Integrated Musical Inspiration

Image from wikipedia,  Musicians of Amun, Tomb of Nakht, 18th Dynasty, Western Thebes.

Image from wikipedia,
Musicians of Amun, Tomb of Nakht, 18th Dynasty, Western Thebes.

My background is stronger in music than in dance, if by shear number of years of experience over any other metric. I can remember singing and making up songs just walking around the neighborhood before I was in kindergarten (so I must have been 4 or so). I started piano in 2nd grade, flute in 5th, piccolo in 7th, mallets (xylophone, marimba, vibraphone) in 9th grade, additional percussion in early college (especially timpani), guitar around my 3rd year of college, doubek and other middle eastern drums near the end of my college years, and continued singing throughout. Music is very nearly how I think (with Color running a close second).

But I never really consciously thought about how integrated music is within dance until today. One of my students wrote the following (quoted with permission).

I’ve avoided proper “workouts” for a while because my mind isn’t engaged, even when I have my headphones in. I find myself thinking about the music, and the movements are things that distract me from that mental stimulation. But in dancing, the movements and the music are integral to one another, so all of me is being involved at the same time. WAY better, IMO.

What a fantastic way to look at it. I think being steeped in music in my very being for most of my life, I hadn’t noticed how connected the music and movement can really be. Of course, I’m reminded that nearly every ATS instructor has mentioned that the movements are inspired and, possibly even dictated, by the inspiration from the music. Many of the instructors talk about the Musicality of our improvisational dance form.

This is an excellent reminder for me to consider how to share this integration with my students. Dancing is more than just a series of steps, performed with technique skill and grace, in shared group formations with my fellow dancers. It is the visual representation of the way in which Music moves my very Heart and Soul, shared with my fellow dancers and then shared together with our audience.

And this satisfies me in a way that few things do.