If art forms are birthed from new explorations and recombination of existing forms, then limiting oneself to maintaining a purist adherence to any form is to limit oneself to the past.
I believe strongly in the study and preservation of purist forms, but even more strongly,
I believe in the "authenticity" of this moment's dance. Our dance today is the purist form of the future.
The beautiful discoveries we make about ourselves when we allow
diverse influences to inspire our creative expression cannot be denied. And, may even set us free.
We know diverse genetic recombination in nature produces the most desirable traits in future generations,
narrow genetic selection seems to surface only the negative. Your personal artistic expression through dance, or otherwise, is
valid and authentic, as is anyone's at any point in history.
My personal dance journey began with modern dance at age 9. I was drawn to the frequently percussive music and
interpretive nature of the dance. I understood the feelings and ideas being expressed,
because the communication came from a very improvisational and personal, even intimate, source.
I followed with the study and rigor of ballet and jazz, which broadened my vocabulary of movement.
I also flirted with martial arts and disco danced competitively in the early 80's, but still,
my heart belonged to modern dance.
After college, a friend plugged me into Middle Eastern dance at a festival in St. Louis. It was love at first shimmy!
I craved to be close to the dancers, so close, that I sat on cross-legged and mesmerized at the edge of the dance floor all evening.
It wasn't until eight years of Middle Eastern dance study had passed
that I understood the entire Modern dance movement of the 1900's was inspired by native ethnic dances of Persia, the Middle East, North Africa and the Caribbean.
Realization brought me full circle, to my roots, as a child in dance and as a woman of eternal dance.
That day I decided to stop restricting my dance to replicating specific forms, but to marry them, breed them, letting
all the dances entwine like lovers in my heart. The dance I make from that place is transcendent. For me,
it is the most reverent/sacred/peace-filled unification of mind, body and spirit. It is my offering/meditation/prayer,
whatever label you want to give it, it is my devotional dance. It is my spiritual space.
The question is...what will that place be for you? Will powerful communication pour from your gracious limbs,
when you surrender to uninhibited dance expression, or will it be a private dance of celebration? It's all about what it means to you.
Let's find out, shall we?
Ruth St. Denis (Baltic),
the mother of modern dance.
From the collection of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, as posted by
ShanMonster in her awesome image gallery.
first brought Afro-Carribean dance to the US. Learn more about African American
contributions to modern dance in the PBS series Free