Sharing the struggles and celebrating the triumphs of being African American in the ballet world and beyond.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Universal Language

Does dance speak to everyone? Can it bridge socioeconomic, gender and cultural divides? I pondered this question as I watched videos featuring different forms of dance this past week. Though very different from the classical style that occupied so much of my career, I still felt a kinship with the dancers—a oneness with the movement.

On the news the other day, a group of dancers from Oakland, CA were featured. The group was impressionable, not only for their talent but for their message.  The commentary described dance as an "international language." However, clich├Ęd as the description may be, this time it resonated quite differently with me. It caused me to reflect deeper on the power and potential of dance. With this realization, I wondered if we as dancers are maximizing its potential. I'm not so sure.


A former Alvin Ailey member posted this Brazilian dancers emotional interpretation of The Dying Swan on Facebook. Although, utterly different from any interpretation most of us were accustomed to, its impact was no less powerful, and prompted dozens to share their thoughts and feelings.

This is an example of how one voice can open minds, change perspectives and unleash worlds of posssibility. In the same way, dancing as a form of expression can be used as a vehicle to wash away institutions of thought that keep people divided and our humanity deprived of its colorful beauty. I am noticing this trend more and more with Urban styles of dance, I wonder if ballet could create this type of impact?

If dance truly is a universal language, what would you want your art to say?