More is less

By Fred Bijster

In ancient Greece some great philosophers influenced the thinking of mankind, even of nowadays. One of their important concepts (Plato) is that of the “The Idea”.

It is totally different from having an idea (having a thought, a plan, a design). The Idea is a philosophical abstraction, an archetype: the arch-image of all we know and can think of. Not bound by time or space. The Idea as an achetype is huge. Only in it’s many manifestations in time and space it is always limited.

To bring it more down to earth and simplify it (sorry): the table in your house was an idea from one designer at a certain time and now in a certain space.
The Table (archetype) can have all forms and shapes but still we will recognize it as a table. Why this story?

The Dance is such a thing; we all recognize dancing when we see it in all it’s different manifestations: ballet, streetdance, folkdance, even the mating-dances of animals will be considered to be dancing by most of us.

Thanks to Descartes and his friends we feel the urge to further define all we can see, make it rational, put it in a box. Hence the different definitions.

Thanks to Alex Moore and Walter Laird the definitions of our dancing are even more firm.

They created, by defining the music and technique, a certain style in each of the dances that we, in our own world, generally use. The ballroom and latin (5 each).

Still, even with these strong definitions, a lot of freedom within each dance is still allowed.

When we hear music and see a dance (even when it is not “authentic”) we will still call it a rumba or a tango. Why? Probably we have no other word available and it is the closest we can think of. Or have all our dances become “archetypes” themselves??

Always discussions have been around and questions posed of the order: “isn’t this ballet”, “is that cha cha or disco”, “is this authentic”? And always a certain consensus was reached and the dances developed to what we have now. But we will still recognize the samba they did 50 years ago, although it is totally different from the one we see today. And that goes for all dances.

So, even with the strong definitions the dances were given enough space to create a wide scope and allow many different influences to enrich these dances.

They became more……. They all developed towards “archetypes” in our minds; we recognize them in all their different forms and shapes. Not bound in time or space.

And what are we doing now? We kill this process even before we are finished! Our need to rationalize everything

(some judging-courses look like a surgeons’ manual)

and a second desire to become what we are not (stories, sport and art are different archetypes and most probably stronger in our minds). Both are layers that might overtake and deny our own source, background and development. I’ll illustrate this with a few examples.

“Rumba is the story about a man and a woman”. Yes, it is, but it is much more and they do not have to make love all the time.

“Paso doble is the bullfight”. Yes, it is, but it is also the flamenco. And more.

Take all the dances and try to define them in terms like that. You’ll have a problem. And still we all recognize all these dances in their many forms. So why narrow it down??

It gets even worse if we call them all sport or art. Yes, dancing is a physical exercise, yes dancing is an artistic activity. But why narrow it down to one of the two??

You may use all of it to describe our Dances, but make sure when giving this information that you are only adding and not denying the rest by doing so.

If you deny the rest, you make your addition a restriction and turn more into less…….

And some are doing just that.

Fred Bijster

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