Wherefore Art Thou, Dance?

June 23, 2014

I’ve been stabbed in the thigh. That is my fist thought. I can’t catch my breath. The room I am in is completely black, aside from a red flashing set of numbers across from me I can’t quite make out. In the ten seconds it takes for my eyes to adjust to the sleepy darkness that is my bedroom, I begin sweating like a sumo wrestler in the desert. Finally, I can make out that the red numbers on the clock across from me read 4:00 am. Fantastic.

Once again, I am the victim of a charley horse in my saritorium. In plain English, the largest muscle in the human body that runs from the inner knee to the top of the pelvis began to violently spasm in the middle of a much needed REM cycle. Paralyzed from the waist down, I apply pressure to my leg and pray to the dance gods that I can get back to sleep with enough time to be rested for company class and rehearsal in 4 hours. Waiting for the pain to subside, I ask myself why I keep putting my body through this.

For the professional dancer, or for the pre-professional student, the “why” is both the most important and least important question we ask ourselves. After years of dedication, training and networking we eventually find ourselves in a world of daily classes and rehearsals. That we dance is more important than why we dance. And whatever reason we had for why we began dancing has taken a back seat to the fact that we must continue to do so.

For recreational dance fanatic however, the “why” has a much more interesting implication. Sure, there is the obvious fact that dance in any form is an excellent source of exercise. That being said, pilates, gyrokinesis, spinning and yoga are all great ways to keep in shape week-to-week. So there must be something else to dance than simple exercise alone. Some make the claim that dancing just makes them feel better. This I will allow. Though it is now common knowledge that exercise in all forms releases endorphins in the body, contributing to a sense of euphoria. So it seems that we are still back where we began with dance as simple exercise.

There is the beauty of dance. Being an art form as well as a form of physical exercise, dance is completely unique in its ability to create an incomparable aesthetic; the style of which other athletic ventures like gymnastics or figure skating merely emulate. Perhaps that is the charm of dance. That in dance we find a marriage of athletics and art where one cannot exist without the presence of the other is a catch 22 we can try to reconcile little by little–creating the magic of dance within ourselves one class at a time.
Why do you dance? let us know.
¡M e r d e !

-Robert Graham
Freelance Dancer, Writer

Wherefore Art Thou, Dance?