In a world full of different countries, different cultures, widely varied customs and traditions, different languages, there are some things that do not require words to be understood. Perhaps the most common and celebrated is music, itself as varied as the peoples of the world. Music is a language in and of itself, absorbed into the deepest parts of the human psyche, and capable of changing how we act and feel.
Music itself has many, many faces. From the aboriginal rhythms of Australia to Aida at the Metropolitan Opera, music is music and imprints its rhythms and melodic harmonies – or disharmonies – upon us, helping to shape who we are are as individuals, or as peoples or nations.
When music hits deep chords within us, so poignantly, so sharply that we feel a compulsion to join back to the music that joined with us, then participatory dance is born. We are compelled to join with the music, and express to the world how we have been impacted, how we feel, and what better way to express this than through dance?
Dance can be a solo expression, as David biblically danced to the Lord in his joy, or solo-within-group expressions as a dance is expressed in a disco setting, or street dancing. Here are a number of dance expressions.
(with thanks to YouTube uploaders listed below the videos)
We have ceremonial dances, war dances…
…exotic dances like the hula, Native American dances…
…celebratory dances, figure skating, rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming (also lovely forms of dance)…
There is theatrical dance, where we participate as spectators, while the performers enchant us on stage or on a movie set, ranging from ballet…
…to tap dancing (modern)…
…to tap dancing (classic)…
…to swing dancing, including the energy-packed Lindy Hop…
…to modern, and oriental dramas. All these are touching and expressive, and highly memorable. Who can ever forget watching the meditative dance of a Turkish Whirling Dervish… (one hand up, receiving from God, one hand down, giving to others)
.. or a dynamic Cossack dance…
…or Russian dancing…
…or a highland fling…
…or the traditional Japanese Awa Dance…
…or precision street dancing, Japanese style…
…or Classical Indian dance (displaying three different styles)…
…or traditional Irish dancing such as Riverdance?
Is there such a thing as drum dancing? I think there should be…
(Youtube contributors from above: RugbyBanterPage, RandyShirley, IronEagle444, Proacguy1, WarnerClassicsTV, Ostanin2011, docludi2, swingcatVB, 4transform, DenysDronov, MrKrolik76, weekendsinontario, BothNations俊, OfficialHHI, WorldOrder, NitishaNanda, WaleedAl-Ashari and JeffEasterling)
Wikipedia tells me that there is archeological evidence for early dance from 9,000 year old paintings in India at the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, and Egyptian tomb paintings depicting dancing figures around 3300 BC. I like to think that dancing is much older than that. I think it started with a happy caveman hunter who brought home fresh meat and celebrated in a victory dance around the fire, with a full belly and a happy heart. Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch and Lucian refer to Greek dance. In Chinese pottery as early as the Neolithic period, groups of people are depicted dancing in a line holding hands.
There are so many descriptions of dance forms developed over time – the jig, waltz, tango, disco, salsa, street. South Asian dancing has many regional varieties of Indian classical dance, relating to ancient harvest celebrations, love, patriotism or social issues. Sri Lankan dances include the devil dances, a ritual reaching back into pre-buddhism past.
Ballet originated in the 15th century Italian Renaissance, was further developed in France, other European nations and Russia and was soon embraced in North American culture.
20th century concert dance provided great changes in dance styles and techniques. African American dance developed, as well as tap dancing, disco dancing, jazz dancing, swing dancing, hip hop dancing, and rock and roll variations.
Participatory dance can range from folk to line dancing, square dancing, or ballroom dancing. I call this social dancing, and words are rarely needed to participate, just people and music and emotion.
Dancing has always been a wonderful way to introduce yourself to the opposite sex. I remember very well how we, as teenagers, waited for the weekends so that we could go dancing. Growing up in Owen Sound, it was wonderful to have a dance at City Hall every Saturday, at a service club every Friday, at some of our beautiful beaches like Balmy and Sauble, with big bands, or at some of the little towns around the city, where churches and social groups held dances.
I still remember the excitement of dancing for the first time with my husband-to-be-but-I-didn’t-know-it-yet, my lifelong sweetheart. I still remember drinking in the intense good looks of his Irish-Scottish heritage, as he gracefully and purposefully crossed the huge room of the City Hall auditorium to ask me to dance. I well remember the thrill of the dance with him, confirming to my heart before the dance was over, that he would be The One. I just knew. What a graceful dancer! What an attentive partner! The moment was magic for me. Of course the dance is an introduction to courtship, but it leaves a graceful path to saying “no” to someone too. I knew I would not be saying “no” to this beautiful, big Canadian.
My Mom and Dad were amazing on the dance floor. I often wonder where these two unique and vibrant people learned how to do all the things they knew how to do, coming from small western farming communities. At many of the local dances we attended with them here in the east, people would stop their own dancing just to watch my parents waltz together, or polka, or do the Charleston – they were that electric! In fact, my Dad invented a couple of Charleston steps – one of which was called the “Collie-Wobble” if I remember rightly. My brother and I also learned some of their dance techniques and in our own right, (especially with the Charleston because it was such a novelty) were show stoppers. Mom and Dad were fond of dancing at home too, when they were alone together, and that is a happy habit my husband and I picked up from them. The cares of the day fade into nothingness when you are listening to music you love, and dancing to it together.
My favourite memory of all when I think of dancing is when my daughter was little, and her Dad very solemnly first invited her to dance with him. He had her step onto his size 13 shoes, gently held her hands and moved her through an unforgettable moment of music, and love.
I wish the world would stand still now and then and just let the music enfold them, fill them, encourage them to step out and let the Dance bring beauty, grace, energy, excitement and joyful feelings into their hearts.
Invitation To The Dance
You bend a little
reaching for my hand
inviting me to dance.
feeling electric tingles
at your magic touch.
The music starts
and we begin
to join our lives
Through The Dance.
© E J Finn / Collie
Choosing music with a dancing theme for Mom’s blog has been a real treat for me. Don’t look for anything too modern here as I’ve reached back to prior decades for these gems. I’ve decided to start the tunes off with a touching and emotional video produced in 1984 with one of Mom’s all-time favourite songs by Leonard Cohen entitled “Dance Me (to the end of love)” (LeonardCohenVEVO)
This is an elegant polka from the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein 1951 musical “The King and I” called “Shall We Dance?” performed, with both song and dance, by Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner (Rodgers and Hammerstein)
“The Anniversary Song” with the lovely opening lyrics “Oh, how we danced on the night we were wed” , composed by Ion Ivanovici in 1880, adapted by Al Jolson in 1946 and performed here in 1974 by Norma Zimmer, Jimmy Roberts and the Lawrence Welk singers and danced to by Lawrence Welk himself with his wife Fern (Chris Pikal)
Here’s “Dancing in the Dark” written by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwarz, gracefully danced to by my favourite, Fred Astaire, and the lovely Cyd Charisse from the 1953 movie musical “The Band Wagon” (CiroBossi)
“Begin The Beguine” is a tropically beautiful Cole Porter tune shown here with the amazing tap dancing of Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell from the movie “Broadway Melody of 1940” (tiberiuswoodyboyd)
(Take a moment to read these quotations; they will lift you up.)
Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music. (George Carlin)
We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. (F. Nietzsche)
Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’re torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free. (Rum)
Do a loony-goony dance ‘Cross the kitchen floor, Put something silly in the world That ain’t been there before. (Shel Silverstein)
Dance and sing to your music. (Steve Maraboli)
Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. (Martha Graham)
Life is the dancer and you are the dance. (Elkhart Tolle)
Join the dance. (Alan W Watts)
Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair… (Susan Polis Schutz)
Dance upon the mountains like a flame. (W. B. Yeats)
I keep on dancing… and dancing… and dancing. Until there is only… the dance. (M. Jackson)
I only try to dance better than myself. (Mikhail Baryshnikov)
To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful… (Agnes De Mille)
It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. (Xiaolu Guo)
Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. (Kurt Vonnegut)
Dance like there’s nobody watching…. Just keep dancing. (Jarod Kintz)
Dance for yourself. (Louis Horst)
Dance, dance, dance till you drop. (WH Auden)
They danced by the light of the moon (Edward Lear)
Life is short and there will always be dirty dishes, so let’s dance. (James Howe)
Dance breaks. Lots of dance breaks. (Jenny Han)
The Dance is love, it is only love, it alone, and that is enough. (Isadora Duncan)
Dance is the expression of man — the landscape of his soul. (Martha Graham)
Dance has the power to silence the chatter in the mind and lift us to another place. (R.McKee)
I want to slow dance with you again. I want to dance with you forever. (Sarah Black)
It is my dance. It is my moment. It is mine. And dance I will. (Dan Pearce)
When you truly dance, you dance yourself free. (Jay Woodman)
You can dance in the storm. (Israelmore Ayivor)
You just can’t fall when you get into the rhythm of the dance. (Jack Kerouac)
I will dance all the dances I can. (SARK)
Dance in the wind of happiness. (Santos Salwar)
Dancing is creating a sculpture that is visible only for a moment. (Errol Ozan)
Dancing is the body’s song. (Lynne Sharon Schwartz)
You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams. (Gene Kelly)
Dance with me within the wind… let me love you. (Oksana Rus)
We danced forever, and not nearly long enough. (Jodi Meadows)
Fly high, feel the music, and forever dance free. (Phoenix Z Courtney)
Dancing faces you towards Heaven, whichever direction you turn. (Terri Guillemots)
There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them. (Vicki Baum)
To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak. (Hopi Indian saying)
If you’re feeling blue, lock yourself in a room, stand in front of a mirror, & dance. (S. Hayek)
When I’m happy, I just want to dance. (Marjane Satrapi)
You live as long as you dance. (Rudolf Nureyev)
Critters like to dance, too..
I invite you all to dance a little, where and when you can, alone or with a partner, and give yourself a lift …..
Till next time! — EJ