What is dance and how do we define it? Thesis before have attempted
Dance is the use of self-objectification to produce art. We objectify ourselves to craft a product, or living idea that has emotional value. Since the choreographic process begins as an internally conscious idea manifested with dancers as tools, the performer is a mediator for the creator. Society and artistic vision are inherently linked. If this weren’t the case no one would be entertained or moved by dance. Even the term “being moved” suggests there’s a connection between internalized ideas outwardly produced through movement. To be moved demands relatability to the whole of humanity.
So as dancers, we are objectified tools. We become objects to create an objective product to a subjective reality. In fact, the manner in which dancers are objectified aligns with the female objectification theory (though not in a negative context.)
Part of dance’s nature is to objectify. The two cannot be divorced from one another. Some of the feminist criteria on objectification includes being treated as an object (dancers are used as instruments for the choreographer), fungibility (aka understudies and recasting), lack of autonomy, being reduced to bodies and appearance, and lack of a verbal voice. The final aspect is especially important because it demonstrates the capacity of vocal agency without verbal communication. That being said, I’d contend we as dancers (regardless of gender) are objectified in a light that shouldn’t be viewed as negative. Of course, choreographers shouldn’t treat dancers as useless commodities. Instead we’re valuable tools employed to create abstract ideas or feelings with human bodies as our medium of choice.
To create a dance is to construct a dynamic and powerful image. It’s a discernable art form designed for human expression. If you consider pre-history, dance can be argued as the first art form to develop in such a complex, sophisticated manner. Within pre-history, architecture and instruments were only primitive. Dance however was fairly advanced, as it was a means of partaking in a constantly changing image. The first time humanity was objectified was through the medium of dance. This being said, dance isn’t limited to familiar, human characteristics.
Of course this gets into abstract art which I’ll only briefly acknowledge to address that what’s seen onstage isn’t necessarily what an audience sees. When I was a kid, I remember chasing a rainbow. It looked like it was just over my neighbor’s house. When I followed it however, I was unable to truly reach it.
Rainbows exist…there’s no doubt about it. We don’t imagine we see them. But like dance, they stand nowhere. They are a reflection of something else because like rainbows, dance derives from a virtual entity.
Unlike verbal communication which conveys the details of feeling, dance is the expression of a choreographer’s understanding of feeling. Dance is self-objectification to create a vision using bodies as tools. Unlike other art forms, the body is a silent instrument used to demonstrate the movement’s capacity to establish a verbal agency.