More than Moving by Emma Hopley

Whilst watching television and reading articles recently, I’ve reminded of things I have been questioning a lot, and the fears I have been sharing with classmates and housemates. In our world there’s all this suffering and injustice and poverty, people are homeless and dying from treatable, preventable disease, others are suffering mental illness in silence, unable to get help… and here we are in a dance studio 5 days a week.

Is dancing a selfish career? Who am I benefitting? Am I making a difference to the community and the world I live in? Am I ok with my answers to these questions? I mean, I love to dance, I love the way it feels to take a space, put on some music and move for the pure joy of it. For myself. But I also love people, and it pains me that I am a white woman from a first world country who has the capacity to help others born into a different set of circumstances. Can I do that through dance?

Now, many people think I’m mad for choosing to write a dissertation this past term, but there were things that have been really bothering me, and I wanted to research to make myself feel better (more weirdness I know). So after all the researching and referencing and writing, I did find some things reassuring, and I did form some opinions of my own.

‘I began to feel frustrated by the disconnection of what I was being asked to do onstage, compared to the richness and complications of the real world I observed beyond the dance studio.’ Said Lloyd Newson. I want to make dance, and be a part of dance that can make a difference to the world, or to the way my audiences see the world. Dance can have a statement behind the movement that makes people feel something, and not just kinaesthetic pleasure or aesthetic pleasure, but empathy, guilt, anger, passion, inspiration and activism.

We live in politically uncertain times, which affect not just politicians, but our lives and the lives of people around us. As artists, we cannot ignore this. Nina Simone articulates ‘How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?’ As movers we have the capacity to make people feel the real human nature of an issue that can become a load of jargon and bullshit when articulated by politicians and the media. The images we create and the messages we convey can have real powers of persuasion if we are to utilise them effectively. Dance has been used in this way historically, and I hope that our generation will continue to do so in the future.

If I am to be a dancer- which I desperately want to be- I would like to do more than move. I wish to combine dancing with aid work, community work, and political work- and move people and change people’s opinions and help people less fortunate than myself along the way. The goal is to be a mover who moves people.


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