Some Thoughts About Dance

Category: The Artist In Me

Photo Credit: Mike Fisher (BFS Man), via Flickr

The ballet was breathtaking. Dance is fascinating in the way it gives everything away. It burns itself up and afterwards I have nothing. The curtain goes down and I am changed but I have nothing to say. My language is not up to the task of “explaining” dance. Words like “breathtaking”, “graceful”, “athletic”, trite cliches and I can not believe they carry any communicative force when applied to dance. I am speechless in the face of this thing that dissects itself into a series of gestures demonstrated specifically one after the other and the application of lighting and music. The whole of it touches shadows in my experience and sows tears of recognition to be harvested in the second act.

It happened this time too but I’m not just talking about Eugin Onegin.

Dance is not at all like the circus where I witness feats of agility or daring-do and feel an “Ahhh! Ohhh!” rise in my throat. After a concert, I have a tune, a riff, a chorus for humming. After an evening at the theater I have a story, a funny line, a quote to share, but after the ballet? I have nothing. Not even a gesture that, taken out of context, is food for conversation with anyone who was not there. Dance is this perfect intersection between story, emotion, intuition and gesture that, by some astonishing form of magic, becomes much more than the sum of it’s parts. A think of it’s own and it teaches me, shows me, something, something invisible, I hadn’t known, never saw before and must now carry with me forever.

If I can’t communicate it, I can’t share it. If I can’t share it, I surely can’t give it away and I am bound. It holds me, not the other way ‘round .

And so now here we are after all. At the intersection of exactly what I love about dance; it’s directness, it’s here-and-nowness, it’s don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-itness, it’s entreaty mich hinzugeben, fallen zu lassen, fallen zulassen, einfach Zulassen und alles, alles, alles vergessen except the moment and that I am, we are, deeply human.

Now I see it; why language can’t go where dance can: That which plays itself out onstage is us.