In praise of dance!

I am going to bypass my usual Rearview Fridays post (where I look at an old craft/dance/sewing/you-name-it project of mine) and simple offer up my absolute love for dance. Because on Sunday, April 29th, before I blog again,  it’s International Dance Day!

This is a picture of me in a solo I performed during the last year of my college dance program at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Titled The Illegibility of This World, the work is by eminent Canadian dancer/choreographer Julia Sasso. She created this solo on me. It was a fabulous, physical, performative challenge, I revelled in each intense performance in December 2001.  photo is by David Hou.

Below I’ve posted this year’s International Dance Day message by Flemish Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. It’s thoughtful, beautiful message that encompasses all that I believe to be true of dance.

I encourage you, as you’re passing through your weekend, to add a little skip or gallop into your walk to the park, to stop for a kitchen dance party or just break it down old school styles in the grocery aisle — make a scene, celebrate dance!

 

Message of the 30th Anniversary of International Dance Day: Celebrate the never-ending choreography of life                                

By Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

Through time, through the ages, what endures is mostly art. Art seems to be everything humankind leaves to its heirs – whether through buildings or books or paintings or music. Or movement, or dance. In that sense, I think of dance as the most current, the most up-to-date history lesson, as it is in a constant relationship with its most recent past and can only happen in the present.

Dance also, somehow, does not acknowledge borders in the same way as many other arts. Even when certain styles try to limit themselves or work within a frame; the movement of life, its choreography and its need for flux: these take over very quickly, allowing certain styles to mingle with other. Everything engages with everything, naturally, and dance settles only in the space it belongs to — that of the ever-changing present.

I believe that dance may be one of the most honest forms of expression for us to cherish: because when people dance, whether in a ballet performance, a hip-hop battle, an underground contemporary show or just in a discotheque, cutting loose, there are seldom any lies deployed, any masks worn. People reflect each other constantly, but when they dance, perhaps what they reflect most is that moment of honesty.

By moving like other people, by moving with other people and by watching them move, we can best feel their emotions, think their thoughts and connect to their energy. It is, perhaps, then that we can get to know and understand them clearly.
I like to think of a dance performance as a celebration of co-existence, a way to give and make space and time for each other. We tend to forget this, but the underlying beauty in a performance is that it is primarily the convergence of a mass of people, seated one next to the other, all sharing the same moment. There is nothing private about it; a performance is an extremely social experience. All of us assembled for this ritual, which is our bond with the performance, our bond with the same present.

And so, in 2012, I wish everyone lots of dance. Not to forget all their problems of 2011, but on the contrary, to tackle them creatively, to dance around them, to find a way to engage with each other and the world, to engage with life as part of its never-ending choreography. Dance to find honesty and to transmit, to reflect and to celebrate it.”

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