Sunday, February 3, 2013

Laughably Ignorant

Of the many things that I do not know, there aren't many that I am willing to admit that do not deal with relationships, women, or Pinterest. But there is one topic that I am most certainly among the most ignorant and uncultured human being to have appreciated its majesty in the past several millennia, and that is the unfathomable realm of dancing. Despite my ersthwile slender physique and refined gait, I have not yet captured or even begun to grasp the intricacies of this discipline.

Last night was the quintessential moment of my education in what I do not know. My dear friend Heidi is a member of the BYU Contemporary Dance Theater, and they had a performance that I attended with some mutual friends. Hours of practice and work had been poured into this performance, and the energy in the room was palatable as we took our seats in the second row of the theater. From this angle we could literally see up their noses (and we were close enough to actually do so had the desire lighted upon us). A small blues band on stage played some dulcet tones as we waited for the dancing to begin.

What I beheld over the next hour and a half is still much a blur to me. I remember lots of hands in the air, many a kick and a twirl, and a lot of exuberant smiles. At one point the dancers were acrobats, leaping and vaulting over bars, running down and around the aisles, twirling into the arms of other acrobats, and sliding gracefully from mark to mark. Transitional pieces included a wonderful animated short that captured the spirit of the art, creating a majestic hybrid of forms that rarely is seen in today's cinemas. The culmination of all the thematic expressions was summed nicely in the last number, which dance featured a delightful performance by Heidi, a treat that I did not expect.

Overall the details of the dance do not stick with me as I move away from the event. What really sticks with me is the feeling I had whilst watching the mesmerizing movements of so many slender and elegant forms parade around in unison on the stage. Feelings of remorse, joy, loss, and redemption somehow, inexplicably, crept into my mind as I took in the action. Though I have been told countless times that art has the power to move the deepest hollows of the soul, I was not prepared for those movements to take shape in my conscious mind. Indeed, it didn't even occur to me that I could actually come to embrace an idea through dance, as though each step reverberated with the truth of a thousand words.

What power does this thing called dancing hold? How was it able to actually make me consider the themes that ran so powerfully throughout the choreography, existing in the ethereal realms of communication that I am so woefully inept at accessing? Through what unguarded hole did these impressions creep, for I truly did not know that the dancing before me was actually founded upon these themes, embracing them at the very core of their motion.

To me the beauty of dance is ultimately twofold. It is at once so incredibly beyond my grasp and comprehension that I do not understand even the basics of how it is done. But on another, much more deep-seated level lies what I think attracts all mankind to this form of expression, and that is the ability to speak without vocalizing. Language is, at its best, a clunky medium through which the base emotions and desires are expressed. Then comes the non-verbal cues of speech that help fill in the gaps left by our inadequate words. And then there is dance, that full-bodied correspondence of the soul that leaves both parties with a sense of something expressed that runs deep within the veins of our existence.

Dance is, and always has been, and always will be, the elucidation of our individuality within our commonality. It is universally understood, and yet deeply unique in the individual who expresses, and individually powerful to the spirit who receives.