Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What Is Dancing?

On Sunday, NBC premiered Superstars of Dance, a program with dance routines from around the world. Some were what people traditionally think of as dance, but some pushed the definition. A number were martial arts routines. The judges didn’t know how to score them. Yes, it was an incredible routine, but was it dancing?

I have fond childhood memories of dancing in the living room of my parents’ home. At night I would use the picture window as a mirror, not so different from my ballet class. I was an adult before I ever found out that some of the neighbors used to watch me. I would have been horribly embarrassed. Instead I just remember the joy of moving to the music.

After much internal debate, I registered for the second semester of Liuhebafa, an internal martial art. Yes, I am uncoordinated and the slowest one in the class. Yes, a number of times in the first semester I wanted to sit down on the floor in tears because I was trying to figure out which hand was my right and which was my left when everyone else was asking detailed questions about movements. Yes, I have just a fraction of the martial arts experience of the other students in the class. But, when I go home and practice what little of the form I can remember, I feel like I am dancing, just like I did when I was a little girl. While I get a great deal of satisfaction practicing Tai Chi, the flowing movements of Liuhebafa often make me feel joyful. Right now that feeling is worth the struggle.

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