Watch, Listen, Feel and Understand
What approaches are there to immerse yourself in a completely new culture? Have you considered what you could learn through dance? It’s more than just movement, it’s a form of expression mixed with emotion and storytelling. It’s a universal language that reveals the deepest secrets of a society through its history and culture. Every region of the world and every country you visit has it’s own type of dance. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn by observing a new dance and trying to understand its significance.
- Calling Spirits
Certain cultures relay their expression of dancing as a means of communication with those beyond the physical realm. They believed that dancing would summon spirits and assist them in warding off evil. Some African dances for example include masks that represent spirits. The mask is so powerful that it symbolizes the dancer being embodied by a higher being.
2. Where Do You Fit In?
Dance is also seen as a symbol of status and hierarchy. The more prestigious forms of dance are reserved for upper class nobles while commoners have their own styles and traditions. The movement of each dance portrays the various degrees of sophistication amongst a society. Ballet was originally developed in Europe as a form of art for the privileged upper class. Its technique was so elegant and precise that it demonstrated the higher level of superiority amongst aristocrats.
3. Once Upon a Time…
…dance represented a story of every day life through visual expressive movements. As history evolved so did the art of dance. The constant flow of migration and interconnected communities changed certain motions as time went by. Latin America has a great history of dance through the ages impacted by Europe and Africa. African and European migrants brought new movements, new instruments and new costumes that blended with indigenous traditions.
4. Your Majesty
Dancers were brought to royal courts to visually tell the tales of past dynasties and myths of their society. Dressed in the most prestigious and extravagant costumes, they expressed constant gratitude and praise before their Kings and Queens. In Southeast Asia, different dances from different countries may have similar outfits because they have been historically performed under the same empire.
If you really want to discover more about the new country you move to, try to get to know its local dances. With that, you will uncover more than simple movements accompanied by music. You will learn about culture, history, and society through the various styles and gestures you observe. Watch, listen, feel and understand.
GOOD LUCK Expats!
Written by Dima Calnan