If you ask me what my art form is, dance is not my answer. Yet I love dancing in my own older stiff male way and I love to see the joy visible when good dancers are in full flow.
As the world learns more about what’s happening everywhere, it’s easier to see how dance is universal, maybe even more than music. In the great activity hubs of the world, whether people gather for tourism or work, dance is a way people meet and find that essential joy in common.
A good place to learn
It’s good to be where the world meets to dance. It is where you’ll see kindness, shared joy, expression open to the sky and an understanding of our mutual humanity. Places like this are worth living in. They draw out a better understanding of your own wisdom, highlight your confidence or lack of it and in a roundabout way help you see how you can be a more positive influence on others. In a funny way, your insights into how you dance are also insights into how you lead.
There’s rarely war where the whole world can dance together. When people travel from everywhere to everywhere else, all kinds of dance go with them. Next to the temples in Bali there’s a thriving Latin American dance school, with a band drawn from four nationalities; in the depths of suburban Melbourne you’ll find the Irish dancing schools using the same local hall as the Indian, Chinese, Greek, and Lebanese dancing schools and of course now the many vibrant forms of African dance.
The students are from everywhere. This is how mutual understanding is transmitted across the world, not just through translating the words of other cultures but by experiencing the joys of other cultures. We also learn by experiencing the hard effort, the discipline and focus needed to produce works of art.
Delight in difference
There are no comparisons that work as differences between dances become sources of inspiration rather than conflict. Try learning the tin whistle or the shakuhachi or the Balinese flute or the didgeridoo well enough to work with the dancers! Simplicity demands discipline if art is to be the outcome.
In the midst of the dance, the world’s greed and fear look stupid. Dance gets the point of life where politics so often misses it. Your identity in the dance can only be you, even in the most austerely traditional of dances.
Perhaps we could do with more dancing when our politicians gather….. Maybe there’s a place in the future for a TV show ‘Dancing for peace’. There’s certainly a place for it in teams at work, since great teams use their internal differences as a source of creativity rather than conflict.
Where’s your right place?
If you’re looking to your future and now feel out of place, perhaps a way to find your right place is to dance your way to it. That might sound a bit radical to the rationalists amongst you, but logical thinking needs a creative partner to produce the best outcome when things are messy. But for my clients trying to craft a new future, combining insights from dance (or other art forms) at least mean it’s a more whole self who’s making the decision, not just the head. Gather friends or your work colleagues, get lessons, create events, celebrate and trust that you can craft something deeper than entertainment from it.
There’s a more serious line to this thought, too. The funding for arts teaching in schools is under attack (in the West, at least), in favour of learning skills for jobs. This trend goes against the science, which, in a nutshell, says that students of all ages perform better all round in all subjects, if they are also engaging with artistic subjects.
In a way, it’s simple. Learning skills will give you a job, while learning the arts gives you meaning. Blending art with high level learning, such as executive programs, MBA programs or directorship programs has a similar effect and art based leadership development processes are becoming more common. Art is a swift path to meaning, which accelerates the learning. When I’m helping a CEO and his or her team get better at their complex roles, art plays a key role in uncovering stuff swiftly that just does not emerge from other kinds of engagement.
I usually do this through drawings but I’m now playing with the idea of dancing some meaning out of a situation, so those of you who are in my programs now, watch out for some fun at our next session!
A place of work that is also a place where the whole world dances…. wouldn’t that be an exciting place to be!