Dance can be seen in many ways throughout the world. From club dancing to rain dancing, as well as performance based dance like, ballet or waltz. Each style is unique and different, possessing different movement patterns and moves to accomplish. But as you delve deeper into some styles you become more aware of how simple many of the movements are. Within contemporary dance, pedestrian movement, like walking or talking can be powerful influencers for the movement that is being choreographed. Despite this though, many people still consider that they themselves cannot dance. This powerful statement has a lot of concepts attached to it, many of which I want to discuss in this writing. Ranging from; social norms of what dance is to human emotion regulation.
Ask most adults if they can dance, they are most likely to respond with “not really” or “no”. Only a few will reply with “yes” or “maybe a little”. I think even many trained dancers will respond in this way, despite all the years of practice that’s gone into making them great dancers. One of the main issues with this question is that it is so broad. Can you dance is a question like can you create music. The answer has so many different variables, meaning a true response would something like this, “well, yes I can create music, but only on the piano, I can’t make music using the drums or the guitar very well, and don’t even get me started on voice”. Which could then lead onto questions like well “how about the recorder, the harp, the xylophone, the violin or the triangle?”. The openness of the first question suddenly reveals itself, through all these followup questions that are created through the initial answer of yes. The same happens when we ask about dance, we’re not just asking about the act of movement, we are asking about all the different styles that we’re both aware of and not aware of, many of which we probably do not feel comfortable saying that we could do and so answering with a no, can be easier than saying yes, even if you are the most talented dancer in the company you work for. For many, answering no will create an easy get out to make the conversation about something else, often something that isn’t ourself, a topic that many feel uncomfortable talking about, especially to new people.
What’s more the answer yes, then creates an image in the asker’s head that we can dance, which we may not be able to live up to. Depending on the occasion and the style of dance the asker wanted to know about there is a lot of variation in our abilities. While many come to class and learn to dance, learning the social norms for dance within popular culture is different. We can bust out the leaps and pirouettes during a party, it wouldn’t quite be right. We need to adjust ourselves to the venue and the event. This makes dance more accessible to everyone. Within parties the most dancing that ever really happens is the shuffle or simple jumps on the spot. Of which, a large proportion of the population can accomplish. Meaning the idea that we “can’t” dance isn’t founded within our physical ability or lack of.