Storytelling in Dance
Did you know that dance is a type of non-verbal communication? When watching a contemporary dance, the dancers will use special facial expressions to tell a story. Also, their movements show what the story is all about. Contemporary dances tend to have deep, dark stories about real-life situations, so it is very important for a dancer to portray their character well, using faces and body language correctly. Mentioned before in “Emotion in Dance,” I explained the importance of passion and feelings when dancing, and how acting is involved in storytelling.
This past year, I was in a dance called “Shake it Out” that told a story about bullying. At the beginning of the dance, one girl was alone on stage. Then, everyone else came out on stage to join her, but whenever she went close to someone, they turned away from her. That was to represent her being all alone. At the end of the dance, one other dancer joined the girl who was being bullied and was her friend.
In order to portray our characters, we had to act. The girl who was being bullied had to be sad and lonely. The girls who were shunning her away had to be rude and mean. The girl who finally accepted the lonely girl had to be kind and caring. As dancers, we have to act. This means using facial expressions and body movements that matched our characters. Frowning or smirking played a big part in representing our characters.
In any dance that uses storytelling, the songs usually tell the same narrative as the choreography. The song “Shake it Out” by Florence and the Machine tells a story about overcoming obstacles, and in this case, the obstacle is bullying.