The Dance World is made up of several large countries, some smaller provinces and many big cities…however the sense of community between them, the community they continue to build and the community they foster all enable dance to be the cultural and societal force that it is.
Dance has long been deeply rooted in culture and tradition, pride in one’s location and the skills of their people, embodying the history of a nation to be relived over and again for future generations so they may know and experience where their people have been. It is political and apolitical, it is emotional and devoid of emotion, it is both all things and nothing and in this ambiguity there is a glorious freedom.
Through the ages, it has tied people together, bridged the gaps between spoken and written languages, expressed the common experience of a body in motion uniting us within that shared medium.
Community can denote many different things, but in this instance, I believe it is most apt to return to the Latin cognates from the French term communité: the Latin cum, “with/together” and munus, “gift”. Together, With A Gift.
As National Dance Day once again kicks off at the end of this week, it reminds me that one of the most beautiful things we can do as human beings, is to give of oneself in the hopes of reaching another person, connecting with another person. Dance is, for many reasons, a universal vocabulary and offers us the opportunity to come together, with that gift.
I often point out things that So You Think You Can Dance can do better, must do better in my opinion, to keep the dialogue open and push the education of its audience. But that is not to say that they haven’t made huge leaps forward for the Dance World and all of the good it can foster. Since it’s inception one thing that has always been present on the show – though not necessarily instigated by the format or even the hosts – is modeling community.
Dancers, while innately competitive, come together with their gift and through that honest interaction, form tight bonds akin to a family, in some ways even stronger than a family bond – because you can’t always connect on such levels as pure artistic integrity, honest raw emotion, and genuine need like you can with other artists. You can’t create in a vacuum, but more so, artists really can’t exist without tapping into that somehow – as any artist can tell you, a part of us truly dies.
For all their differences in personality, training, home lives, sexuality, age, experience, religious upbringing, fashion, work ethics….you can go on and on and on….none of that matters in the Dance World. Because, in the Dance World while we struggle for personal bests, to win the role, even to win a title – in the end we release our differences in an effort to become solely devoted, singularly immersed within the dance in the hopes that we may find that place where we are both a repository and a vessel for the common experiences of bodies in motion – re-examining life, crystallizing emotion, calling attention to the details and nuances of humanity.
In those moments of exquisite humanity – we come together, with a gift.
Happy Dance Day Everyone!
BIO: Contributor Kimberly Peterson is a transplant to Minneapolis from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She has received her Bachelors and Masters of Arts degrees from Texas Woman’s University’s prestigious dance program.
Her graduate research entitled: B-Sides: Independent Record Labels and the Representation of Dancers explored the parallels between the independent music industry and current methods of dancer representation. This research has produced a vision of a for-profit system of representation for the arts based largely on the institutional structures of independent record labels, for profit businesses, and the unique atmosphere of her time at Texas Woman’s University. This research is still developing and Kimberly continues to develop her research for future presentation and publication.
She has taught as a substitute teacher for Denton Dance Conservatory, a pilot after-school program with the Greater Denton Arts Council, a master class series with Dance Fusion and a number of personally choreographed works. She has also served from 2000-2004 as the assistant to the coordinator of KidsDance: Rhythms for Life – a lecture demonstration on the principles of dance to area second graders that is now in its 11th season.
Drawing on her experience with producing dance works, Kimberly has served as a lighting designer, stage manager, event coordinator, volunteer and as an advisor in various roles: most recently RedEye Theatre, The Soap Factory, Minnesota Fringe Festival and MNPR’s Rock the Garden in collaboration with the Walker Arts Center.
She was also a featured choreographer, representing her university at the American College Dance Festival Association’s South Central Region’s informal concert series in 2002. Her work has been commissioned by Tarrant County College in 2006 and has been set upon Zenon Dance Studio’s scholarship dancers as a featured choreographer in 2010.