Sunday, May 31, 2015

Blocks from Dancing Freely

Dancers breaking the prohibition of dance
at the US Capital's Monuments
Why do people forget how to dance?


Psychological obstacles, legal consequences and in nearly every country, religious beliefs.

The American Constitution's First Amendment provides for Freedom of Speech but not dance.   When it comes to human development, the order of freedoms should follow our human development:

Freedom of Dance comes first as babies.

Freedom of Speech comes next and then much later . . .

Freedom of Religion (or personal philosophy).

Although dance is specifically prohibited by some repressive states, even the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights fails to mention the right to dance.  How can the most central part of our humanity--dance--be relegated to silence? Throughout history prohibitions have targeted this important human-specific expression.  And so how is it that dance doesn't need to be even mentioned as a human right?

I suppose that some readers will think that perhaps I am joking or perhaps that I am overstating the importance of dance.

I am not.

Just because an obvious phenomenon like gravity was long not even considered worthy of scientific exploration, does that make the phenomenon unimportant?  Dance is the elephant in the room when it comes to human rights.  Dance, for that matter, is even the step-child in most liberal arts colleges. Music, painting, sculpting and drama far outshadow dance.  It is no wonder that dance is not seen as a human right although dance is unique to our species?

In my next post, we can explore "the elephant in the mostly grey room"--the loss of rights of expression and how one has to fight to get them back.

Photo credit of dancers illegally expressing their human rights at the Jefferson Monument, Washington, D.C., 2011.


  1. Freedom of movement and freedom of expression are enshrined in the Declaration of the Human Rights, so dance ought to be protected

  2. MOKBA, so true! "Ought to be." In the history of humanity many governments and religious leaders have *and still are* prohibiting dance. But the consensus--even among those who advocate freedom--is that dance need not be even mentioned as a human right. (Dance is so unimportant, you know, as a "freedom.") I wonder: Do oppressive governments FIRST fear the freedom of dance or of speech? If the world was paying attention, swing dance and jazz were the first to feel the strangle hold of Nazism before larger "freedoms of movement" felt it. The Taliban were prohibiting dance far before the general public in the West had ever heard the word "Taliban." Could it be that dance is not only pulse of the human spirit it is the pulse of freedom of expression?


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