Dance must be one of the oldest art forms in existence. In some ways, one could even say that our entire existence began as a cosmic dance that created life as we know it.
If we fast forward to dance as the art form we recognize today, we see that every culture contains an expression of dance movement. It therefore presents an expression that is stylistically unique, yet connects us all.
Maybe it’s this significance that has seen dance feature on screens since the first days of motion picture. Eadweard J. Muybridge’s pioneering work in photographic studies of motion and early motion picture projection featured dance in his famous Animal Locomotion series (Woman Dancing (Fancy): Plate 187 from Animal Locomotion (1887)). When movies first began to screen in theatres, they were often accompanied by song and dance numbers.
The introduction of sound in motion picture paved the way for the golden age of Hollywood where the musical took centre stage and dance featured as a defining storytelling element. Bollywood encapsulates this same usage. And although musical movies and dance films have always been around, the mid-2000s saw a surge in a more contemporary style of storytelling with dance at the forefront, in particular with the launch of the “Step Up” series and the films that would follow on from its lead. Whether one believes in the quality of such films or not, the fact remains, people crave dance on screen. And it’s not only on screen – it’s in theatres, in studios, in classrooms, in bedrooms, in nature, in the streets where crowds gather around busking entertainers or participate in flash mob performances.
In a world where slogans bombard our sensory sphere, dance is one of the rare art forms that needs no words. And perhaps a language without words is what is needed right now – an expressing of moving images that not only share cultural beauty, but also evoke universally felt emotions that tell a story of humanity and our connection. So watch the rhythm, feel the rhythm, and always dance on!