Dance is more than just movement, it’s a universal language.
On Wednesday, Feb. 14, seventeen people lost their lives in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Among the killed was 14-year-old Jamie Guttenberg. At a candlelight vigil on Feb. 15 honoring all who were killed in the tragedy, Guttenberg’s father, Fred Guttenberg described her as “the life of the party, the energy in the room, she made people laugh, and she was always known.”
Included in all her qualities that have been shared with the world by her family and friends, Guttenberg was a talented dancer.
On Feb. 17 and 18, those competing in dance competitions all around the country were asked to wear orange ribbons, Guttenberg’s favorite color, in honor of the late 14 year old. However, the outreach of the orange ribbons are now exceeding the platform of dance competitions. Videos of people dancing all over the world wearing the orange ribbons are now surfacing on the internet. The videos are seen to reach as far as Paris.
In the wake of the tragedy in Parkland, dance has served as a coping mechanism to bring people together.
When talking to Keene State College dancers about how they feel dance brings people together, they all expressed a similar idea; dance is a universal concept.
Senior Amanda Untracht said, “Dance is a language. Whether or not you understand it, there’s still this feeling that anyone who observes it, and or does it, leaves with. So it’s not so much a spoken language, but there’s this overarching theme of connection with it because it’s not spoken.”
While there is a theme of connection as Untracht explained, junior Faith Pudlo pointed out you don’t have to have a similar background or interests as someone to be able to dance with them. “You don’t have to have anything in common with someone and you can create any sort of dance. You can have a relationship through movement without knowing anything about them, or even being able to speak the same language,” Pudlo continued. “I think the universal aspects of dance are incredible and I think globally that has always been a constant with movement.”
The dancers were also asked what being a dancer means to them. Sophomore Chelsea Hance said, “To me, it’s about expression. I could say what I want through my movement without actually talking. It’s very free and it’s a form of letting go.”
What makes dancers unique is that they can all have a different reason for why they dance and what it means to them. Pudlo talked about what being a dancer means to her, personally. “Being a dancer, for me, mainly means having an understanding of my own body and space and awareness, but also being able to tune into the energy and movement of others. And incorporating that into my everyday life,” Pudlo said.
Untracht summarized what dance means to most dancers by saying, “It means the world to me.”
Whether you’re dancing in room or dancing in a famous company, there is a unity that can be found across all spectrums.
Dance does not see race, gender or wealth. It’s a form of communication that can be used to bring all different kinds of people together. When dancers can unite over a common heartbreak or common movement, that unity can be powerful.
Erin McNemar can be contacted at email@example.com