13 October 2003

A meditation on dancing.

Dancing affects the dancer and the viewer. Undisputed method of releasing happy juices is to dance around. Even just to jump on the spot and wave your arms up and down for 10 seconds is going to bring any human closer to smiling than they were before they did it. Go on. Try it. Tracky daks and favourite old tee-shirt helps in the equation. (Behind closed doors. No-one wants to see that).

Dancing while wearing tight vinyl that you know looks pretty good, even though you’ve got a much bigger arse than when you were 18, well that’s got some effect on the old endocrine system too. It certainly involves an audience, if ephemeral one.

When you’re a watcher in a club, an unfettered dancer, un-trained and with zero knack certainly draws the eye and holds it. The good ones are better. Then you feel a thread of connection. Their system's all nice and warmed up, and something’s happening in yours too, even though you’re separated by a good few metres of air. I particularly like watching couples hit their stride with salsa or rock-and-roll.

To do it on the stage means a whole other level of discipline and training. Needs physical strength and a consciousness of where every muscle is placed and where it’s going to go next. So to be ready to do a piece that someone will pay money to see, I assume means going past the point you’re getting those happy juices squirting around in a gentle sloshy kind of way.

I admit I can count on one-and-a-half hands the times I’ve seen dance-theatre. And it's so personal when it is moving. I know enough that it means weeks of preparation and sculpting a piece until it’s like a very beautiful machine operating. Perhaps that unmistakably physical link between dancer and viewer can still happen when they’ve trained so hard they can just focus on emotion, and know that it is triggering something in the audience. That would be special. Or is it usually a feat of illusion?

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