Thursday, February 26, 2009

Daring to dance for joy

In the last 5 years, Americans have witnessed an unprecedented increase in dance activities in film, television, and on the internet. This of course reveals a huge increase in personal involvement and commitment to the art. Why, I wonder, has this passion for dancing arisen now? Why do we collectively need to dance more? How is it serving us?

Barbara Ehrenreich argues that dance is an evolutionary trait creating a group synchrony designed to help the group face threats to either the group or its individuals. If so, then it should not come as a surprise that we are turning back to dancing. The threats inflicted by the Bush administration on our society and on our person are serious: loss of jobs, inflation-recession-depression, wars with unimagined human rights violations, failing banks, and a crippled constitution. In response, to save our own lives, we soothe our wounds through kinesthetic reunion: we dance.

In dancing—and watching dancing—we resist socio-economic pressures. We replace our grief with camaraderie, physical pleasure, and spiritual joy. In dancing, we stand up on a stage and shout “Look at me! I’m still here. I’m still alive.” As long as we dance, as long as we dance together, we can take anything they throw at us.

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