While many children are quick to get up on their feet and move to a song, as adults they tend to hold back. This is different when they’re dancers. These are the joyful, unmediated people who cannot keep from expressing themselves with their bodies. And as an archetype they bring a certain lightness of step not just to the stage or dance floor, but to everything they do.
Dance has been around since the beginning of civilization. It was an important part of countless rituals and ceremonies for pagan gods, many of which still exist in some form today. From the holy rollers in Christian Evangelical revivals to the trance dancers in Indonesia, ritualistic dancing remains an important vehicle for spiritual transcendence.
When the ritual is one of performance, there is a spirit of transcendence in the work of the best dancers. The director Michael Powell captured this in The Red Shoes, his adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale about a girl who cannot stop dancing. In the film, she is a ballerina who chooses her art form over love and life itself.
Perhaps it is this spiritual aspect that comes through when we see our favorite dancers today, whether it’s Mikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp, Gregory Hines, Michael Jackson, Madonna, or of good old Hollywood dancers Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers, and Fred Astaire, who summed up his effortless ability this way: “I just put my feet on the ground and move them around”
Bob Fosse, Margot Fonteyn, George Balanchine, Alvin Ailey, Paloma Herrera, Savion Glover, Paula Abdul
Dancers are an appealing combination of physically fit and stylish. They are quick to react and fun to be with whenever there’s a good beat around.
At times they can be too impulsive, unable to sit still to think problems through. And they can be more concerned with physical fitness than mental health.
Training, fitness, nutrition, music, adulation
- Dancing Through History by Joan Cass
- My Life by Isadora Duncan
- Moving History/Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader by Ann Dils and Ann Cooper Albright
- Nijinksy: A Life of Genius and Madness by Richard Buckle
- Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance: Awakening Spirituality through Movement & Ritual by Iris J. Stewart
- Dancing On My Grave: An Autobiography by Gelsey Kirkland
“I don’t want people who want to dance. I want people who have to dance.” -George Balanchine