Friday, December 19, 2008

"How do I look at dance" or Get it? Got it. Good.

Ah, clarity.

All I want for Christmas this year is to never again have the scoffs and snide commentary directed towards modern dance, my major, or how being "so artistic" might/maybe/probably scares legitimate dating experiences away (you know you said it, you know who you are, you should probably be ashamed of yourself.)

So, when I read the forward inside my program for Ririe-Woodbury's performance of Interiors, I breathed a sigh of relief, clapped my claps twice, and planned on copying it down HERE so that you, my friends & family members (basically, any nay-sayer around these here parts), can finally understand how to look at modern dance without feeling the need to interpret, and maybe, just maybe, learn to give yourself permission to love what you experience in a modern dance concert.

This piece was written by Rachel Howard,
for an April 2005 San Franciso Chronical article.
(For more of her articles and reviews,
check out this link: Rachel Howard)

“Dance can be mysterious, mystifying, intimidating. Dance is nonverbal. You can't reduce what you've seen to a plot; you can't recite the lines. It's ephemeral. It vanishes before you're quite sure what you've seen. And at its best, dance says things no other art form can, and you feel it in your muscles and your breath, and you walk out wondering if you can communicate what you've just experienced to another person.
Or wondering if you got it.
The fact is, each of us is a dance person. We've each swayed to music at a rock concert, or appreciated the curvature of a finely trained physique, or felt the rush of another person's rhythms vicariously in our own limbs. Dance is elemental, like music..."
"At a lecture I gave on ballet last year, one of the first questions was, "What should I be watching?" There are no shoulds. You can watch the dancers' athleticism, the patterns they make onstage, the rhythms of their steps. A good choreographer will focus your eye. But just as important as what you're seeing is what you're feeling. Dance is not two-dimensional. It's not visual art. When a butoh master crawls in tense, time-suspending steps, you can imagine that tension and control in your own body. When a ballet dancer swooshes past in an enormous grand jete, you can feel the wind in your own hair. Open yourself to these sensations and you will "see" dance anew."
“Don't be afraid to say you're bored -- or thrilled. If you went to a bad movie, you'd complain about why you didn't like it. You wouldn't decide that you don't like movies. But often with dance, viewers stop trusting their guts. They've been told this is art. Something must be wrong with them, not with the dance itself. It's healthy to realize no one has the final say on whether a work is good, but it's folly to deny how you really felt about the dance in the moment. Be honest with yourself about your emotional response to the dancing, and you'll be all the more moved when you find that performance that makes you say, this is for me.”


  1. the last time i saw you dance, you were the most beautiful woman in the world.

  2. I love this. Thank you for the post.