I always wanted to be a dancer, even before I knew what being a dancer was or might mean. Dreams become facts.
The human body is on a 24-hour-a-day schedule of limitless activity; it’s dancing. Even in rest—oh glorious rest—each of us breathes, twitches, shifts, extends, rolls, as all 37.2 trillion cells in the body (yes, that’s from a google search) help each person function from natural to complex to mysterious ways that provide momentous opportunities for change and healing.
Fact: there are over eight million dancers in the Bay Area. And our planet has 7.7 billion dancing people in the world, and growing.
As you might surmise from this welcome, and previous ones I’ve written for In Dance, I can get hyperbolic — maybe even a tad obsessed — in expressing that dance is a circadian occurrence. One that is natural, a birthright, a gift. While a tad gross I will cite another fact from a children’s book whose title succinctly states “everybody poops” and equally true is that everybody dances.
Dances are individualistic, cultural, stylized and many dances have and will be passed down from master artist to student, parent to child. Thanks to technology the learning potential increases with online videos that anyone with access to the internet can enjoy and copy.
Based on the ability to easily access dances, there comes the question of ownership and attribution of choreographed material. Can someone own a move? Copyright a string of moves? And what are the ways to pay tribute —or just pay—for the moves that have come from someone else, from a specific place, or culture?
This month many of the featured articles touch on the ongoing topic of appropriation and the super-complex nature of how movement and the teaching of movement mirrors the world’s struggles with capitalism, racism, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, classism, ageism, ableism, and fat phobia. Dance exists as a forum to process and reveal these universal struggles. Dance might even demand that we take stock of ugly depictions of human behavior that reveal personal and shared histories.
First time contributor to In Dance, Parya—a dancer born and raised in Iran, now working in the Bay Area as an Associate Professor of Medicine while getting their MFA—provides readers with insights into how the advantage of privilege continues to contribute to cultural appropriation. They suggest that by talking about cultural appropriation they seek to “help break down barriers so that communities and cultures can promote their own art, speak for themselves, and profit from their work.”
Both in words and imagery you will discover in this issue entry points to movement ideas, practices, and teaching that expands a dynamic discourse. We have the opportunity to further our dance dreams: a gift to evolve, learn, heal and transform.
We can’t change what we don’t know — happy reading.
This article appeared in the October 2019 issue of In Dance.