I looked up cousin in the dictionary, and one definition says that a cousin is “a relative descended from one’s grandparent or more remote ancestor by two or more steps and in a different line.” I’m not sure I understand every word in this definition, but I like it very much. I like the idea of descended relatives, I like the idea of remote ancestry, I like the idea of two or more steps (how about a thousand steps?), and I like the idea of different lines.
As I see it, dancing is a cousin of walking, descended from a remote common ancestor by two or more steps and in a different line. The common ancestor is, of course, locomotion.
My good friend Wikipedia tells me that “animal locomotion, in ethology, is any of a variety of movements or methods that animals use to move from one place to another.” Walking issues from the locomotion source; so do crawling, dancing, swimming, running, jumping, and a whole gaggle of actions involved in getting you from here to there, and from there to here.
Sensing the ancestral connections between dancing and walking is very useful. In fact, just thinking about it will light up some circuitry in body and mind. And the circuitry will get you loco-moving real nice.
A good starting point is the passage we made, as babies, from horizontal to vertical, via the diagonal. What drives the baby? The magnetic power of desire and intention, embodied as a spiraling movement.
Dancing means keeping your joints available. Whether you move or not, you’re ready to do it—ready and willing. Which joints shall move? The possibilities are endless, but hips, knees, and ankles make for a fine combo. We are innately available, and the least stimulus triggers our desire to move.
A little girl who’s already an expert walker starts shaping her walking into specific dancing steps. It’s interesting to see her learning process: lots of fun, lots of sensorial responses, lots of intuition and imitation—and a bit of watching, analyzing, and consciously trying to learn a posture or step. And it’s interesting to see that the adult dancers whom she’s modeling are . . . walking.
Dance-as-locomotion is only different from walking in that the rhythms and gestures are enhanced in some way. You could, if you wished, dance up and down the boulevard. And you wouldn’t look any crazier than ladies in high heels and tight skirts (who at any rate are doing their own ritualized walk-dance hybrid).
How much “dancing” does dancing involve? There’s a continuum from zero to infinity. Perform the most elaborate choreographies to the most complex sound tracks, and you’re dancing at one extreme of the continuum. Stand still and available, and you’re dancing at the other extreme of the continuum. Lift an arm, take a step; smile; you’re dancing somewhere along the continuum. Look at this fellow here. He’s so integrated that by simply taking a breath he’s dancing already.
And there’s dancing-dancing. You know: dancing. Watch the pros, and I bet you’ll see that they’re just walking after all.
You're born to dance, but it doesn't mean you have to dance-dance. Just go from here to there, and you'll fulfill your destiny. But why not fulfill it in three-four time, syncopated?
©2016, Pedro de Alcantara