Planet Dance

Planet Dance A visitor’s guide to contemporary dance So, you made it to Planet Dance. Welcome! Now, you may be far from home but please don’t feel like a stranger in a strange land. True, the planet may look a little alien and its inhabitants can behave oddly. But just remember, dancers are humanoids, just like you. Right now, you’re probably thinking:
where should I visit? What are the local customs? Is there a map? A phrasebook? This guide aims to give you some practical answers, useful advice, and help in getting around. So relax, have fun and enjoy your stay. You’re on holiday from Planet Earth now. Welcome to Planet Dance! Planet Dance is about the same size as Earth, although much more sparsely populated. You’ve arrived in the zone commonly called contemporary dance, and this is where we’ll mostly be staying on this trip. But first, it’s worth taking a look around to get our orientation. The first thing you’ll notice is that everything moves. Not just the people, but the places too. The whole planet is made up of currents, some broad and slow-moving, some fast and changeable. That’s why maps of Planet Dance
can look like charts of the sea: they’re designed to help you navigate your way around, not tell you exactly what is where. Cartographers have commonly identified two poles on Planet Dance, performance dance and social dance. Towards the social pole are regions such as folk dance, club dance and ballroom dance. Inhabitants tend to be more interested in participating than in showing and watching. But go towards the performance pole, and the division between performer and spectator becomes a much bigger deal. You can think of it like this: social dance
is basically a special part of life; performance dance is a special part of theatre. Contemporary dance lies towards the performance pole, but before we start settling in, let’s take a look at who else is around here. A big neighbour is ballet, where the dancers make long lines with their bodies and have a look of lightness. They often tell of myths and fairytales, and how different women are from men. Ballet is just one of the many regions that
border contemporary dance, and looking around you can see a profusion of other styles, characters and customs… Now, let’s take a look at the people here
in contemporary dance. They are a very mixed bunch. Many have arrived here from somewhere
else altogether. In fact, the one thing these dancers have in common is their love of travelling. They like exploring, finding new places, discovering new things. So you might meet someone
who started over in street dance and studied in ballet before landing up here in contemporary. They come here because it’s a place which prizes experimentation, invention and non-conformity. They are a mixed and unsettled group. Their search for the new can make contemporary dancers unpredictable, but many visitors like them for that very reason: it’s what gives them their edge. So there you have the basic geography of Planet Dance. Just remember that the whole place is on the move. Don’t be surprised: dancers are always moving. It’s what they do. Now you have a sense of orientation. Great! But you might be wondering: what if someone tries to communicate with me? How can I understand
them? Don’t worry. We take a look at these questions in the next episode: Body Talk


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