Dance: To Whom Does It Belong?

Over the last few months, I have been re-examining my philosophy of dance and dance education. A few experiences have brought my attention to how the general public accesses dance and stakes claims to it outside of the discipline of dance- freely, confidently, rightfully.

As an undergrad, I felt it belonged to the most committed; those that made the most sacrifices in order to be in class and in rehearsal.

As a professional dancer, I felt it belonged to audiences by way of the trained dancer.

As a grad student, I felt it belonged to the dance-makers.

As an educator, early in my career, I felt I was offering dance students the gift of dance.

Now, I offer the gift of language but dance, and movement, belongs to everyone.

In the past, I took it upon myself to bring dance to other disciplines, wanting to expose connections and inspire new thinking for those working in dance, the other area, and everything in between. Now, I am stumbling into people that are non-dancers and yet using dance for their own purpose- in collaboration with dancers but largely independent of the field of dance. I find it to be a relief as well as an inspiration. Dance is alive and thriving even though I spend a fair amount of time waiting for its place to be diminished such as program cuts, minimizing, and etc.

My life in dance hasn’t been concrete. I started with a serious plan, a plot- even. Yet life has had a way of shifting my paths right in front of me, brought me to landmarks and guides that were unexpected but completely worth the detour, and changed my outlook completely.

I find myself asking, who am I best prepared to serve? Dancers with plans and plots? Dancers disguised as movers- with great attention to the function and purpose of dance in a myriad of contexts but without the contact hours or intent of dancing with technique as dancers perceive it? All of the above?

Anyway, this is what I am pondering these days. Hope fall is treating you well.