Dance: Current Working Definition

Originally published on the 25th of July 2018

My current (slightly lofty) working definition, since someome asked:

  • Dance is a universal human activity based around the aesthetic experience of movement – i.e. it goes beyond the functional aspect of movement to include the artistic, symbolic and expressive.

  • This can be in the context of recreation, ritual and religious activity, social encounter, the challenging or reinforcement of social/tribal norms and values, performance, healing and many other contexts.

  • It is inherently a social activity, in that dance must be shared to be completed. The context of sharing my be co-participation, education or spectatorship but also can be shared with the gods and the elements.

  • The content of movement in dancing can be anything from the most pedestrian and basic, to the most sublime and virtuosic. Dance is often blended with, and enriched by, other art forms such as the musical, theatrical and visual arts, but has an integrity independent of them.

Sebastian Bechinger