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Dance: Physical Poetry of the Embodied Spirit

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Essay title: Dance: Physical Poetry of the Embodied Spirit

Dance: Physical Poetry of the Embodied Spirit

By: Ryan Hallford

All persons have several elements that constitute their particular existence. Certain modes of thought attempt to systemize and pin down this existence into intelligible categories; still, the individual always evades clarification. The person, a paradox of being and becoming, connotes something that is both constant and fluid. A natural analogy exists between all humans. Namely, something similar allows for a community of comparable beings, while something distinct accounts for individuality. Many philosophers have typically glorified thinking as the sole activity that makes humanity distinctive, despite the fact that human experience encompasses more than mental activities. Rational thought may be a component of human experience, but it is not the totality. Passions, relationships, and community all underlie the experience of the individual person. Consequently, any subsequent holistic viewpoint about humanity ought to engage the many elements that compose human activities. In order to explicate a paradigm that examines the totality of human experience, an activity must be sought that is physical yet spiritual, structured yet spontaneous, communicative yet enigmatic. Although any number of activities may entail involvement of these elements, a particular model of dance offers the best paradigm. In examining the phenomenon, this viewpoint of dance offers a specific microcosm of reality that serves to interpret and represent the meaning of life.

In history, there have been numerous expressions of dance. This may initially seem to undermine the assertion that a particular model of dance deserves more attention. To rectify this problem, the model of dance to be used must incorporate certain paradoxical elements previously mentioned. Hence, examining possible expressions of dance will facilitate a proper model with the aim of diving deeper into this epitome to extract meaning.

All dancing simultaneously reveals the physical and spiritual. The motion of the body syncopating to the rhythm of the music creates a non-verbal expression of desire. These passions become fully manifested in temporal movement publicizing one's nature beyond words and concepts. Dance is the poetry of the embodied spirit; the meaning of personhood becomes fully expressed and fully elusive. The character of dance pervades the being, whether self, partner, or spectator, while drumming the sound of the primordial desires that precede and supersede all other expressions. Through dance the body becomes an outward sign of an inward reality. The sign and the signified become one, both meaningful yet mysterious.

Should dance be structured or spontaneous? Dance inevitably, like all other things, occur within the context of a culture. Certain structures and rhythms characterize types of dance. This formal aspect, within a cultural manifestation of dance, somehow preserves both structure and spontaneity. The birth of a particular dance shows the spontaneity of a culture, and the continuance of that dance shows a regulative structure. Even if a culture expresses a dance style that appears as a succession of spontaneous motions, this still becomes a regulative structure informing its members how to dance. Unavoidably similar patterns occur. Conversely, those static dances completely choreographed as an expression of fidelity to a particular cultural tradition also begun once as a spontaneous expression. Even in the imitations of completely traditional and structured dances, elements like music, clothing, and personal significance change with each new generation and performance. Every mimicking of a traditional dance is a new expression because the performers dance as individuals with their own body in a different time and space distinct from any other historical expression. Accordingly, every mode of

imitation authenticates itself as original by virtue of the individuality irreducible to the community. Moreover, alongside traditional dances, new dances emerge in the evolution of musical development and culture itself.

Lexically, culture and tradition evolve from habitual innovative conventions of individuals. Dance becomes a cultivation of diversity. So dance, like culture, strives to express value and preserve that value while maintaining the possibility of new expression. Otherwise the dance, like the expressive culture, becomes stagnate and limited. The ideal type of dance both bears the burden of tradition, structure, while opening up new possibilities, spontaneity, since this is how culture itself operates. The culture provides a framework of style under which the individual in respect to dance can: creatively decide what combination of moves to perform, deviate by incorporating personality and innovation into old moves, or produce new

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