From Fred Bijster, The value of dancing is not to understand, but to be entertained

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From Fred Bijster,

Ever wondered why children are so different from us? I did and I still do.

The world of children is one of magical moments. And then we send them to school…

First we kill the magic by making them understand, giving logical explanations for all we can see.

Then we kill the fun, because once you understand, you can’t do everything you would like to do (knowing the consequences).

And that is only the beginning. The education goes on and on.

Now do not say that living in a world of magic is for children only; it isn’t. It is culture-bound, not age-bound.

In most of what we call “primitive cultures” the magic remains intact for a lifetime, even generation after generation. But we in our culture must analyse, understand, discover the logic and write it down in books. As if that is all there is.

And nobody wonders if we miss out on something by doing that. If you do not agree, just read some books on mythology and you’ll understand (I hope). Or watch The Lord of the Ring! Both options will allow you to leave behind all you’ve learned and be thoroughly entertained.

A beautiful example of what I mean is something I experienced a long time ago.

We were, as part of our education, given a rat (yes, the animal Rattus Rattus Norvegicus). A dead one, but still clearly a rat. I think I saw him a day earlier messing around in a cage and very much alive. We also had a scalpel and were instructed to dissect it into recognizable peaces: skin, muscles, the different organs, bones.

In short: at the end of the day the table was all red and covered with a great variety of particles that we could give a name and describe. Looking back at it, I still wonder where the rat had gone. It was nowhere to be found.

Even when we gave value to all different particles heaped up, I had no idea of the total value of the rat as a whole. That was totally gone. It didn’t add up to be a rat! I learned a lot, but my eyes could no longer see the rat. That was when I decided I’d rather look at a living rat than all the elements.

Of course you wonder what this has to do with dancing. Well, there we go.

Some of us think dancing is entertainment and I tend to agree with them. So when you do it, you must be entertaining.

But also when you watch it, you must be in the “entertaining-mood”. Otherwise it simply doesn’t work. A matter of sound communication.

Do not, like you are taught in some of the famous adjudicator-courses, look at the separate elements, dissecting the dancing into some 25 or more different parts.

You will never see the soul; you will miss the entertainment. There is no magic left. The fun has gone. The beauty is no longer there. The dance is killed. Not by the dancers, mind you, but by the way you look at it.

Some wise man once said “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and that tells it all: if you do not look for it, you will not see it. And if we all fail to see and appreciate it, the beauty will go away.

Why wouldn’t we, judge or simple audience, look for the beauty and allow ourselves to be entertained?

Like when we go and watch a show of a magician, or a film? Be “in for a surprise”. Mind you, I’m not saying that you should throw away the knowledge you have; simply look with a different eye and discover what you might have missed before.

If you can do that, you are in for a wonderful experience. Not always, but when it comes, it is a gift of great value. For you and for the dancer. It is like speaking the same language and connecting through it.

Do not allow others to take away the value of being entertained by wonderful performers. In German there is a lovely word for it: “Empfindung”.

If we look for the beauty, we will see it and by rewarding it the dancing will become more beautiful. And we are all more entertained!

Fred Bijster


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