Monday, June 20, 2011

Why We Dance...

Patriarchal societies have forced women into stereotypes roles: the understanding, virtuous, and self-sacrificing woman, or the seductive, passionate and frightening woman.  Both feminine images are controlled through the body's appearance, attitudes, gestures and movements.  These categories tear up a woman and rob her of her strength.  She has to be very careful not to be misunderstood.  To be respected and taken seriously, she tries to hide her femininity and constrict her body into an emotional corset.  Split into saints and witches, women were at once put above and beneath the reality of life; either way, they were robbed of all real participation in the development and shaping of society.  They were supposed to derive happiness and satisfaction from a peripheral existence, supposedly in harmony with their "natural" role, namely self-sacrifice and submission. Dancing is an opportunity for a woman to look at these facets in a light and playful way, before deciding where she wants to stand.

Dance has completed its transformation from the realm of the sacred to the aesthetic and artistic and back to a joyful, sensual, and playful instrument for self-discovery.  The contents of dancing changed with each phase, always combining with people's immediate physical and spiritual needs. Indeed the language of dance flows over the socially coded body, and it uses a different logic that can be understood through sensual awareness.  Leaving oneself through dancing to enter a world beyond one's control and beyond the personal level - almost flowing between inner and outer world - contributes to a new and different understanding of the tensions between the different poles of existence.  By allowing the mind and the senses, the inside and outside worlds, to unite, without ever allowing either to become dominant, dancing makes it possible for people to set out on unorthodox searches for themselves, and to experience sexual and social issues in their own bodies.  Dance is an art and as such it enables whoever practices it to constantly improve their skills and self-knowledge.  And to know oneself is a human being's most essential duty.

--Rosina-Fawzi Al-Rawi