Dance and Music are Templates of Experience
The Dance and Music Template
Dance and Music are templates emerging from the first humans for gathering, understanding, and shaping experience. In aboriginal groups dance and music were group experiences repeated every day. The group supported each individual as they reached different stages of managing their daily experience.
The purposes were very much the same as today, dance and music were celebration and discovery of ourselves in a fresh context. Children learned and grew with adults. Adults experimented by adding their own flavor or rhythm to the dance. Others would mirror their quirks or simplify them to suit their bodies. Unison became a norm that everyone would return to as a group.
As a person gathers the experience of dance and music, transformations are a natural process that bring more agility of both directed and interactive action. Transformations and realizations apply to the happy and to the sad times, to health and to disease.
Dance and music were a template to deal with every kind of experience. They were both suited to deal with the known and the unknown, with physical skill and the imagination, with directed and interactive activity. Dance and music were a journey through surprises and confusion that we call spirituality and religious ritual.
They were templates to discover the interactivity of experience, internal and external.
Each dance was a ritual identifying a spiritual experience. And like the Eskimo can identify many types of snow, the earliest dancer could identify even more types of spiritual experience.
The dancer was looking for perspective to guide them as they managed their experience which could be confusing in the same way that a person meditating can be confused by an infinite variety of spiritual experience.
The perspective came as a balance of boldness and humility and as an agility to shift between physical experience and the world of the imagination. This perspective is the study of dance and music. The requirements are lots of courage, an ability to say yes to growing as a person, a willingness to ask for help, and a curiosity for the surprise of the next moment.
Today we know dance and music as irresistible experiences in either our participation or enjoying the participation of others.
The Experience of the Young
Dance and music are particularly irresistible to the very young because they are growing in experience. Both dance and music embody an experience of everything happening at once, from determination and laughter to engagement of every cell of the body and brain.
The same child who can get bored with education as trying to store separated concepts in memory can spend endless time with the play of music and dance.
For that reason, dance and music are the ultimate education formats because the gathering of experience naturally begins with a few simple notes or movements and builds upon the variation of those notes or movements.
The obvious power of music and dance is seen in melody or rhythm that symbolizes an entire nation or culture and especially can be experienced in the melodies and harmonies of an individual’s life work.
A child learning dance or music is growing an experience that will shape them all of their life.
The experience of dance and music become ways to assemble the puzzle we call our self. Everything about ourselves has to be managed at once, our sound, our movement, thought, emotion, intention, reflection, not to speak of our energy, our health, and the world we create.
Dance and music are templates for managing each aspect of our self individually and as a whole. The process is simple yet both dance and music are a guide to using variation for understanding the path to complexity. Even the child knows that our purpose as humans is to piece together our possibilities and that means to clarify experience.
Dance and music create habits that shape our agility to move between repetition and variation, and to practice the skills of directed or interactive movement and sound. The entire person engages in managing the interconnections of movement that shape and reshape the experience of the self.
Our study of these habits often begins within a group, plus some kind of private practice, and with a variety of teachers trained in specific types of experience.
Distinguishing the Experience of Agility
A dancer and a musician can reach an interesting point in their development. After much concentrated dedication, they experience a brightness that goes beyond anything they have experienced before.
Agility becomes curiosity and effort becomes a managing of an infinite variety of qualities. The singer and the instrumentalist create clear ringing tones that are accessible with repetition and trust of their abilities. The dancer has a sense of riding on top of movement rather needing to force the movement.
This experience can be shared by any discipline. A rock climber described it this way, “I do not try to muscle my way into new positions on a rock face. I think of it as grace, easing myself into the next place I am going.”
How Does Agility Work?
The tool kit of the dancer and the musician has many layers and covers all levels of experience. Here are two clues to ways agility works.
One practice is the changing of focus from acquiring a skill to a broader focus on supporting that skill. The focus on one repeated movement opens to the entire body and emotion supporting that movement. The focus on the self gives way to a broader focus on the interactive connections within oneself and with other artists.
Another practice is the extension of a movement or a sound from within the body to the space around the body. This requires a change of focus similar to focusing on a object and suddenly seeing another shape in the negative space around the object.
The outcome of the fun and work of dance and music is an experience of consistent growth as the puzzle of the self takes shape.
The opportunities are endless. Each day can bring a concise story of a melody and a rhythm. The story may be in a class or in the way one walks. Each day may bring a sameness or many surprises.
The consistency of the self as moment by moment monitor grows with the ability to totally engage in whatever connections are possible. Each experience becomes a possibility for reflection, re-shaping, and rejuvenation.
A person studying dance and music gains access to many ways of managing experience. Dance and music are ways to gather, sort, and express experience.
Access means facility and facility is power to respond. Growing as a person means sorting the experiences of how we express our power. For a child the obvious growth is building the interconnections of the entire person. Building for the teen is sorting experiences and choosing ways to apply them. For the adult, the process is clarifying experience and distinguishing different ways of managing our agility and power.
Music and dance are templates to begin this process. They are then easily applied to learning and memory, to personal psychology, science, commerce, body maintenance and athletic skills.
Tim Hurst 02.21.2017