Trite as it may sound, dance is art in motion. Classical ballet is the closest mere mortals come to the aesthetic ideals set forth by those Greco-Roman sculptures which inform our collective concept of beauty. As dancers, we stand to benefit immensely from an understanding of where we fit in the world of the arts and how our bodies act as extensions of those ephemeral moments turned eternal that comprise a painting, sculpture, or photograph. There’s a reason some of the greatest choreographic works are either directly inspired by the visual arts or call to mind some particularly great works. When choreographing Apollo, Balanchine turned to the reliefs on ancient urns for inspiration. Dancing Swan Lake this Spring, I could not shake the stereotypical image of Madonna and Child from my head as I held my wrists crossed over my tutu, imagining my tears rolling off my cheek and over my right wrist.
Without an understanding of art, épaulement lacks context, emotions are flat and two-dimensional- in short, our own art loses its color. As such, why not indulge in the museum? Spend an afternoon wandering its halls, taking in and internalizing the frozen human emotion that adorns it walls. Trust me, it helps bring joy to our practice and roots dance in a language that all can enjoy.