This past week, our Seminar class has had different faculty members come in to talk about their research, and about dance research in general. We heard from Harmony Bench, Bebe Miller, Norah Zuniga Shaw, and Candace Feck. Each person was equally excited about their research, and each project was entirely different. And the range shown in the research opportunities through dance was the most important thing that I have taken away from this week. Hearing from these artists, I am reassured that there will always be something new to explore in the dance field and a way to dive as deep as I want to answer any question. The dance research lectures have inspired me to question dance in every way I can. Whether that means asking how I can move in a new way or taking a critical eye to dance as an institution, every part of this thing that I love deserves proper analysis.
As I have learned through Seminar’s dance research week, the analysis of dance can carry anywhere from investigating movement and specific choreographers to interpreting movement with a technological standpoint, with those being only a few options of many. Dance research is able to carry the student in any direction for as far as they are willing to go. But with an endless number of opportunities to question, I never know where to begin. I have learned though that the best place to start is investigating what I find especially interesting. Something that Candace Feck talked specifically about, and our other guests implied or talked through thoroughly, was that dance research takes TIME. It is an investment in your schedule, and therefore it is imperative that you are researching something that you find truly fascinating. I have taken these realizations and concluded that research is an extension of yourself. Just as we, as dancers, extend who we are through movement in class and on stage, we can also begin to find extensions in ourselves through a more academic research of dance. Dance research is therefore as much an insight to the researcher’s area of study as it is an insight into who the researcher is. I love that I am learning another outlet through which I can present myself as a dancer, other than pure movement. Dance should be a shared experience, and this is why dance research is imperative to the continuation of a strong dance community. So much of our art is concentrated in the studio, with the shared experience being between dancers and teachers, that we (as dancers) lose the understanding of what it means to purely be a spectator. We, referring again to those experienced in the dance field, know the intelligence that is needed and the tenacity that goes behind producing movement art. But we forget that outsiders of the field do not often know of the extensive knowledge in dancers’ minds. Being able to look at dance and question our field of study through a different lens then, is beneficial not only to the artist who understands and appreciates dance but also to those we are hoping will learn to love our art as much as we do.