The Complexity of Simplicity

Why do we overcomplicate things in dance?

There is beauty in simplicity… a perfectly positioned arm, the breath during a long note, or even a subtle pause of intimacy are usually the most memorable moments.  Dance is special, because it’s a dynamic form of self expression as well as an art form.

Good communicators craft their message using precise and explicit words, saving time and energy without unnecessary embellishment. Their message is direct, intentional and clear.

Painters also use the same method of economy in order to create master pieces.  Take Picasso for example, I once stood in front of his self-portrait at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Upon close inspection, his painting looked unfinished, with his strokes being disconcerting, disorganized, poorly executed and childlike.  Suddenly, I remembered my art teacher’s advice to appreciate composition, so I stepped back.  The more distance between the painting and I, the more realistic the portrait became.  When I was about 15 feet from the painting, his face became a 3D image, jumping out of the canvas.  Every little “flaw” that I was observing from a close range was suddenly very purposeful.  They helped create this masterpiece, which will continue to be studied for many more generations.

In dance often we have the tendency to overdo things.  It’s a common belief that the best dancers are the ones executing the most amount of moves.  From my perspective, all of those moves are distractions. They are just words without a message.  Sometimes BIG words that are poorly applied, and have nothing to do with the mood set by the music.

We forget that dancers are artists first, and being purposeful with each movement helps us compose our story.  The truth is that to become a master in this craft, it takes a whole lot more than a large repertoire of moves… It takes an understanding of composition, music, culture, and oneself.  Inspired by the music, every single movement is intentionally executed.  Dancers tell a story in each dance, and every dance is a unique experience.

Let’s dance by telling our stories, and hopefully inspire the next generation with our compassion and vulnerability.