“I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express what it too deep to find for words.” ~Ruth St. Denis
How can we watch a performance and follow a story with no words? Why do we weep at the play between dancers on stage during sad on poignant moments? What is something so intangible that one look can convey a page’s worth of information? Sure, the music helps a lot and if there’s a program it might give us a little synopsis to follow, but in the end…
It all comes down to body language.
Dancing is more than just moving your feet in a prescribed pattern of steps. Dance involves the entire body, every muscle–even some you never knew you had!* This includes all those muscles in the face that smile, frown, grimace and do everything else. (q.v. “With One Look” from Sunset Boulevard)
Sometimes there are no words.
Usually it’s in times of grief that words take a back seat but even in happy moments, sometimes it’s best to beam at someone’s happy news, jump up and down, clap your hands and just be excited with them rather than say something. Why? Because words are more easily misunderstood than actions.
Any question you ask of a celebrant can (unintentionally, I’m sure) pinpoint that spark of insecurity that even the most self-confident person possesses. You end up in a “why can’t you just be happy for me” kind of thing. By the same token, a true smile has no subtext. Just the way a cold shoulder given to another will more effectively communicate disdain and dislike than a tirade of angry, hurtful words.
So when we dance on stage for others or just delicately step our way through human moments of the day-to-day, it helps to remember that our body’s are talking, too. Sometimes more loudly than our words.*Seriously. During my first bellydance lessons I learned that the basic hip movements are controlled by muscles along the side of your torso. It wasn’t apparent the first day or two, but after that, they told me exactly where they were and how indignant they were at finally being put to use. I have yet to find anything else they do other than hip raises and drops!