It is always a wonder how an infant bounces to the beat of a song, without having any instruction on dance. The song causes the infant to move in such a way, that without it, there would be no movement. Even a simple sound coming out of an infant’s mouth can make him move. Dance is a response to sound and music.
Sound is a type of energy measured by frequency. Once we hear sound, it goes through our inner ear and is registered in our brain as nerve impulses. Instruments represent different frequencies. We as humans produce internal sounds, such as the heartbeat. Our internal sounds travel throughout the body, because we are made of matter.
Certain areas of the body respond to the different frequencies of an instrument. Pelvic area responds to the drum, heart reacts to the guitar, and the brain responds to instruments such as the flute. But what is it that causes us to dance? There are many theories, yet none can be explained by science.
Some theorists suggest that dance is a response to something beyond just instruments. Dance is a response to music that is related to the heavenly bodies, a spiritual connection to the universe through music and dance. Others argue that dance is cognition and emotion. In other words, our movements through dance show an understanding of our emotions.
Early forms of dance were used in rituals, such as hunting ceremonies and the birth of a child. Rhythm, melody, and instrumentation produce dance, so as instruments evolved, dance evolved. In royal courts, dancers performed to music produced by more sophisticated instruments, while the primitive instruments were used outside for battle marches.
After reading some of the different theories, I do believe that the human body is in the middle of the equation of music and expression. We hear music, our bodies respond, and we see an expression of that piece of music. People do say how a song makes them feel. That expression, through dance, is that person’s expectation of that song. Is it not true that one song, one piece of music can be expressed in different ways?
Early September 2006, I performed with my dance troupe. We knew ahead of time that two belly dancers were going to perform to our piece of music. The same song, different expression. We saw that the women performed the same piece with more soft movements, whereas we did fast, upbeat moves.
Music makes us move, like the saying goes, “that music just moves me”. I especially know this when I see the man in my life start to move his hips when I put on a favorite CD of mine.
There is no “correct way” of dance, especially now, where music is ever changing with the times. Of course, you wouldn’t do the tango to hip hop music, but one thing is always certain, this relationship of music and dance is an art, a mystery, and a constant in our lives.