bride, the recreational dancers and the serious dancers. We are all dancers at some point in our lives.
Dance is one of the oldest art forms. It was how we first communicated. It tells a story. It evokes responses. Audiences are not required to like it or understand it. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. But we have to get past judging the tricks and allow ourselves to feel. When you are moved by how it feels to dance you soar, and when you are moved by what you see it becomes theatre and allows for the “willing suspension of disbelief” and transforms into pure magic.
This article was originally on February 27th, 2015 in the National Dance Week Blog.
About the Author: Susan Epstein was a dancer, educator and choreographer before becoming a consultant in the dance merchandising and event business. She holds a BFA in Dance from SMU and did graduate work at CWRU and is on the board of NDWF.