Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Dancing about Architecture"

Perhaps you have heard this often quoted phrase that portrays dance as powerless to explain complex things.  Martin Mull's quote has been repeated by many others, like Frank Zappa.  

Dancers demonstrating principles of quantum physics
Who will defend dance as a way of expressing the concrete world?  

Evidently, "dance" is the strawman that is easily knocked down as not being very exacting.  When I first heard this quote, I too thought it was clever.  But is it really?

I believe that Martin Mull's purpose was to attack dance.  The quote is about words not being able to explain, describe or critique music.  Dance is a mere analogy to explain how the art of speech is powerless to convey the depth of the art of music.  What is interesting, however, is that we dancers embody and describe music better than any other medium.  Second, dance has been shown to be very helpful to convey meaning of difficult-to-understand concepts.  

I will not argue that words have limitations.  
Sure, words at times seem so powerless, but at times a simple statement brings great spiritual inspiration.  The same is true of dance and of music.  Words can give others a great sense of being loved, and so can dance.  Both words and dance can bring a torrent of tears from a face that was only a moment before composed.  Words, music and dance are the tools of poets and therapists.

Dance combined with music is in my opinion the epicenter of being human.  Dance explains the meaning of the universe in an excellent tanda.  In fours songs, we are oriented to East, West, North and South.  We experience the four season.  If honey bees can dance to find the exact coordinates of pollinating flowers, then perhaps dance can help humanity find the coordinates away from our apparent path of self-destruction. 

If you still wonder if dance can express complex issues or even change the world (if given the chance), please watch this:  "A Modest Proposal" to allow dance to change the world.

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