Sunday, December 6, 2009

dance dance revolution

I used to really hate dance. Watching any kind of dance bored me. I couldn't understand the point of the arbitrary motions, which so often felt cheesy and ridiculous. When I taught Humanities 101 I knew that I would have to have a unit on dance, and I also knew that the fact that I hated dance so much would make it difficult. So I decided to try a little harder to appreciate dance, to learn from what I taught my students. It's been a slow process but I think I'm beginning to really love dance like I've never loved it before.

Tonight I went to BYU's Christmas Around the World, a folk dance show that they've been doing for the last 50 years. BYU has the biggest World Dance program in the world, and the dancers are extremely talented. I hate saying this, but I was moved to tears at the very first number, and it was not the first time this has happened. Since I've been trying harder to understand and appreciate dance, I'm finding that I can't help but cry when I watch a dance performance. The energy they create is palpable, and I'm so impressed with the talent that I just tear up. I hate even more saying this, but I cried when I watched the finale of Dancing With the Stars last week. I couldn't help it. Kelly Osborne was so beautiful and had worked so hard, and you could tell how happy she was with herself even though she didnt win. Her experience was life changing and it was really incredible to watch her dance. And Donny Osmond was so humble and wanted so much to have that trophy that he worked his hardest while still being incredibly supportive of the other competetors. It's true he's been a performer for some time, but to dance ballroom like that he had to force himself to change a lot of his habits, and he was incredibly graceful in doing so. I just loved watching these people have so much passion in their dances. I wept like a baby. And then tonight it happened again. I don't know what's happening to me.

One thing that I thought was particularly interesting during the Christmas performance tonight was the Irish dancers. I recognized one of the soloists and as I looked at my program, sure enough she was one of my former 101 students. AND, this is what I love the most, the program said that these soloists were champion level dancers. I had NO idea that this girl was a champion level Irish dancer. Even though she did mention that she danced and that dance was a huge part of her life, she said nothing about this fact every time I talked to her about dance. Such a funny girl.

After the performance we watched Strictly Ballroom, which I thought was pretty appropriate. I loved it so much more this time than I did the first time, and I almost teared up again when the couple was dancing the Passo Doble, one of my favorite dances.

So who would have guessed? It looks like I love dance. I love the energy and the passion. I love how light the dancers are on their feet and how watching them makes me feel lighter. I have been kind of depressed a little lately, distracted and stressed, and I realized today that I'm losing sight of the things that could lift me out of my funk. I decided to watch some documentaries on contemporary 21st century art, and I got that light feeling as I saw these artists create and as their art challenged me and made me feel alive. I'm focusing so much on all the things I have to do, all the research I should be doing, the books I should be reading and the movies I should be watching, that I'm forgetting to have aesthetic experiences with other forms of art. And this bothers me because as a Humanities teacher this is what I try to get my students to understand, that aesthetic experiences are necessary for a balanced and happy life, and here I am neglecting these things, the things that I love so much and that lift my soul. I'm glad I learned this lesson today, and I hope I can make a point to have more art in my life more often.

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