Defining a physical, emotional, and intellectual activity such as dance is a challenging yet thought-provoking undertaking. Some define dance as an art form, others define it as a sport. Still others define dance as the physical expression of an idea, a story, or a song. Often, dance is defined as the combination of coordination and idea. While dance is all of these things, it is also much more.
Dance is an inherent desire, an inborn trait. Some birds, for example, dance in a ritualistic process that keeps the momentum of the species going – the males dance to impress the females; they dance to distinguish themselves as being the chosen one for perpetuating the generations of birds that will follow. While this bird dance is not completed to music, it is still an elaborate and choreographed ritual that is repeated, embellished, and passed from generation to generation. Similarly, people dance as part of a ritualistic process at times. Dance has been used to retell stories, to celebrate triumphs, and to display finery for potential mates. Ultimately, though, dance can be defined in one of two ways: objectively for its movements and purposes or individually as an essential part of animal behavior.
Objectively, dance is the rhythmic movement either set to music or not; it is a physical form of motion that either tells a story, an emotion, or elucidates and elicits a feeling. It is performed and it is watched. Both the performers and the watchers are part of the dance. The performers physically interpret and display while the watchers interpret and judge. Individually, dance is the connection of one human (or other animal) to the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and conceptual present state of mind. A person dancing, whether alone or in a group, whether choreographed or spontaneous, whether with music or with silence, brings together what is in the mind with what the body can do with what is in the mind. Movements and heartbeats, music and cadence, visualization and execution – this is dance.