Dance springs from primal urges
Dance: The movement of the body in a rhythmic way, usually to music and within a given space, for the purpose of expressing an idea or emotion, releasing energy, or simply taking delight in movement itself. Encyclopedia Britannica Charles M. Shultz of the Peanuts cartoon series said, to live is to dance, to dance is to live. Nothing could be truer from a historical viewpoint. Man dances what he once was, what he is now, and what he hopes to become. Man dances because he is so made and motivated. Life is movement, therefore all movement is a basic thing, a natural thing.Primitive man moved in response to his feelings toward the world in which he found himself. These early movements were not real dances, of course, but simply rhythmic emotions: reactions to hatred, love, pain, joy, sorrow, hunger, thirst, etc. Over eons, moving from the wilds of the forest, to the village, to the church, to the courtyard, to the castle, to the palace and finally to the theater, dance has evolved along with man into a highly complex organization of movement.The behavioral patterns based on emotional reactions, the biological heritage from our primitive ancestors, have remained and have been integrated with rational movement. Science now tells us a healthy, happy human being is a composite of balanced forces.Ballet, for example, was born of the marriage of two exact sciences: architecture and geometry. And like its parents, it emphasizes line, form, balance, and space. Consequently, when one properly and correctly executes the exercises of classical idiom, the mechanical, chemical, nervous, mental and emotional systems of the body are balanced and joyously free from hypertension and strain.As a professional ballet dancer and trained teacher, I feel that dance, when properly taught, promotes total body-mind fitness more than, yes Im going to say it, more than any sports program. For example, those of you who are calorie-minded may be happy to know that, according to recently published statistics, most dance classes burn anywhere from 500 to 1,000 calories per hour depending on the teacher, exercise and routine.Some physicians have estimated that the amount of energy used in a rigorous hour-and-a-half technique class is the equivalent to that in playing a football game. As a mental discipline, dance develops the kinesthetic sense, the feeling of movement, weight, and position in space, thus producing body-mind coordination. It decreases anxieties and inhibitions. It reduces mental, emotional as well as physical fatigue. It improves memory and mental agility.As an aesthetic activity, dance creates a general appreciation for all cultural endeavors including painting, music, architecture, drama, etc. It produces a deep admiration for the dedication of the artists who have excelled and an empathetic awareness for those who have failed. It promotes a genuine love for the art of movement itself.For those of you who are interested in learning more about dance, upcoming performances include the Aspen Dance Festival and the Vail International Dance Festival taking place in July and August.DeAnna Anderson is co-owner and artistic director of the Glenwood Dance Academy & Pilates Studio in Glenwood Springs, which recently premiered its Danse Arts Theatre Company.
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