The attempt to find a definitive definition of dance is probably as old as dance itself, and that’s pretty old. But think about these possibilities:
Dance is movement aware of itself.
Dance is spontaneous movement discovered.
Dance is a birthright.
Dance is a disciplined art-form that people spend lifetimes refining.
Dance is a multidisciplinary form that can incorporate movement with text, stories, music, costumes, environments, film, video, masks, mud, fans, sequins, and so on.
Dance is what happens when movement is stripped to its essence.
Dance engages the body as a whole.
Dance engages the body in its smallest moving parts.
Some people dance most when they get their tractors to dance (or their banners, their airplanes, their dogs, their cranes, their computers.)
Dance is a communal form rooted in the interaction of minds, spirits, and moving bodies.
Dance begins in solitude.
Dance is a highly structured activity employing patterns, disciplines, protocols, techniques, and codes.
Dance does not require rules.
Dance is spiritual, political, intellectual, medicinal, emotional, communal, individual, creative, imitative, codified, free.
Dance is any combination of the above at once.
John Borstel is Director of Humanities for the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.