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Dance is What You Make It

Kimberly Yorgason
Dance 261
November 21, 2016

Dance has a different meaning and application to each individuals life. There is not one
right definition of dance, just as there is not one correct way to draw a swan. Dance can also
have a different affect on separate peoples lives. Mikhail Baryshnikov once said, When a body
moves, its the most revealing thing. Dance for me a minute, and Ill tell you who you are.1 The
best way to explain how we feel towards dance is to show others through our dancing, because
dance is one of the highest and most accurate forms of communication. Because of this, dance is
more of an art than a sport, and there is less right and wrong with how one can express oneself
when it is an art. The human body is what makes dance possible, and when we dance with
gratitude for that gift and for our talents, we will be able to express ourselves in the most
unselfish and uplifting ways.
First, dance has a different purpose for each human. Some reasons that are similar among
many dancers include dancing for oneself, dancing to share with others, and dancing as exercise.
In a journal article about the correlation between dance and flow (a phenomenological state in
which the factors of skill level and difficulty of movement combine to create pure enjoyment)2,
Kate Hefferon talks about an interview she had with a professional ballerina:

First of all, this dancer had never liked or enjoyed dancing... Secondly, the dancer had
absolutely no confidence in their abilities as a principal dancer... Everytime the dancer
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1. Baryshnikov, Mikhail. Web. N. d.

2. Hefferon, Kate.; Ollis, Stewart. "Just Clicks": An Interpretive Phenomenological


Analysis of Professional Dancers' Experience of Flow. Research in Dance Education;
Volume 7; Issue 2; Starting on page 141. 2006.

went on stage, they were plagued by self-doubt, negative thoughts of failure and
anxiety In addition to the restrictions mentioned, the dancer had a traumatic past that
was directly linked to dance The dancer confessed that a traumatic injury had forced
them into dance as a form of physiotherapy at a very young age... Therefore, the dancer
had always associated dance with trauma, fear and perhaps resentment The dancers
brief moments of flow had come during pieces that were heavily emotional, in which
they could feel the pain of the choreographer and what they were trying to portray. This
connection could be due to the dancers traumatic past, limiting their flow experiences to
pieces that demanded the dancer feel something more than the technical side of the
dance.1
This dancer did not dance for the purpose that most dancers do, and she doesnt even enjoy
dancing. This is a great example to show that dance can be used in so many different and good
ways, including therapy. This would fit into the category of dancing for oneself. Dancers also
sometimes dance for themselves because of the joy they experience. Another reason for dance is
to share it with others. Living Legends at BYU preserves their culture and shares it with a large
audience of people, and they do it through dance. The Folk Dance Team at BYU also shares a
variety of cultures through their dancing. Dancers often can find enjoyment in dancing for others,
because it is a type of service. It is so satisfying to give something back that one has worked on
tremendously, and to an audience that appreciates it. It is such a great thing that there are many
different reasons that individuals choose to dance. None are wrong, but it is important that each
dancer finds his/her reason(s) to motivate their dancing.
Secondly, my passion for dance is found in many of the reasons we have already
________________________
1. Hefferon, Kate.; Ollis, Stewart. "Just Clicks": An Interpretive Phenomenological
Analysis of Professional Dancers' Experience of Flow. Research in Dance Education;
Volume 7; Issue 2; Starting on page 141. 2006.

discussed. I think that dance can be a type of therapy to the soul. Like the dancer interviewed by
Kate Hefferon, dance can help us to find peace and time to think through our troubles. It gives us
a way to let go of our worries, because dance provides a way to express ourselves. Another
anonymous author wrote, Dance enables you to find yourself and lose yourself at the same
time. One way I find this in my dancing is by getting lost in the music. It should be the one
guiding us and giving us direction of how and when to express ourselves. It tells us when to be
quiet, when to be quick, and when to be resistant. The other way Im able to find myself and lose
myself in my dancing is when it is for a large audience. The larger the audience is, the more I
feel Im able to share. In Luke 9, Jesus speaks to His disciples saying, For whosoever will save
his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.1 When
we share our talents with others, they will be strengthened and uplifted, and our talents will
increase. The only way to find our full potential and capabilities is to risk losing it by giving it to
others.
Thirdly, should dance be defined as a fine art, or is it a sport? Could it be both? In a
university setting, dance is most often categorized as a fine art. The BYU mission of the ballet
department states, The Department of Dance prepares articulate dance artists in an intensive
learning environment through performance, choreography, teaching, and scholarship that
integrate body, mind, and spirit.2 With this perspective, it seems obvious that dance is an art.
However, this may sometimes be misread and seem offensive to some, because there is a
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1. Holy Bible. Luke 9:24. King James Version. 2013.
2. BYU Department of Dance. BYU Mission Statement. Web. N. d.

suspicion that if someone says dance isnt a sport, they are saying that it isnt hard or intense
enough to be one. An anonymous quote found online says, Dance isnt a sport? Dance takes the
same amount of sweat. Hard work and determination. The same amount of tears But people
dont consider it a sport, do they? Jake Vander Ark harshly says, Dance is not a sport. In
sports, the objective is to win Dance, on the other hand, has nothing to do with winning
Dance exists to heighten emotion.1 Shanna LaFleur says, It takes an athlete to dance, but an
artist to be a dancer.2 And lastly, Martha Graham says when one practices to become a dancer,
One becomes in some area an athlete of God.3 I think that dance is a fine art because it
involves so many decisions for that dancer, and so that dancer is an artist. Dance could be made a
sport, like gymnastics or figure skating, but I think that would defeat its purpose greatly.
In conclusion, dance is an art form. It allows us to paint on our canvas whatever
expressions we want to share. This can be done for the purpose of helping others, a means for
entertainment, or even a secret act that is for our own benefit and comfort. Some people may be
offended by this proposal that dance is not necessarily a sport, because dance requires the same
difficulty and skill level as sports do. Dance doesnt need to be compared to sports because it
provides its own unique and amazing benefits and entertainment to individuals and large groups
without the aspect of a winner and a loser. Because they are such different things, one cannot be
measured to be harder or superior.
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1. Ark, Jake Vander. Dance is not a sport. Jake Vander Ark; the Brandywine prophet. Web.
N. d.
2. LaFleur, Shanna. Web. N. d.
3. Graham, Martha. I am a Dancer. 1952.

Bibliography
Ark, Jake Vander. Dance is not a sport. Jake Vander Ark; the Brandywine prophet. Web. N. d.
Baryshnikov, Mikhail. Web. N. d.
BYU Department of Dance. BYU Mission Statement. Web. N. d.
Graham, Martha. I am a Dancer. 1952.
Hefferon, Kate.; Ollis, Stewart. "Just Clicks": An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis of
Professional Dancers' Experience of Flow. Research in Dance Education; Volume 7;
Issue 2; Starting on page 141. 2006.
Holy Bible. Luke 9:24. King James Version. 2013.
LaFleur, Shanna. Web. N. d.