Watch Dance, Reflect, Repeat

Why modern dance leads to deeper self-reflection.

This generation needs to turn towards a new form of self-reflection.

I’m talking about something beyond journaling, beyond finding the perfect song to convey one’s mood.

I want to make the case for the revitalization of one of the arts’ most overlooked programs:

dance

Contemporary, modern, you name it — the history of dance precedes the history of many other things, but I find myself and my contemporaries paying little attention to it. Some avoid it and will cringe at the thought.

Let me be clear here: I am not talking about you, reader, partaking in the act of dancing. Leave that the artisans. I am talking about witnessing dance.

The power of watching dance as a means of self-reflection may be one of the most underrated emotional support tools of the modern day.

Watch this clip . I promise, its brief; the rest of the video remains tied to the end of the article should you want more.


Should you have been born unable to acquire a vocabulary, a lexicon, that allowed you to convey your emotions — the pent-up feelings and indescribable nerve endings shooting off neurotransmitters into receptors — one of the things you may find yourself doing is dancing.

I find this to be true, even as someone who maintains and prunes an average vocabulary set. There are emotions so complex that only dance can convey. To embody the essence of your human nature in movement is to express and share what you cannot describe in words.

A dancer’s contortion through space represents so much in itself — defying the inherent restrictions of the body’s movements through long stretches and years of training. People dedicate their lives to being able to mirror life and the obstacles it poses, both natural and spiritual.

What you, I, and the non-dancers of the world receive is the therapy — the sense of watching the details of our lives play out in front of us, almost as though we are watching a film, for what may be the first time in our lives.

Just as a line of a song strikes at your heart and brings you to tears, so may witnessing the balanced, forward pseudo-fall of the dancer as she paces around in circles. You await her fall as she circles once more, yet she remains tall. Whatever correlations you draw, do not deny that you make them at all.

So, one may wonder, what is this all about? Why am I writing to you about the importance of watching the art of dance?

This is more than spectacle. This is not “Lord of the Dance.” This is the means of escaping the hustle-bustle of daily life and diving into what it means to be you, whoever you are.

This is the means of escaping the hustle-bustle of daily life. Get out from behind your screen into the world that surrounds you.

Sometimes, we need reminders of our effulgence. Again — this is not about happy feelings. In fact, sometimes watching dance allows us to return to the moment of pain or sorrow. Watching a dancer leap across the stage only to land into a tumble may provoke a memory that you locked deep away.

All I am saying is:

Give dance a chance to find the key, unlock the door, and accept whatever lies on the other side.

Watching my friend Lily’s creative genius through motion inspires me to acknowledge my humanity. Maybe you’ll find a reason to do the same.


Alle Ehrhardt

Dancing in the streets of New Orleans, looking for what’s around the river bend.


Originally published at www.theodysseyonline.com on March 27, 2017.