Dance has made enormous progress in popularity over the last decade. It used to be considered a serious art form and something for only the elite to enjoy. Perhaps one could say this about many other art forms as well. However, I feel music, film, and visual arts have dominated the art world; music being the most accessible. You can turn it on at home, in your car, or listen to it in public – yet privately with your earbuds. The accessibility, countless genres, instruments, and moods make music next to impossible to deny a love for. Music provides an escape, whether it be a private or public audience, many listeners can’t help but groove or glide when engaging with music; so maybe this leads us to the art of dance. You can find it everywhere on social media and the internet, from short, goofy snippets to recitals, competitions, and performances on YouTube. However, it seems not as many people have the desire to seek it out and pay for a ticket as one would a music concert or Spotify subscription. Like an abstract painting, I have often heard people say, “I don’t get it.” It all boils down to whether or not people have the opportunity to engage with the genre and quality that speaks to them. For a lot of people, the Nutcracker is their first experience of live, professional dance. As someone who has danced in and seen countless Nutcrackers, I do not blame them for not wanting to try other dance performances again. Especially ballet!
I do think that most people enjoy watching dance once they find what they connect with. I attribute this to popular dance shows like So You Think you can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, and America’s Got Talent. These shows have really pushed dance into the spotlight, and have made it more accessible. Of course, the internet has had a huge hand in this as well. Ballet, my first love, is still a little behind in the ranks of desire but most ballet companies have brought contemporary dance into their season’s lineup. There are different opinions about what defines contemporary dance, but contemporary ballet combines ballet and modern. Often, pointe shoes are thrown aside and the work becomes more fluid and nebulous, yet with the technical training required in ballet. Combining other art forms with contemporary dance, like visual art, live music, poetry, and film has also made it more relatable, which has become more and more common over the last decade.
I find it interesting how a lot of people when exposed to the arts, want to leave knowing the meaning of it all. With dance, one can certainly get this from a musical or broadway since the storylines are so easy to follow. There is a certain satisfaction or closure about leaving a cultural experience knowing what you just saw.
When I watch a dancer, and they are truly authentic and honest in their movement, I experience a layer of them that they might not usually share. They are revealing a little bit more of their true selves. It doesn’t matter whether they are trained or having fun in the moment; their feelings become contagious and I find myself smiling, laughing, feeling sad or moved towards anticipation.
As long as I am being inspired or challenged, I feel I have gotten something out of an artistic experience. I am thrilled that dance continues to move forward in popularity and hope the momentum continues to thrive. If you are looking for a little inspiration through movement, I will leave you with the film which I produced below. It is The Dinner Table, a five-time national and international official film festival selection. I hope you find some enjoyment in it!