by Valerie Durham
After reading Daniel Pink's revolutionary book, A Whole New Mind, I was completely struck at how uniquely Duncan Dance fosters each of the new characteristics of the developing Conceptual Age that we are beginning as a society.
The six new characteristics are Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning.
The Art of Dance as envisioned and practiced by mother of modern dance, Isadora Duncan, cultivates each of these new characteristics that are critical for success in the new Conceptual Age.
Design. As Duncan Dancers, we are aware of the aesthetic beauty of the human body. We dress in brightly colored scarves and tunics that highlight the curves and natural loveliness of the human form. We are prefer to dance in beautiful surroundings.
Story. Every Duncan Dance, though abstracted to apply to all humanity, are full of story. When you learn a repertory choreography, each movment is based on a story...for the individual as a dancer...for the character in the dance...for the experience of the audience.
Symphony. Beyond the obvious fact that Duncan Dance is deeply steeped in musicality, this use of the term refers to the coming together of many elements at once. In each Duncan dance and Duncan dancing experience, there is a coming together of movement, artistry, musicality, interaction, improvisation and much more, all in the single present moment of dance.
Empathy. In a Duncan class, we are always dancing together. We connect through the breath, through eye contact, through gentle touches, through body awareness. We feel the energy of the other dancers in the dancing space with us.
Play. Can anything be more playful than a lyrical Duncan Dance? From a ballspiel to a contradance, Duncan Dance is filled with sponaneity, reaction, jubilance and play. If you can't connect to your inner child through Duncan Dance, you just won't ever connect!
Meaning. No gesture in Duncan Dance is empty. All movements, all dancing is filled with meaning, both for the individual dancer and for an audience member and for humanity at large.
Many of my friends and colleagues, non Duncan-dancers, in the dance community often tell me that Duncan Dance is "old," that it's "in the past." But I believe that perhaps Isadora was more ahead of her time than she is given credit for.
If you hope to cultivate the characteristics, for yourself or your children, that will set you up for success in the coming Conceptual Age, try Duncan Dance!