Sunday, April 22, 2012

National Dance Week - Day 1: Dance is Vital To Our Communities - by Christie Roberts

Today marks the first day of Canada's National Dance Week, and in light of  today's theme, I have been pondering what role dance plays in the greater community. Is dance a vital part of community? What I have discovered is that as a member of the arts community, dance is truly the ultimate art form. Not only is it all-inclusive but it also is historically significant, and it is an incredible source for personal growth.
If you take the opportunity to think about it, you will quickly see that dance is all around us. As a living art form, dance incorporates a variety of educational perspectives; it embodies elements of science, sociology, history and physical education. In the school system, it has been debated where dance should lie in the curriculum. Is it a form of fitness that belongs in the physical education class? Should the science behind the way the body allows movement be explored? Is it an art form to be studied? Perhaps it is a record of human history to be discussed? Or instead, can it be used to perform a sociological study of human interaction. Regardless of where dance finds you, it will undoubtedly reach all people in at least one of these areas.
Dance is a historic expression of how humans experience the world aesthetically through movement. Throughout history, dance has been used to mark human milestones and achievements which increases social interaction and celebration. 

If you have not previously viewed the “Evolution of Dance” video on YouTube, it is definitely worth checking out. Comedic and fun it highlights iconic dance moves through recent decades. Dance connects us to one another and unifies our individual experiences through time.

Equally important is how dance continues to shape humankind on a daily basis. Consider the many representations of dance in the media. Many popular television shows are centered on mastering a variety of dance forms. Although there is an element of competition between the dancers, dance itself is celebrated. Here in our own community, there are a number of outlets for dancers. 

I have personally been dancing under the tutelage of an incredible dance artist, choreographer, and teacher. Sarah Lochhead is the artistic director of the Simcoe Contemporary Dancers, and she has an inspiring way of creating an environment for learning. She creates an environment that is ripe for learning, rich with visualization, and centered on individual successes of each student, which are widely celebrated. 

There is no room for competition in a space that evokes the very spirit of movement. In each class, she shares her passion for developing skills as a life-long learner. We are a diverse group of individuals who are bound together by a love of dance and the arts - or maybe just Sarah. When Sarah describes your movement as "delicious," you cannot help but feel compelled to keep moving. To continue to grow as a human and as a dance artist, one must be willing to try new things, to see challenges as exciting opportunities, and to find inspirational teachers who help us to develop and achieve our goals.

In final analysis, while I have merely scratched the surface of its reaches, the answer to my original question is yes, dance is a vital part of our communities. It is far reaching and historically significant. With all things considered, even more vital are the exceptional dance teachers who keep the spirit and history of movement alive in all of us. This year, in honour of National Dance Week, please reflect upon how dance has touched your life, and take the opportunity to celebrate it this year. 

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