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Dance for Dance's Sake: There Is No Boundaries

Dance for Dance's Sake: There Is No Boundaries

By Ming-shen GU


There are two types of people in the world: the type fond of dancing and the other that professes to be unable to dance. In theory, it is almost impossible for someone to be unable to dance. As long as you are breathing, you can dance. This claim involves a fundamental issue: what is “dance”? Here, I am going to put forward a point of view as a devotee of the study of dancing. As long as you can breathe and your heart is beating, you are in possession of some basic rhythms. Then let us step forward, left, right, left, right –– there you go with the basic steps. Is there such a dance that goes without the combination of popping out the left foot and the right foot? Surely you would hardly raise an eyebrow when you are told to make a few more steps with the same foot and alternate. Meanwhile, some say they are deficient in sense of rhythm, always falling behind the beats. Their situation is, in fact, not beyond cure. They may sit on a chair and wave their arms such that the business of shifting one's gravity has little relevance. Why not? I have spent substantial time communicating the idea that everybody can dance, and whether one can really dance has not so much to do with their physical condition as with what they think about themselves. Provided that there is a belief that one can dance, everyone can enjoy the fun of moving their body around no matter if there is music or the correct rhythm.

Self-inhibition from dancing often has to do with age. Many seniors may say “I was an avid dancer when I was young” but “now I can't get it going any more”. In my view, these are but excuses for lethargy. But how come this mindset comes to carry clout? In many cases, it happens when the pleasure of dancing has been forgotten due to the lack of occasion. Many more people shun from dancing for fear of mockery and would content themselves with the august grace of age by steering clear of the potential ridicule brought by bustling limbs. What a shame it is to confine the tremendous fun and benefit of dancing in pent-up aloofness. And yet, it is understandable to feel this way when one sees the liveliness and health of youth, which seems to be entitled to the realm of dancing. Not to mention the professionals, for whom the privilege of dancing on the stage is well deserved.

Eun-Me Ahn, a choreographer from Korea, sets out to crash these false conceptions about dancing. Through travelling and fieldwork, Ann sees the ubiquity of dancing. The act of dancing stems from real-life improvisation that can entertain the dancer(s) or other people. It is closely connected to life and brings immense joy. What is most important is that once dancing gets melded with living, the demarcation of age or gender dissolves. Dancing Grandmothers is a project that Ann has launched since 2010. It stages an extraordinary show that combines the guileless, free-style movement of senior peasant women and the technique of professional young dancers. The piece presents dance as it is in the understanding that physical expression is direct and pure. Individuals perform freely for most part of the show to the extent that tidy formation seems redundant. The stage design is resplendent in colors, accompanied by minimalist music or electronic dance music that urge one to dance. The overall trendy feel of the show creates a huge dichotomy between the performers' behavior and that of a typical grandmother perceived as such.


Dancing Grandmothers embodies the concept that dance sets no boundaries. If the statement that one used to like dancing when one was young stands valid, dancing can be an affair that lasts a lifetime. Watching the senior ladies move their body freely in colorful costume and get from one place to another on stage in articulated disco beat is very enthralling, as if they were making a call for the audience. What a lark it is to dance!

Stage photo:Dancing GrandmothersStage photo:Dancing Grandmothers

 

 

Photo by Eunji Park