Frontline Interpretive Dancing

The Wikipedia description of interpretive dance says it aims to translate emotions and human conditions.  That is what heritage interpreters do, yet how many of us dance in a program?


I don’t have a dancer’s physique.  My training started and ended with a European folk dancing class in my experimental college years.  My complete lack of any inborn rhythm proved to be an insurmountable challenge.  Working as a frontline interpreter, I decided dancing without rhythm is just thinking outside the box.  It’s a good thing.  


My daughter was three or four when she told me that I should move like a butterfly whenever I feel frustrated.  It was a wise suggestion.  Try being angry and fluttering like a butterfly at the same time.  (Walk on your tiptoes, lifting your knees to waist-level, while raising your arms up and down like flapping wings.)   It sure is hard to do both.  


I used my dance moves as comic relief in a program about interpretation.  I said participants might try the dance should they ever feel aggravated because the interpretive equation doesn’t work well when one is mad.  I recently had a program participant from years ago recall my performance as well as the message I was giving.  And she is not the only one.  Who knew a bearded man pretending to be a butterfly could be so impactful!


I also pretend to be a person seeing a snake.  I hop up and down repeatedly switching feet with each leap while pointing and repeating the word “snake” in a high pitch.  I did not invent these moves, but my rendition seems to lighten the mood enough that people can consider the valuable role of snakes in a fresh way.


Does anyone else dance?  If you have busted a move for visitors or have seen it, please leave a comment on how it was done.  The Wiki article says interpretive dance “is frequently enhanced by lavish costumes, ribbons, or spandex body suits.”  I never really considered doing that, but even without spandex, it is possible to get that powerful mix of being funny and having something to say.

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