World of Dance Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Dance: If someone from a different planet were to come to earth, how would you describe to that being what dance is, how it fits into societies, what it means to both you and others in the world, and what role it plays in your lives?

Perhaps dance might not seem, on its surface, to be the easiest thing to describe to a visitor from another planet, who has come to earth to learn about our world's culture partly by studying dance. Earth is, by and large, an intensely verbal society and to overemphasize dance might seem to belie this fact. But dance is also universal, unlike language -- therefore the visitor may have chosen wisely in his or her subject choice. In fact, using dance to describe this world's society can be quite powerful, because dance as individual, collective, and performance-based movement is a way to transcend some of the linguistic and cultural barriers that exist between people -- and would exist between an individual from an alien world and earthlings

In words, perhaps the best definition of dance is any form of movement where the movement is more important than the meaning of the movement. Yes, of course, dances can mean a variety of things. But to take this visitor to a ballet of "Swan Lake," for example, would illustrate that it is not the story of the young woman who has been transformed into a swan that is of primary importance when analyzing the movement -- were that the case, then one would simply read the original fable. Rather, it is the interaction between intricately choreographed dance steps and the mind and body of the trained ballet dancer that makes the movement of the dance so powerful and significant. Also, the interaction between the observing audience, hopefully rapt in attention, and the performers on the stage likewise give the ballet its meaning and cultural value.

But is this the only way people dance on earth, the visitor might ask? Not at all, one would respond -- and then take the visitor to a dance club, and watch individuals exhibit the most cutting-edge kinesthetic steps, filled with the life and energy of the street and innovation. As in the ballet, however, the movement to music is all-important. The movement and pulse of rhythm creates meaning and gives significance to the motions of the…

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Works Cited

Jonas, Gerald. Dancing: The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1992.

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