Resolve to open your dance worldview. Can’t we all just dance and get along?
Ah, the new year’s resolution-I went to yoga last week and the room was packed, PACKED, with bodies. By the end of January (ok, mid-February at the latest) I know that I’ll have plenty of room to roll out my mat. This year, instead of the same old resolutions (eat healthier! get more sleep! do those corrective exercises EVERY day!), I want to suggest taking a broader view, inspired by a You Tube video that puts a lump in my throat every time I watch it.
So now you’ve watched said video (that’s what this post is all about, right? Go back and watch it if you haven’t) and you’re probably wondering 1)what does this have to do with resolutions? and 2) how I could possibly be such a giant wimp that this video chokes me up, with nary a cute baby or old-dog-teaching-puppy-how-to-go-down-stairs (though that one is pretty emotionally affecting too) in sight?
I’ll answer the easy question first-I find it so moving to watch someone dancing with passion and total commitment, and I see that happening throughout this montage of clips*. I love the fact that “bnewcol,” whoever she is, included so many different styles of dance, people dancing who aren’t dancers, and people dancing who were dancers even though you didn’t know it-did YOU know that Jimmy Cagney started out as a dancer? (I did, but only because I spent my teens obsessively watching his movies on late night TV. I had a total crush on him).
This brings me to the second, harder question-my proposed resolution. There’s behavior that I see happening these days, in (and out) of the dance world, that I’m not too crazy about. Among dancers I see people being dismissive of styles, companies, other dancers who they’re unfamiliar with and/or different than the styles and companies they think are “best”. I’m guilty of this too, so I’m suggesting all of us resolve to be more open to exploring new styles, new companies, new ways of dancing, moving. Not going to the immediate, cynical place, giving Judy/Jeffrey Judgmental a little winter vacation. The world can always use a little extra tolerance, right?
Now everyone, including me, has a right to their opinion, so I (you) may not like everything I (you) see or try. And (disclaimer here) I see no need to spend time on someone/thing who’s pretending to be something they’re not-go watch Exit Through the Gift Shop for a great example of this (warning-not a dance film, but still very good). But I’m hoping that opening my dance “worldview” will help me grow as a dancer and a teacher, bring me enjoyment, enrich me, maybe even (dare I say it?) make me a better person. That’s what resolutions are all about, right?
*For those of you who are interested here’s the order of clips: 1) Svetlana Zakharova – Swan Lake; 2) Riverdance – Reel of the Sun; 3) Michael Flatley – Lord of the Dance; 4) Michael Jackson – Beat It; 5) Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse – Singing in the Rain; 6) Elvis – Jailhouse Rock; 7) Charlie Chaplin – Modern Times; 8) John Travolta/Olivia Newton John – Grease; 9) Jimmy Cagney – Yankee Doodle Dandy ;10) Debbie Reynolds – Singing in the Rain ; 11) A Chorus Line; 12) Patrick Swayze – Dirty Dancing; 13) Natalie Wood/Richard Beymar – West Side Story; 14) Al Nims & Leon James doing the Charleston; 15) Maxim & Mel B – Dancing with the Stars; 16) Elvis and Ann Margret – Viva Las Vegas; 17) Michael Jackson from TV Special; 18) Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers – Swing Time; 19) Gene Kelly – Singing in the Rain; 20) All That Jazz; 21) Three Stooges get a dance lesson; 22) Flashdance; 23) Shirley Temple & Bill “Bojangles” Robinson – Just Around the Corner; 24) Anne Reinking – All That Jazz; 25) Nicholas Brothers – Stormy Weather; 26) Wizard of Oz