The words dancers use are fascinating. Each dancer has a different way of talking about their style, and each style has an entirely new language. Here are some examples: (Talking about tap dance.) “For some songs, we dance on top of the music. For others, we dance into the music.” “You have to find the beat and find your feet.” “It’s good just being in my shoes every day.” “Sometimes I get bored with what’s coming out of my feet.”
(Ragamala –Indian –) “Our dances are mythology, scripture, a life-time of stories.” “You make words with your body.” “We’re always translating each other’s bodies. Watching. Trying to find meaning.” “Dance is poetry.” “Relationships don’t last. Dance does.” “It’s not just what the hands say. It’s what the entire body feels like. Where’re your shoulders? Are you smiling? What about your hips?” “It’s like writing a poem. The title is ‘Evening,’ and then you build on it. Explore it. Develop it in your mind.” “Everything is spoken in rhythms.”
(Butoh – Japanese –) “Imagine a string going from the tip of your head to the bottom of your tailbone.” Imagine someone moving this string from side to side.” “Feel this movement flow throughout your body.” “Feel yourself relax into the movement. Move comfortably. Always move comfortably.” “Flow to where your body is most comfortable.” “You have to slip into your subconscious body. The body that observes everything.” “Qualia: it means quality of sense.” “There is an essence to life experiences. Something you learn even before your conscious mind recognizes it.” “Tap into everyone’s experience.” “I’m a midwife. (Laughs). I guide people so they find their own movement.”
(Break-dancing) “Breaking is much less original than it used to be. When it started, everyone would only get a couple chances to watch each other, and then you would have to make it up on your own. You would make more mistakes, but you would fix them. By fixing them, the moves changed and became your own. Now, with YouTube, the moves are starting to look much more similar. You get an infinite number of tries to fix your mistakes exactly the way they did.” “I was always into moving freely as a kid. I never liked rules.” “This is what you do before you hit the floor. (Dances on her feet for a couple beats.)” “I like to think of these as sentences. Then, you put them together to make phrases.” “You keep practicing so you don’t get stuck. Getting stuck is the worst.”
(General class discussion) “I want to build some scaffolding to climb around on. (While teaching basic dance steps.)” “Who did you take with?” “It’s good to have other forms of dance in your body.” “Feel the different beats move through your body.”
It’s was fascinating to move in each of these different dance forms, but it was even more interesting to listen to how each of these expert dancers talked their trade. Each dance style really was unique. Each tapped into a different human flow, and each style probably looks at the world in a slightly different way. Some are more focused on raw flow. Others on the perfection of perfect movement. Still others on rebelliousness and never hitting the floor in the exact same way. And yet, their brains all probably look almost the exact same.