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.