Dance performances = stomach ache.

At least for me.  No, not when I’m performing, that’s the fun part.  When I ATTEND.

My entire life, whenever I go to a dance performance big or small, I get a huge, uncomfortable stomach ache.  On a few occasions, it has gotten so bad that it has turned into throwing up.  I’ve never really been able to understand it until my recent studies and analysis of dance have made it more clear:

People don’t know what they are SAYING with dance.  They have no idea what the nuances and directions and body parts MEAN, they just put them together in a random order that they like, and sometimes it makes a teeny bit of sense, and often it doesn’t.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve delved into the meaning of movement, body language, micro expressions, symbolism, body image profiling, energy analysis, personality analysis and on and on and on to create an understanding of what ALL movement means – dance and otherwise.  Down to the twitches of the mouth and the wriggling of specific toes.   These things are universal, meaning culture and language don’t change them.   The thing is, this is information that I have sensed all along, but didn’t have the codified version of it.

So rewind to my lifetime of attending dance performances, and always, ALWAYS walking away wanting more and not knowing why.  So much so that it made me literally sick to my stomach.  And then fast forward to now, and if anything, my disgust has gotten worse.  This is an awful conundrum to a person that is teaching and preaching seeing the good and finding the value in everyone. Here I am universally rejecting the works of those same people  Caviat – they are doing the best they can with what they have.

Maybe they would disagree with me and say they can decide what movement means.  That would be ridiculous in any other setting, however.  Color and stroke has specific meaning to artists that is universal.  Imagine Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” done primarily in reds and oranges?  Not nearly the same effect.  Or worse, imagine someone saying, “I reject that someone saying ‘I want to eat that banana’ means they want to consume a banana, instead I choose it to mean ‘I’m going out to mow the lawn!”  Well, that’s fine, but if you say you are going to eat a banana and go mow the lawn instead, no one will understand you.

That is where I am at with dance.  My experience at shows is the equivalent of watching someone stand on stage and speak gibberish for TWO HOURS STRAIGHT.  No wonder I’m leaving stressed out.  I’m working my tail off the entire time to recognize a few words, or at least enjoy the sound or delivery of the words.  Or even worse, which is often the case in the 21st century of fast paced, anxiety ridden perfectionism, it’s two hours of them SCREAMING gibberish.

But here’s the thing:  I’m left to try and reconcile some difficult things.  1-I’m the only one having these experiences and therefore can sound quite egotistical that I have some secret understanding that no one else does.  I don’t like sounding egotistical.  I don’t like rejecting other’s hard work and effort and enterprise and expression.  I don’t think this option is the correct one… so then there’s option 2-Everyone else is experiencing something similar, but since they don’t have understanding to back it up, they are faking it on their enjoyment.  This would certainly account for the massive amount of the public that doesn’t understand nor really care about dance at all.  And knowing how insecure and craving of approval artists are, it would make sense that they, as well as so-called art enthusiasts, would speak the praises of that which they see, and even create an entire dance “jargon” around their critiques.  There’s also 3-I’m just a judgmental, critical jerk who doesn’t truly appreciate art, and that everyone else somehow has a special understanding of the dance performance that I lack.  And there’s 4-There’s something to be found in dance and performance that is really important that I find, and if I was in any way satisfied with status quo, I wouldn’t chase it as voraciously as I have.

Sooo… I don’t know.  Have I found that perfect way of expressing?  Not yet.  But I’ve begun to.  I’ve happened upon a few nuggets that have worked and are affecting people, both the dancers and the viewers, and particularly, the non-artists.  This is a discussion I want to continue to have, and hope that those who know and care about me will help check me if I am heading into the traps of egotism, judgment, criticism, and ignorance.  There is a whole lot I still want to learn.

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