Monday, February 23, 2009
The End.... sort of
I asked the dancers three last questions after the performances of Impact were over. I asked, “What is a choreographer and what does he or she do,” “Why is a dance program like ours valuable at a Polytechnic University,” and “What moment(s) during the performances were memorable and compelling to you as a performer, an observer or participant.” As always, the dancers generated thoughtful, deep and intellectual responses that affirm the value of what we do here. Their answers supported the value of dance education at the university level, and demonstrated their/our commitment to artistic concert dance distinct from commercial or competition dance.
The dancers understand that a choreographer is more than one who just makes up dance steps, that he or she is an artist with a vision who uses movement as an expressive medium. We saw many examples of choreographers in this sense in the Impact performance.
My list also includes that a choreographer is:
A movement artist
A conceptual artist
A sculptor of space
A multimedia designer
A social and political commentator
A kinetic journalist
A cultural reflection-ist
There are many reasons that dance is valuable to the students at this polytechnic. Notably, many students find connections between whatever discipline they study, to dance and to the body’s wisdom. The connection to creativity through dance fuels new and progressive ideas and provides tools to access the creative process.
In the words of Kate Barton,” Dance has so many parallels to my architectural education. Choreographing is like making a living model where I can explore space-making and circulation patterns with infinite flexibility.”
Expression balances analytical thinking, and for many students, somatic knowledge and kinesthetic learning dominates their educational experience. Also, dance nurtures the aesthetic, it gives the students the experience and the tools to evaluate and interpret meaning in symbolic and non-verbal forms. The possibilities for communication become infinitely multi layered and rich.
In terms of the last question – what they remember from the performances – many dancers commented on the joy and power of shared experiences, connections they made with others while dancing, and the joy of collaboration and teamwork. I was deeply touched by the many comments students made about witnessing the incredible beauty of their colleagues in various moments throughout the performance. How generous and mature it is of them to recognize and support the beauty and success in others. Bravo. Until next time…. we keep dancing.