Monday, September 30, 2013

This, too, is Dance

I read a piece that made me sad the other day. It was the usual "I am old and losing my dance" lament.

The person writing it is just in his...50s.

Really?

This writer's definition is too narrow, and because it's narrow, it is bringing him grief.

In the other arts, age brings wisdom and experience and depth.

In dance, one would think it brings nothing but death.

This has a lot to do with the fact that, culturally, people have been and are being trained to equate dance with gymnastics.

Ballet, beginning early on, is about twisting and contorting the body. If you can't, you're out.

And this cultural perception is what drives so many of the television dance shows and they drive me batty. Extension and big leaps are what bring applause and good scores.

Emotion.

Artistry.

Truth.

Vulnerability.

These have nothing to do with athleticism.

They have everything to do with experience which comes with time which comes with aging...

So we throw out or begin to ignore dancers, really, just when they are getting most interesting and compelling. Just when they have the most story in their bodies.

Not all of us are doing this, of course.

I work with a wide array of dancers and many of them are well over 50 (and well over 70!).

For inspiration today, here is Frances, who is now 92 and STILL creating. She danced in her youth with some of the best in Modern.