Staff Writer/ Editor
Artistry is a very large and complex sector within the human experience. It connects us to human expression in an extremely intimate and almost abstract way. There are countless different ways in which the craft takes form. The most common are painting, drawing, acting, singing and dance. In my opinion, art is almost anything where a person works with a medium in a creative way, where they use their own influences and biases to achieve a desired outcome.
That said, although each medium has its own intricacies, I feel that the most expressive form of artistry is dance. I also have a personal connection to it, being that I’ve practiced dance since my middle school elective where I first became fascinated with the craft. I knew this was something sacred to me when I realized I was actually enjoying learning about the history behind the techniques and styles of dance. I learned that, much like artistry as a whole, this form was vast and filled with many different influences from around the world. That’s one thing all forms of art seem to have in common: a rich history spanning the globe.
After my sixth grade introduction to the form, I decided that I would keep dancing; so I told my mom, who then enrolled me into my town’s dance company the next year. I was also still dancing in school, so I felt like a real “dance girl,” which, at the time, was a very real thing.
The way I’m telling this story may lead you to believe I was just super talented and wanted to continue pursuing the craft because of my undoubted talent. This was not the case at all. In fact, I knew I wasn’t very good, especially in comparison to the “real dance girls.” Plus, I was one of two Black girls in the whole class–a theme that would remain constant throughout the upcoming years. I never let any of these things stop or discourage me from dancing. My skill level or the fact that I stood out like a sore thumb in the classroom didn’t matter. This new thing was something I loved. It felt good. I formed this sort of pseudo-spiritual silent attachment to it.
I’m sure some of the people around me probably why I continued to do it despite not being the best. I’m thankful that my mom didn’t pull me out of the class but encouraged me to keep trying. Now that I’m looking back, it wasn’t the dance itself or my skill level that mattered anyway. It was this feeling I got every time I danced; I knew it was special and important to me. In the dance studio, when I was moving my body, I felt peace. It almost transcended me into another realm, a silent realm where I could fully express my emotions. That’s a key part, too. I’ve struggled with a bit of anxiety and intrusive thoughts since I was a younger girl. The silence I experienced in the studio was like nothing I had ever felt before. All my thoughts and anxieties went away for that hour. It was my serenity. I don’t think anyone ever knew this about me. Maybe it’s a sort of “dancer’s secret” that isn’t even exclusive to myself. Maybe we all experience it, it’s just something we never actually speak on. Maybe it’s something that is experienced across all forms of artistry; perhaps it’s the ultimate connector, the reason why all artists appreciate art.
I’ve been on this (rather personal) soapbox to make one point. Despite all art forms being connected because of this unspoken intimacy that exists between the artist and the art, I feel like dance is the most intimately expressive of all the forms. I spoke about a certain “silence” earlier. This silence enters the space every time a dance begins. Perhaps it’s the expression without words that makes it so moving, or maybe it’s the fact that the movements have meaning. Dance itself is almost like a language. In sixth grade, we studied old style French dances that were meant to tell entire stories. One great example of what I’m talking about is the Alvin Ailey dance ensembles. They are remarkable. If you’ve never seen one in person, I highly recommend that you find the time to do so. It would be a great date night event, or you could go by yourself, with a friend or whoever. Alvin Ailey himself is infamous for one of his ensembles titled “Revelations.” His website says that the piece “fervently explores the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul” (alvinailey.org). This sentence alone helps explain my argument of why dance is the most expressive of all the art forms. Sure, someone could make a painting, song or sculpture to describe what was described in Revelations, but it would not encapsulate the story in the same way. In dance, bodies are in constant motion in order to tell a story. It is physical and visceral in a way others forms are not.
I should say, this argument is not intended to discredit or demean other art forms; I actually think those forms are remarkable as well. However, my connection to dance is so deep that I felt others should hear this perspective, so that they could perhaps see it how I do.