If the Principles are the same, it does not matter if the design is different.
Written by Madeleine Twyman
We must respect our differences as dancers and allow the body a period of time to search for its own path, phase by phase. While I am speaking to dancers, the journey is universal, parallel to life and applicable to any path. We have all been deeply influenced by societies’ validation for conformity and no matter how subtle the influences may appear to be, it affects us all. As educators, be it dance or otherwise, we should analyze to what degree this effects our youth specifically from the psychological perspective of teaching.
I notice many dance students have similar ways of dealing with the symptoms of the anxiety produced from this societal code of conformity. It comes out in perfectionism, crippling worry, attention deficit disorders, low self-esteem, eating disorders, fear of the unknown and fear of delayed gratification. Personalities tend to merge into copies of what is deemed safe and there at the neutral temperature of never too hot and never too cold, they live. Afraid to be themselves as much as they are to be someone else so they settle for ‘nobody’. But yet this ‘nobody’ state still has an imperative requisite for superiority so it follows that the attraction to competitive situations are not only necessary, but human. Not left nor right, they are left in the middle of somewhere that is not their home, which should essentially be the only goal: a state of peace and happiness.
Dance is one way to connect with oneself just as there are many other paths, but dance is one I know and can testify to its potential to unlock many mental doors that could otherwise remain closed. It is essential for youth to develop sufficient tools to navigate the ebbs and flows of life and make contact with their inner reservoirs of strength. Art is a way to do this. The artistic path will not allow one to believe that it is realistic to maintain consistency when change is the only certainty and our bodies do not last forever.
What would an environment, space, school etc look like that catered to fostering individuality? Thats what I want The Blue Institute to look like. It would surely breed great creativity in all forms of expression, both in dance and beyond. Cultivating imaginations through self-discovery is key while mistakes and accountability are vital for the expansion of the mind.
Visualizing should also be given our full attention as well, as we cannot achieve and desire what we cannot see. But are we giving our kids the space they need to dream? Has daydreaming been replaced by screen time? Everywhere is starting to look the same architecturally in Canada, identical houses on an identical street with an identical plaza, and sterile school buildings, all while scrolling the identical Instagram feeds – this is the daily scenery of the average suburban teen: can we blame them for conforming? Where is the art, the change, the variation in the theme? I respect individuality so much now when I see it in young people because I know how hard it is to actualize in today’s climate. That in itself is a form of activism and bravery.
The greater the creativity, the greater the contribution one will make to their world and to those around them. In dance if you apply the correct principles, surrender to the repetition and prepare the body, the muscle memory will eventually activate. Martha Graham once said That the body does not search outside itself for the movement, it comes from deep inside. The movement is in our memories, our dna, but we have to get to a point where we can remember it. The beauty is that it can be recognized it in all human forms: short/long/small/large it doesn’t matter. As long as the correct principles are applied, the individual will emit an energy that cannot lie, simply because it is. The design may be different, but the feelings evoked share the same truth.