25 November 2012

Aged to Perfection

I recently had the honour of attending the International Body Music Festival in Istanbul with dancer and choreographer Sandy Silva. I have always had tremendous love and respect for her and her work, especially having been involved in her latest labour of love which took all of two years to develop. Being from a more mature generation of dancers, I feel that we share a similar relationship with dance that only comes with age and experience.   The landscape of dance education has changed immensely in the past couple of decades, with technology spearheading the way dancers learn and demonstrate their skills. With dance being more accessible online, anyone can watch and learn almost instantly, without leaving their home. It’s a remarkable thing, but not without certain consequences that can affect the standards and traditions of our industry. The basic rules, etiquette, discipline, and professionalism learned in the classroom are often lost or undervalued; customs that can severely affect one’s chances of getting good and steady work. As mature dancers and educators, we live and work by a code that must be carried on to future generations in order to maintain a certain level of respect in our industry.   This has been a milestone year in my life and I have never been so proud to be a mature dancer and to be surrounded by so many who still work and create, not despite having aged, but using experience as their principal asset. As art imitates life, our experiences are what contribute most to the growth in our interpretation of dance and they are what enriches our performance. Much of it has to do with intention. As Sandy puts it, “what becomes more important is not what you can do or how much you can do. It’s being clearer with what you want to say. You’re more efficient, more concerned with really connecting with the audience. It’s not ‘let me show you what I can do’.”   It is the consciousness of fleeting moments that lend to a heightened appreciation for what we do. “The thing about dance is that it’s temporary” says Sandy. “With age, you really appreciate it. You know that everything has an end. You don’t take anything for granted. There is that feeling of the temporary in the present.”   There was a time when dancers were afraid of getting older; counting the years they have left to their career. However, some traditions are meant to be broken. Dance, its interpretation, its appreciation, its creation, does not have an expiry date. If anything, like waiting for a fine wine to age, it only gets better with time.