Thursday, August 13, 2009

Women of the Dance

There are certain songs that I must dance when they are played. The music forces me out of my chair and commands me to move my body in defiance of a culture that tells me I’m too old to shake that thing. Mainly I dance with myself and every once in a while with Billy Idol. For Merce Cunningham I imagined that every day of his life he was commanded to move his body in dance.

Like many people, I had heard of Mr. Cunningham's name. Because the lack of representation of artistic dance on television and movies I would not have been able to tell you the nature of his work. At the dance company he founded website I was able to read his biography and to sample a short video clip that showed his evolution as a dancer/choreographer.

This lead to more questions so I also visited the art portal Ubu Web, I got an additional overview of his career and discovered this video, Septet Excerpt 1964:

What inspired me from my brief research about Merce Cunningham is that he kept on dancing and learning right up to the end of his 90 year  life. He did not allow anyone to dictate how his life should be lived. We do not have to stick to paths that no longer serve our spirit. There are choices to dance to our own beat.

Dance Blogs and Bloggers

Dance is communication, sexuality, freedom and conformity, order and disorder. I try not to distinguish between professional dance and social dancing. It happens too often that one becomes the other. Innovation happens on the street level as well as in the great dancing schools and companies.

I can go days without dancing. This is not true for other people. For some people dancing is just one step removed from breathing. It is their life force and they know it. Their daily challenge is to find a way to incorporate dance and dancing into their day to day routine. Exploring dance blogs and websites can open visitors to styles of dance, performances, the business of dance and dance bloggers.

Carrying The Culture Forward

Anjali Nandan practices a dance form called Bharatnatyam, at Online Bharatnatyam she educates about the dance and has video examples of not only how to perform the steps but the reason behind each movement.

Dance Bloggers is a centralized spot for all kinds of English language dance blogs. From here you can find explorations on movement, learning African dance,  or a wee bit of Burlesque.

For the Love of Dance

Maria at A Time to Dance started her journey to dance later than most professional dancers but with no less of a passion than a teen. She is a dancer/educator who:

I became passionate about dance in my mid-twenties. For most other pursuits, this would not be considered late in life, but for dance, I consider myself a late bloomer. My first dance love is salsa– it was the initial “seed” that made me realize that my best tool for artistic and personal expression is my own body. That opened the door to the study of other types of dance, including hip hop, jazz, ballet and modern. I have been seriously devoting myself to the study of modern dance and dabbling in choreography over the past year.

Tonya Plank at Swan Lake Samba Girl works hard to make time to dance. She is a self described an amateur competitive Latin dancer, in addition to being a writer and a public defender. Tonya writes about dance in New York and beyond, has very interesting photos on her blog (I didn’t know dancers could look like that!) and reviews dance performances.

In the Profession of Dance

Nichelle Strzepek at Dance Advantage writes about what a person can gain from a dance education and what it means to be a professional. You don't have to be a dancer to appreciate:

Even when someone is simply not doing his best, and even if it is negatively impacting you or others, it is still not appropriate for a professional to publicly point this out to others.  It’s not nice!  No one can truly walk in another person’s shoes, therefore it is always best to remember the golden rule.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Dance Mine is a collaborative blog from Janie a ballet dancer, and Sanna who is a Performance Specialists. Together they write on the profession of dance and tips on managing the body, mind and spirit as well as the career.

How Does a Modern Dance Company Get the Word Out on Their Performances?

If you have alternative newspapers in your area you might see the event listed in the Calendar section. One effective way is to have a blog like the Shen Wei Dance Arts Company's blog that let's fans know of upcoming performances. The Elisa Monete Dance Company also has a blog that keeps their audience informed and they have videos that display portions of the company's works.

Dance is more than a competition to be scored. If all you know about dance is Dancing With the Stars, and I’m really not knocking that television program, I invite you to take a little time to dip into the world of dance and dance blogs.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer where I am a Contributing Editor.


  1. This is a wunderful post! Good stuff. Keep your blog danzing. Even we K9's like to do it!

  2. Nice compilation of dance resources on the web. Thanks!

  3. I used to go dancing every Saturday night and did so for more than 10 years with two different sets of dance buddies. Wouldn't you know that my husband (we married almost 5 years ago) isn't a dancer. Recently, some friends have been holding salsa socials and Chicago step classes/dances and I've been able to get my dance on. I also frequently dance by myself at home with the music blaring or on public transport when the songs on my iPod get to me. This is a great post.
    You might also check out this website for dances that a lot of us Black folks used to do "back in the day."