Why.

For five years (2004-2009) I solely dedicated my life to dancing. I then turned my back completely on the (dance)world I loved; learning to hate and find pointless the thing I thought was going to be my life. I have been to one ballet class since finishing uni, nothing else.

After nearly two years; I finally miss stretching, moving, creating, disjointing and breaking down shapes the body can make. I want to create a twisted ballet, live piercing and bendy/contorted freakshow. I miss dancing and choreography, yet still hate the dance world and the people it attracts and feeds off. Soon I am returning to ballet classes. This is dubious and intimidating.

With the knowledge and experience of dance I have, it is a very pointless artform. Who wants to go and watch a dance show? Why would you? Is there really any point to dance apart from fitness? The majority of people it attracts have little knowledge of anything other than their hair, what Jordan said last night and latest Hollister practise clothing.

How can the Arts, in particular dance, be justified?  Why does anyone have the right to dedicate their life and their time to something that is essentially something that has no point other than fitness and entertainment (often dire entertainment, especially if you have no experience or knowledge of dance). Surely there are plenty more worthwhile things that can be done other than prance about a studio and showcase your work to mostly, other dancers. What is the point? Why should the arts be given a right to exist or a hierarchical place above anything else? Are there not more pressing issues that need to be addressed and focused on in the world? Poverty, basic human rights, worldwide provision of basic human necessities such as water, support for victims of torture or trauma, the preservation of our world could be examples.

Can money (despite funding cuts to the arts) be pumped into something that is not a necessity? If you strip down everything in life to the bare bones of there essence – the arts are not ‘needed’. The arts are  a luxury, an amusement. Don’t get me wrong, they have their place – expression, creativity, an emotional outlet, inspiration.

I need a reason greater than just ‘I enjoy it’ to dance again. I have come back to what I call University thinking. Constantly questioning everything, trying to ascertain a reason ‘why’, a solid answer or reason for something or anything, being able to back up my own work with relevant theory or experience. Breaking things down to the most basic element, the essence of ‘what’ something is, or why it should be done, is not a bad thing, although unsettling to work out where an idea or anything, comes from.

Currently I need a reason to start dancing again. I need to solidly be able to say why I should be doing this rather than something more worthwhile to society or societies views and followings. I can’t justify this right now and this bothers me. Any opinions or thoughts on why dance or any art should be followed, practised, watched, are important/not important to people personally or to our culture

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10 Comments

  1. You need a reason? – ‘…moving, creating, disjointing and breaking down shapes the body can make’
    There’s a reason right there. Do it not only because you enjoy it, but because you are one of the people who CAN. Expression, whether or not it is anyone’s particular cup of tea or even slightly relevant, is pretty much always valid. In my mind, the idea of art in any facet is to bring joy to a dull world, to shine a light on something beautiful or ugly alike; to reflect on the world around you in a less than standard sense. If you can express something when you dance, if you can take a piece of yourself and place it to music, put your heart and soul into it and find happiness by doing so, what more justification do you need?

    In a world of frequent tedium and heartache, why not do something that makes you happy and find validity in the fact that you’re being the best you can be in a particular area? x

    • I need a reason for everything at the moment! I have lost the point of pretty much everything and existence seems to be all there is – so all that can be done is question it and get on with it.
      I like your reply and reasoning though. Thank you 🙂

  2. You need a reason…. Is it motivation you need, or do you feel that you need to give dance more meaning in today’s society? Well either way the bottom line is that no it isn’t important when you try to over analyse it, but that applies to everything in the world and beyond, because ultimately everything we do is utterly futile, we will in time all die and nothing will remain so what is the point of it all. If you’re reading this and the first thing you did was disagree then you’re kind of answering your own question. Honestly there is nothing wrong with dancing because it makes you happy and in turn that will make others happy, can you think of a better gift to anyone than making them happy. Your life and what you do with it doesn’t have to reflect what other people feel, just because some anal retentive arse bashes the arts doesn’t make it true. I love to see people dance myself because I cannot (im assuming jumping about after 6 pints don’t count). Your life will be the sum of your memories, or at least that’s how I look at it. The fear of looking back over my life and thinking what a fucking waste is my drive, it works so I keep it. I know you wanted more of a reason than “because I enjoy it” but really what is wrong with that? If you do that you can look back at happy memories, not ones that you felt you needed to provide in order to validate yourself. And yes there is poverty and injustice but then there always will be, regardless of arts funding. But then I also think you know all of this already. If that is the case then what is the real question.

    • ‘either way the bottom line is that no it isn’t important when you try to over analyse it, but that applies to everything in the world and beyond, because ultimately everything we do is utterly futile’
      I think this is maybe part of my point – everything is futile and I am trying to find an understanding for myself why I should bother with dancing, or anything for that matter.
      Doing something just because it makes me happy doesnt seem to be a good reason to pursue something – although making others happy because I am happy is a pretty good reason – I’m not sure dance does make me happy, but I certainly miss it, possibly this is just a comfort thing as its something I know and can do if I put my mind to it. Im not sure what the point of this post was anymore, think I am channelling my ideas on life into the concept/idea of dance rather than dealing with what is behind that.

      And jumping about after 6 pints certainly counts 🙂

      • First time I met you was in China, as I recall there was a group of us that went for out for a meal. We where the only ones there on a roof top garden, the food was great and the sky at night was beautiful. Back then as now I believed that everything was ultimately futile but that didn’t stop me from having four amazing years living in China, all because that’s what I wanted to do because it made me happy. I have some incredible memories from that and doing all of those things that made me happy, like having dinner on a roof top. Do I need to validate my actions of wondering around countries doing stuff that made me smile? Well if I do then all of the things I have done collectively have made me who I am today, and that to me is enough. I guess what im trying to say is live for your self first, the rest of the world can come next. Does dancing still make you happy?

        • The time in China definitely shaped my life; i’l never forget that. Seeing the world from the point of view we had then – as rich westerners – was humbling. Not something I was overly comfortable with either, I had no reason apart from the fact I happened to be born into a western country, to be in that situation. Rooftop garden, expensive food, waited on, treated like I was important simply because I happened to have walked into Beijing in a better financial position to the vast majority of people in that City, let alone country.
          That trip is definitely one thing in life that made me incredibly happy.
          That is something I should remember more.
          Dancing, I still don’t know. I have big problems with the dance world. I don’t know if its something I did/can still do, because I can do it and its comfortable. It is something I know. Comfort is not a good reason for me to do something. I do love it, but I put too much pressure on myself with it, and its fucking frustrating! Im gonna give it another go, though. I can only try. Giving up is easy, if it doesnt work.
          Maybe i’ll see you in China or some other country one day! Thanks for the rooftop memory 🙂

  3. When I was 3 my parents sent me to a dancing lessons as a way of socialising with other kids… I continued with it all thru my teenage years and my last lesson was just before I turned 19 when I came to england. I love dancing and for years I just missed soooo much. Dancing was to me a way of fitness, a way of releasing energy, a way of relaxing but what I enjoyed most about dancing was the amount of knowledge I gained thru it, not just about my body and the muscles in it but also about my heritage, history and traditions.
    Dancing is a way of sending a message to the world. Behind every good choreography should be a good story and a message. Unfortunately not everyone understands that… I remember one of the competitions we done; our teacher was coming out before the curtains opened telling the story behind what we were going to do, a story that the public was then able to relate to because of their ruts and origins. The other groups also had choreographies with a back story, we all could see it, they just did not had a narrator and but unfortunately for them I don’t think the public quiet got it coz at the end of the show they kept talking about ours and how good it was and the fact that it was based on something and how certain actions were represented….bla,bla,bla…..
    Just think capoeira, Irish dancing or the swan lake that is not just dancing… there is a message and a story behind. You talk about other issues that should be given priority over dance, political issues, human rights, victims of torture and trauma but you are forgetting that capoeira was a silent shout and fight against exactly all of that. The point is that arts are a way of expressing your self, telling a story and keeping history alive and in a lot of the cases they also have political reasons.
    You need to be fit to be a dancer but dancing is not just about fitness. Dance girl, dance, tell the world your story and keep it alive! xxx

  4. Dance, as an artform, certainly is inclined to stray into the realms of lofty pretension, commercial exploitation and shallow body-consciousness; you asked for a reason to involve yourself: I should think that having both the talent to achieve a degree via an exemplary dissertation and the critical awareness you clearly have of those problems of relevance almost constitutes a duty, never mind a reason!

    As a form of communication, dance is both more powerful and more subtle than speech or writing, conveying essential human-human and human-environmental interactions directly into the mind of the observer via the brain’s visual processing apparatus (please excuse me dragging my own academic interests in here, I’ll try to keep it to a minimum), which includes nerves that map the perceived experiences and sensations of the subject (in this case, the dancer) *directly* onto the viewer’s own body-image: i.e., which enforces a degree of empathy, however firmly denied by the ego. And every passing of strangers or barely-acquainted co-workers in a corridor is a ‘dance’ in this sense.

    Thus Dance, The Artform, binds the symbols (words) of more convenient but less expressive communicative forms to the realities of human experience, and the strength and versatility of this binding determines the effectiveness of those forms. This in turn determines the usefulness of speech and text in our cooperation to address the kind of real-world issues you’ve listed.

    TL;DR: Dance and other Arts, whether practised intentionally or otherwise, form an essential bridge between immediate experience and symbolic communication, which is necessary for Society to address the problems it faces. You’re good at it, and you care enough to criticize it, so you should probably do it.

  5. Several good points about expression and creativity are made above.
    How about adding the idea of celebration of the human body? Not something as crass as its individual shape so much as the glory of its ability to move and create images, to flex and to delight?
    How can you deny that to inspire and impassion others has no value? Any art-form can showcase an ideal, a fear, a hope or a change. Why not talk about world-hunger through dance? Or raise money to school children or offer therapy for the abused in expression without words?
    Find the language and the passion to do something you care about and treasure what you have in your ability to move and your chance to dance, celebrate your own body’s beauty and expression by cherishing and using it and then use your skills to change something for someone else – even if you can only offer them one moment of forgetting themselves in the beauty of the dance.

  6. So why do something that you don’t feel is worthy or worthwhile? My question would be why aren’t you working for a charity in Haiti for example? Because that is not something you want to do, don’t apologise for doing what you want to do, instead do it. People are responsible for their own actions, and not the actions of others, dance, earn money, give a 1/4 to charity if that’s what you want.
    If nothing has meaning ultimately then you are free to do what you want without worrying whether it is worthy or not. Enjoy that freedom, nihilism is liberating 🙂


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