Celebrate The Phenomenon
Countless pages have been written about advancements in the fields of technology, medicine, even sports. Is the same focus and attention being offered the arts, particularly the world of dance? Granted, unlike so many other fields, in dance there are no accepted or standardized benchmarks that allow us to measure progress and evolution. The very nature of dance is evolution. Perhaps it is best to let the art form morph and evolve with every step it takes and never attempt to calculate where it has been or where it will go.
However, I must proclaim that I have personally witnessed incredible achievements in dance, perhaps immeasurable but most definitely notable. I have the privilege of participating in a special world – the truly phenomenal world of the dance convention. I realize that this world is completely unknown to most of my soccer mom or corporate executive neighbors. It is a world often misunderstood by dance elitists, dismissed as dance “sport” with trophies. Still, the dance convention allows me to enjoy over twenty thousand dancers per year and witness significant advancements in the field of dance.
My personal testament is not in an effort to measure or calculate, but to truly celebrate!
The strides in sheer strength, execution, and technical proficiency are impressive, too numerous to detail, and perhaps the least significant. It’s the budding young artists that I find most remarkable. It’s the unexpected levels of creativity and musicality, the fluidity and quality of movement, even the sheer joy and passion that force me to remind myself that I am watching teenagers – and younger!
This is a true “phenomenon” as per the Merriam-Webster definition: “a rare or significant fact or event; an exceptional, unusual, or abnormal person, thing, or occurrence.”
This new generation of dancers has respectfully accepted the legacy of their predecessors and is triumphantly lunging in new directions, redefining the journey, and finding their own way. Like art and the creative process itself, these young dancers know no boundaries, no limits, no fears.
It is both humbling and exhilarating to watch this evolution. It is exciting to imagine what each next step will bring.
I am proud to be a part of the extraordinary world of the dance convention which is nurturing this new breed of dancer, this new level of dance. Perhaps it is time that this evolution is properly chronicled.
At the very least, it should be noticed – and celebrated!
Joe Lanteri is the Executive Director of the New York City Dance Alliance and serves on the dance faculties of Steps on Broadway and The Juilliard School