Why We Dance: In the Studio and On Stage
Reflecting on today’s performance, I’m struck by the many reasons we dance.
In talking with teachers, parents and dancers about the performance, I heard the declaration of so many different reactions and motivations. Each group had their own reasons for participating in the show, and each group felt that those reasons were validated by the experience. The best thing about hearing everyone’s comments was the realization that these different motivations all overlap with and compliment each other. But before the stage comes the studio and the many reasons we choose to dance.
Ideally, the studio is a sacred place where problems are left at the door and the outside world takes a backseat to the practice. In reality, we all know that this isn’t always true. In the past year, I’ve seen students who are motivated by fitness, by a love of movement, and by the allure of a tutu and tights. I’ve heard parents express an interest in the discipline of dance, the health benefits, the socialization, the intellectual stimulation, and simply the fun and enjoyment that it brings their child. As a teacher, I want all of these things for my students. Healthy bodies and minds that love to move and continue to be stimulated by new and different concepts including and also beyond dance technique. I love watching students grow and change, and I try my very best to acknowledge those changes. This year alone, I’ve seen students with severe separation anxiety become well-adjusted, creative, and independent. I’ve seen dancers with disabilities improve in their dancing and overcome physical limitations. I’ve seen students make connections and create imagery that have improved their dancing as well as their understanding of how their own bodies function. Most importantly, I’ve seen students engage. From two and a half all the way through to adulthood, I’ve seen students engage their bodies and minds in the process of movement, technique, patterns, rhythm, shapes, speed, energy, and flow. We don’t just practice A dance. We engage in the practice of dance, with all the intricacies that it requires. The studio is our home, our lab, our workshop, our space to learn, move, and grow. The stage is our means of sharing those achievements.
So many of our dancers were visibly excited at the prospect of dancing on stage. Tutus and costumes and a chance to “show-off” their skills were enough to make some of them actually bounce up and down. Parents expressed their appreciation of the opportunity provided their children to dance and perform on the stage, but some of you actually went into this day hoping your child would grow to the occasion and, without exception, they did. There were tears, cold feet, and a few melt downs, but they did it. More than just showing off their dances, they showed off their bravery, their love of movement, their excitement, their skill, and their progress. The stage shines a light on everything our dancers have learned, and while we’re proud to show our dances, we are far happier to show our ability to dance with all of the behind the scenes learning and growth that it requires.