Dance is Good for the Soul

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Two nights ago we put on Sans Limites at the White Box Theater in San Diego. The audience was full; the evening was special. I wrote the following in the program in order to contextualize the work, and help the audience understand the relevance of Isadora’s work a century later.

Isadora lived for 50 years — a short period which saw the introduction of the automobile, the airplane, motion pictures, and the first recorded music — technologies that disrupted our norms, expedited cultural shifts, and changed many facets of human life (for better or worse).

Just 100 years later, we, too, live amidst a technological revolution that has brought us the personal computer, the smartphone, the tablet, digital photography and videography — technologies that have already demonstrated the potential to drive events and to change our experience of time and memory, and will no doubt change every facet of human life (also for better or worse).  

Isadora used her art to comment on the world in which she lived and her personal experiences. As technology pervades our day-to-day experience, it is easy to feel removed from other people. While the world grows ever smaller, it can feel like the emotional distance among people grows ever larger.

As Isadora reminded us, art helps us remember — helps us think, evaluate, and consider. Isadora did not allow herself to be filmed and did not perform to recorded music. She wanted her audience’s experience to be transient, to be ephemeral, to be of the moment, like our emotions.  Despite her own revolutionary beliefs, and despite our understanding that technology may have expedited the very changes she wanted to see, she never wanted her audience to forget the value and importance of the personal, human experience. While she did not oppose the advances of technology, Isadora wanted her audience not to let technology distract from their human experience.

In our day, we can watch a pristine recording of a dance performance — we can rewind, zoom in, fast-forward, and analyze it like never before. We can remember every detail, if we so choose. But you have chosen instead, to see a live performance, to experience something transient, something emotional, with other people. And to me, there is nothing more human than the shared emotional experience. 

Today more than ever, humanity really seems to have no limits. Let’s allow art and art history to help us remember not to forget what truly makes us human, as we live Sans Limites.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how vital the art of dance is in a world where we are so disconnected from our bodies and from one another. I am truly grateful for and appreciative of the people who choose to witness the art of the body and those who take classes to learn to express themselves through their bodies. I regularly take fitness classes, meant only to exercise my body. But a dance class is an entirely different experience. While there is no better physical workout, the emotional and expressive elements of the class are truly unlike anything else.

As of next week there will be two opportunities to take isadoraNOW’s modern dance class in San Diego each week. I encourage everyone to come try a class – even if you’ve never taken a dance class. If you can move, you can dance. If you do fitness classes, you will hold your own in a dance class. The only difference is, in a dance class you will learn not only to exercise, but also to say something with your body. And today, as we spend ever more time in our heads, even when we are exercising our bodies, there is nothing better for our souls than to connect our physical selves with our mental selves and learn to speak through movement.

Take a Class with isadoraNOW

Elyssa‘s modern dance classes fuse contemporary and historical modern dance, using Isadora Duncan’s timeless technique to help dancers learn to move from their emotional center with grace, fluidity, and strength. With a twenty-first-century understanding of physiology, somatics, and mindfulness, students have the unique opportunity to learn choreography from a century ago. 

Wednesdays, 12-1:30 pm:

The Movement Lab, 243 N. Highway 101, Unit 3, Solana Beach 

Fridays, 9:30-11 am:

Performing Arts Workshop, 681 Encinitas Blvd. Suite #309, Encinitas


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