Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What is Modern Dance?


I took an abrupt hiatus a month and a half ago, and in the middle of a series of posts! I'm a horrible person. I'm sorry. It's been hard for me to come up with anything to post...because really, I had nothing to say. I'm recovering very nicely from my injury (might even be normal by the time school starts), but I haven't really, truly danced in so long that I've almost forgotten what I loved so much about it. I've been having doubts, in short. Forgive me.

I read this glorious article in the Huffington Post yesterday titled "What the Heck Is Modern Dance?" by Nora Younkin. I did a few posts (Part 1 and Part 2) earlier that discussed what I call "The Question," or "What kind of dance?" and "What do you want to do with your degree?" I love dance and I'm proud of it, but I hate answering these questions.

Very much like Ms. Younkin, the truth is that I don't really know what I'm going to do in the future. Modern and contemporary dance is my favorite genre, persay. There are modern companies and groups that I'd love to dance for. I might move to New York City and give it a go.

Dancers combine many disciplines, including athleticism, artistry and creativity, education, and global and political awareness. Though it may be all-encompassing and too presumptuous to say, I have always considered modern dance to be the more "intellectual" branch of dance. Jazz is largely known for its commercialism or showiness, and ballet is viewed as the art form to entertain kings and queens. Modern dance was born from dancers for dancers in rebellion against ballet to explore and create new things. In Younkin's words, "Modern dance is a big invitation for interpretation, and sometimes it requires the audience to take an open-minded leap into the new, unknown, bizarre or abrasive." In some cases, modern dance isn't even intended for an audience (Cunningham anyone?).

People think they don't "get" dance because they don't understand what a piece means, or why certain movements are used. I like to tell these people that it doesn't matter what it means (unless it's a story ballet or Broadway musical). What matters is that you, as an audience member, take something away from the performance, whether that be a memory of a beautiful spectacle or a deeper understanding of sadness, betrayal, and heartbreak. Everything doesn't have to make sense. After all, what is art but a senseless realm for open interpretation?

As I finish writing this post and publish it, I feel like I've regained half of my love for dance. At least, my respect and fondness for the intellectual defense of dance has returned. Thank goodness I'm going to ballet tonight.

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