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Adrienne Canterna: What is Dance?


Dance is communication…It is freedom and expression…A blessed gift from God…Dance is an elite artform……………I believe dance is love…

Adrienne Canterna is an international ballet soloist who makes her home in Baltimore, and is developing her company (American Dance Artists) there.

Nejla Yatkin: What is Dance?


This is a very difficult but worthwhile question. To me dance is the language of the soul; it is the way that humans communicate what is inexpressible and it is a fundamental way in which people connect – beyond and prior to words. For example, the very first dance performance that I remember was at a Turkish wedding in Berlin. I was five years old and sitting with my parents when all of the activities of the event were stopped. A space was made for this woman in an amazing costume and emanating some kinetic energy. The music started and she was simply phenomenal. I was so impressed by the dance that I still have the image of the dance and the dancer clearly in my mind.

The dancer seemed not to be from this world. It appeared like her feet were floating on the ground as if gravity did not affect her. Throughout her dance she transformed and became fluid like a string of energy moving through space and time. Real time stopped, space became infinite, and nothing else mattered. I was mesmerized by her being. For a moment I forgot where I was, I forgot who I was and I wished that the feeling would never stop. At some point, she turned, spun and reflected the light. I think everybody felt dizzy watching her. At the last beat of the music, the dancer dropped down on her knees in a perfect hinch, giving into gravity and becoming one with the floor. What an ending it was. I will never forget this moment. It was a moment of total silence. For a second everybody was holding their breath – individually as well as collectively. We were all so moved. In that space/time, the crowd seemed to be one thought, one feeling, and one experience.

This was my first experience when I consciously felt that human beings could connect with one another beyond the spoken word. Mary Wigman, one of the great German modern dance expressionists, once wrote that “dancing is a living language, which speaks directly to all mankind without any intellectual detours. The mediator of this language is the human body, the instrument of the dance.” After living through that moment, decades ago, I knew what she meant and could not agree more.

Nejla Yatkin is Artistic Director of NY2Dance.

Kathryn Sparks: What is Dance?


When I dance I am most who I am, before myself, before my friends and relatives, and before God. I am the most Kathryn Sparks that I could possibly be. And this occurs when I dance from my heart. I have a sense when I am dancing from my heart and when I am simply doing movement. Moving is not dancing. Dancing is something divine I think. When I dance I experience the present moment in its purest form. Rarely do we as humans truly experience the present moment. Praying is the closest thing to dancing that I know. I would say that when I truly pray, I experience a similar sensation of the present moment, of being connected to Life, to God, rooted in who I am, empowered by my sense of self where God’s Spirit lives. And I think that ultimately, when I am truly praying, truly in relationship with God, then what I am actually doing is that I am listening. My mind has stopped its mile a minute thinking or its mile a minute asking God for things, or its mile a minute listing the people I know who need God’s help (which is a good thing for me to list but it’s different from listening to God). Listening when I pray doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, the mind completely present and yet completely halted of diversion so that God may speak. It does happen though, so I know that it exists. As I know that I dance. People say that I look aglow when I dance. I only know what my body knows, so I only have what people tell me to go on about whether my dancing touches them. And that, like choreography, is the ultimate goal. To touch people: to communicate something to people, to communicate God’s love, God’s grace. When I dance I live and breathe God’s love, God’s grace. Choreography is sort of proclamation or testimony. Perhaps dance is that: a proclamation. I must know the steps that someone has directed me to do or that I have created for myself to do them well enough to free myself to actually dance. Dancing is being entirely caught up in the moment.

Kathryn Sparks studied dance at Connecticut College and American University and recently completed her masters degree at Wesley Theological Seminary, where she is currently adjunct professor of dance and theology.

Jane Jerardi: What is Dance?


Dance is in large part a celebration of being human; perhaps a method for becoming more human. Dance is ordinary, sensuous, and shows us in all our beauty, something
visceral and real, moving. You know it when you see it: whether it’s on the street, on stage, or while singing in the shower. It’s sort of inevitable, and human.

Jane Jerardi is a dancer in DC.

Naoko Maeshiba: What is Dance?


Dance for me is an attempt to find soul.
Naoko Maeshiba is an eclectic artist from Kobe, Japan.