Tag Archives: dance

Dance to the Music: the Kids Owned the Day

6 Dec

It IS, after all, about them, no?

Here’s the scene: A middle school auditorium in suburban New Jersey. It’s late Saturday afternoon on the second day of a dance competition. The auditorium is filled—but only loosely—with young dancers and their parents, other family, and friends. They’re all waiting for the last performance of the competition.

Some hip hop comes up on the sound system and a few of the dancers begin moving to the music. Some of them are standing up from their positions in the audience and are dancing in place. A couple others, at the far left and far right down front, are dancing in the outside aisles. More start joining in.

Down front, in the center, the action photographer—the guy who’s there to shoot photos of each dance number so they can then be sold to parents—is sitting down front on his high swivel chair. He’s smiling, swiveling in the chair to survey the scene, and he starts clapping on the backbeat.

That’s me.

Now another hip hop number comes up and, in a whooshhh! dancers get up out of their seats, rush to the aisles, and the aisles are jammed with kids joyously dancing. Five, six, eight, eleven, fifteen years old, a few older. Even the dancers waiting in the wings on stage for the final number, they danced too.

All dancing. 100, 200, maybe more. Dancing.

It was wonderful.

It made the day

How so?

Competitive dance.

What’s that?

What it is is an industry. There are some 200 companies in the USA that hold dance competitions, regional and then, in some cases, national.

Oh, You Mean Like Dancing with the Stars, only for kids?

Something like that. I don’t really know how it works because I’ve only seen this one day’s worth. What was going on that afternoon is that various dance studios would enter students in the competition as solos, duets or trios, small groups and so on, and they’re divided into a bunch of age groups so you don’t have four year olds competing against fourteen year olds. Continue reading

Why the Expressive Arts are Essential to the Transition

16 Apr

The expressive arts: music and dance, drawing and painting, calligraphy, sculpture, acting, needlecraft, architecture, and so on. Why they are essential: Because they bind us to one another and to the earth, they transform a place, a locus, into a home.

Before continuing down that path, however, let’s take a look back to the Romantics. It’s important to see how, for all their love of nature and of the expressive arts, they contributed to the ideologies that have ended up alienating us from Nature, and from the expressive arts.

It’s really quite simple. Back at the turn of the 18th into the 19th century, as the industrial revolution took hold, the Romantics venerated Nature, and opposed it to the City and to Industry. Industry was dirty, degrading, and alienating, keeping us from our True Home, nature. The trouble is, by so arguing, the Romantics placed Nature on a Pedestal, and put the Pedestal Over There Somewhere. The Romantics preserved nature by separating it from us. As more and more people moved into the cities, more and more people moved away from Nature. Nature became more and more alien, even as the Romantic Ideal became more and more alluring.

At the same time, the Romantics invested artistic expression in a class of rustics that lived Other There, in Nature, but also in an elite class of Geniuses who, while living among us, were not of us. Music and painting and poetry and dance became the provinces of those august geniuses, on the one hand, and women and children on the other. They were no longer capacities that each and everyone of us had and exercised. And those geniuses, they became the playthings of the industrial rich, perhaps railing against them, but ultimately tied to them as patrons.

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