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Is It Dance?

Imagine an evening out.  You’ve had a lovely dinner, a stroll through the city, and now you are on your way to the theatre to see a dance performance.  Before you arrive, you already have an idea of what you might be seeing. Perhaps you expect themed costumes, athletic jumps, and musically inclined movement.  Perhaps this is a historic dance that’s been performed again and again. Maybe this is a brand new choreographer that is premiering a new work. Somehow you already have an idea of what you will see.

Imagine the curtain opens to reveal a game of basketball.  You see each player wearing their matching jerseys, people jumping high to make each shot, and a buzzer blaring loudly to keep score.  The team members have practiced this game for years, aiming to perfect their technique. How do you feel watching this game? Was this outside of your expectations?

We’ve been asking ourselves this question in Year 5, trying to figure out “What is and isn’t dance”.  Working through the Juilliard Creative Classroom, we created imaginary sports then developed movements we would use to warm up for practice.  We shared these warm ups in a performance setting to music. Somewhere in the process our warm up moves became a performance.  

So far, we have had a lively debate trying to decide when or if this became a dance.  This week we have challenged ourselves to look to the outside world and beg the question “Is it or isn’t it dance?”  We would like to pass on that challenge to you! Throughout the next few weeks, challenge the world around you by looking through a critical lens, and think about how to categorize your experiences.  We look forward to hearing what you discover!

-Hayley Barker, Dance Specialist 

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