SPEAK: A Community Perspective

By Dennis Nahat

December 1, 2007, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

Mankind is a celebrating animal. Our time is filled with moments of public jubilation and quiet personal joy. Festivity is everywhere, springing from the importance of special events—anniversaries, births and holy days, national and international holidays. One celebrates when one feels fulfillment, when one lives completely. When we feel this fulfillment in life, we respond with elation, with an elevated sense of our being, with dance.

Since time began, a unifying factor has always been the phenomena of dance and music together, but dance can take us even deeper into music. Perhaps the most exalted form of the celebration of life occurs at such moments—when music and dance converge—possibly the strongest form of expression of the human experience!

We are constantly in the process of affirming our existence. A dance, like a painting or a musical composition or any art form, may stimulate the imagination—the intellect—the spirit—the soul. No artist knows why or from where his or her feelings come. Perhaps these feelings arise from a deep down impenetrable place within us. Dances that celebrate and delight may themselves provide insight into the mysteries of the creative effort by human beings. All art participates in this elemental process.

In ballet, indeed in all dance, the constant tension between the real and the ideal establishes rituals, a kind of resurrection taking place before our eyes. Dance may be envisioned as birth itself, or as a rebirth. Music and dance in abstract form, as opposed to programmatic form, strive to project the unheard and the unseen—the ineffable communicating by rendering the invisible visible.