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Kalay Mordock
Invitation to the Dance - Reflections
United States
New York
Ithaca, NY

The interpretation of the heartbeat in the rhythms around us

by Kalay Mordock
August 9, 2000
Ithaca, NY

The interpretation of the heartbeat in the rhythms around us

Kalay Mordock

August 9, 2000

I was asked to write an article on dance and sat down to consider what I might say or research. I racked my brains and thought of many angles and realized that dance is not an academic pursuit of comparisons and analysis, but a pursuit of the heart. (Although historical perspective is interesting as an academic pursuit.) When asked why I dance, I can only say that it feeds my soul, a deep inner need to connect mind and body, to explore space, to rejoice in the movement of my body to rhythm. Dance is poetry. It is the interpretation of music through movement. The interpretation of the heartbeat in the rhythms around us. It is a basic human need to move to the drum since the beginning of man.

I envision the first dancers sitting around tapping on stones. Awaking the inner rhythm around a circle of fire. Listening to their inner beats and answering the call. Playing out the cycles of nature and storytelling through movement. Dance is the embodiment of one's culture. It is the collective unconscious of a people understanding their emotions and world. Think of the reserved but fluid waltz, the disciplined ballet, the rebellious gypsy flamenco, the stylized dances of Asia, the dual between the rigid spine and the flying feet of Celtic dance. Does one not see a parallel between the disciplines of life and the embodiment of the dance?

Dance began as a community endeavor. A way for people to communicate without words. A celebration of life, death, birth, marriage, romance, war and sexuality. All the themes that govern our own steps from birth to death. Dance can be a rigid discipline where the dancers follow a set of rules, or an improvisation of personal movement. It is a friendly competition, a conversation, a secretive romance. It is the coming together of the community to share their dreams, anguish, and stories. Over time, dance began to leave the community circles and become a discipline to study in its own right. Artists began pushing the boundaries and creating new styles. The dance moved its tripping feet onto stages and became performance. People now sat and watched the dance. Dance became a passive endeavor. But, can one truly experience the rawest form of human expression by being a voyeur? Will one know the wonderful feeling of freedom and release, the joining of mind and body, by sitting? Community dance still existed, but many people over the ages forgot to dance. Only those called by an inner voice continued to explore the spiritual and physical realms of movement. Dance went underground to disco's and clubs where raw energy still abounds. But can a community truly come together without this oldest of community experiences? As people gave up the dance, I think they gave up a little bit of their soul. They forgot to listen to the heartbeat. Their minds and bodies have become estranged. Living in their heads has allowed the body to wither. The rage, pent up sexuality, joy and sorrow that dance once released has no outlet. The collective unconscious burrows underground to spark flares in destructive ways.

But as the pent up emotions of society become overwhelming, I have noticed resurgence in the dance. Community dance is coming back. People are being called by the rhythm as African dance, Latin dance and Swing capture the hearts of many. People are once again conversing. If this remains, dance will have a place once again in the public eye. Dance, whether on stage, in a club, or in the community, will help to alleviate our stress, lift our spirits and bring us back in touch with what makes us human.

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