The article by Kimerer LaMothe entitled, “To Dance is a Radical Act”, emphasizes the impact that dance has on modern culture, and more specifically, the ways in which dance challenges the concept of modern society and the values that fuel the modern world, especially the western world. The reasons for this challenge include the fact that dance emphasizes mind over body, values the individual self, the idea that writing is the prevalent manner of recording knowledge, and idle work. To combat these ideals of western society, the author recommends that individuals must dance as a way to become one with the universe, they must study dance and have a broad understanding of dance; however, should assume a specific style of dance and develop expertise in that area, embrace the challenges associated with dancing, and maintain a sense of passion in dance. The author concludes by noting that dancing instills in a person a sense of energy that those who do not practice dance are without and that dance connects individuals with their own bodies as well as the world around them.
This article is a fascinating article that supports the art of dance as not only a hobby or a form of exercise, but a way of life and thinking that challenges the state of western culture and encourages individuals to step outside of their comfort zones and the cultural ideals that have been instilled in them. The author raises several key points that I can recognize and relate to as a member of Western society.
One point that was particularly interesting to me was the author’s discussion on embracing the idea of body over mind, as dancers do, versus mind over body. The author mentions that the western world does not support this idea; however, that dance does and thus challenges western thinking. According to the author, dance promotes bodily movement and expression and defines who we are as human beings. I can relate to this sentiment in regards to any physical activity, as I am often able to think more clearly and overall feel better when I have been active.
Another good point the author makes is the idea that all knowledge must be written down and the overall value of the written word. The author explains that not all knowledge can be written down and that some forms of knowledge are better expressed visually than verbally. The author explains that the value of the written word in western society is yet another way that dance challenges modern western culture and that dance represents a form of expressing and sharing knowledge that requires no words. This point is highly relatable as somebody who has viewed dance performances that are entirely performed without words. The messages conveyed can be extremely strong and powerful; however, there is no script and no narration. Even so, the feelings and the storylines are still communicated through the movement of the dancers’ bodies as well as the accompanying music.
The last point that stood out to me was the point that the author makes about the necessity for those who study dance to have broad knowledge of dance, but to practice narrowly and develop expertise in a particular area. There are so many techniques and styles of dance that even the best dancers would be unable to master every area. As such, this advice is practical and smart, as those who have a broad understanding of dance can develop their techniques and garner influence of other styles; however, in practicing a specific style of dance they can master one area. I also believe that this type of practice prevents dancers from being discouraged. Excelling in one area of dance is more rewarding than being mediocre at a variety of dancing. In my opinion, I would much rather specialize in one form of dance, as the author has suggested. I can relate this to other fields as well, such as medicine, where a professional should have broad knowledge of different areas of medicine, but should specialize in one area and gain expertise in that area.
Overall, this article takes a unique perspective on the topic of dance and how it relates to and challenges modern western culture. The author brings up a number of interesting points on the ideologies behind dance versus the ideologies present in western culture. This article raises a number of philosophical points that I largely agree with, such as the concept of body over mind as well as the idea that not all knowledge can be written down. To take on a dancer’s way of thinking would very well mean to go against many of the concepts I am comfortable with and have grown into as a member of western society.