co-authored by Ronnie Frenkel.
written to the song: Rappers Delight — The Sugarhill Gang.
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul” ― Martha Graham
“Suck in your stomach Anna”, said my ballet teacher.
“I am..”, I responded.
That was the day I became a bit unsure about ballet. Ballet is elegant and challenging, but for my body confidence…it wasn’t the best. Then, it clicked. I realized that our choreographed ballet routine worked perfectly when danced to “Moment 4 Life” by Nicki Minaj and Drake. I asked my ballet teacher if we could do our ballet routine to hip hop music instead of classical Russian music that they play at hockey games. She said no. That was the day I realized that hip hop is the perfect dance style.
From the first dance class, hip hop instructors preach words of freestyle where “if you forget a dance move just make up your own”. This statement takes the pressure off dancers who aren’t necessarily talented at perfecting a routine 100%. Moreover, hip hop teachers emphasize moving your body parts (yes, you are allowed to have body parts in hip hop dance), the dramatizing or exaggeration of moves, and as previously stated, the importance of freestyle. Freestyle is dance where your brain doesn’t think, your body moves unplanned based on your feelings to the music. Hip hop is a way to express yourself freely without strictness and formality as hip hop is a loose dance. It can be danced in so many different settings: in the kitchen with your sister or just freestyling at a studio. Moreover, hip hop combines other styles of dance from breakdancing, crumping, contemporary, and house. You can make any song a hip hop dance, the key is to just focus on the beat — it is reading between the lines.
What does semiotics say about the importance of dance?
Dance makes you feel part of a community. The best dance routines are the ones where all the group members are in sync or feed off from each others’ moves, energy, or style. There is definitely a “dance community” where dancers help one-another master the moves, come up with new moves, and motivate to strengthen, practice, and not give up.
Dance is an art, and art is expression. If you have ever watched ballet, lyrical, and contemporary dance you recognize that the dancer is trying to tell you a story based on their body language and harmonious movements.
Some say dance is important for courtship. It’s the slow-dancing at Bar Mitzvahs, grinding at the club, and the beautiful dance scene from Dirty Dancing. Dancing gets people’s attention. My friends and I always discuss how when you think of it, clubs are weird. Without even saying anything (or maybe something was said, but the music was too loud) two strangers spot each other on the dance floor, shimmy over and hit it off. The power of dance.
Dance is also important for ritual purposes. Native cultures dance as part of a religious ceremony to give thanks, express prayer, and as a part of story telling. How beautiful is that?
Dance is a part of a cultures customs: “like traditional foods and costumes…helps members of a nation or ethnic group recognize their connection to one another and their ancestors (Danesi, 2004). This can be dancing samba in Brazil, tango in Argentina, or the Hora at Bar Mitzvahs.
Finally, recreation! Dancing for fun or as a workout is amazing. From Zumba, to hip hop and ballet inspired workouts, there is so much to choose from.
Danesi, M. (2004), Messages, Signs, and Meanings. (pp. 61–63). Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press. Print.