German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer made the discovery that the original meaning of the word “play” (spiel) is dance.
As I get older, I’m noticing that there is less and less time available for me to play. There is less time to be goofy, to take risks, to laugh, to embrace silliness. In the grown-up world, serious efficiency often takes the place of playful creativity. I’ve found the best way to escape the rigid feeling I get from too many hours in front of a computer screen is to dance. I take at least a half hour everyday to blast music in my apartment and dance like no one is watching.
Playing through dance isn’t only a way to blow off steam. It’s also a way to reconnect with the world around you.
When we dance, we use our bodies as instruments of play and attune ourselves to the perpetual change inherent in nature. When we dance, the distinction between subject and object becomes confused in the movement of the dancing body. When we dance, our mind and body acknowledge and manifest their unique and intimate relationship.
As William Butler Yeats asked,
“How can we know the dancer from the dance?”
“Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts. For it is no mere translation or abstraction of life. It is life itself.”
~ Henry Havelock Ellis
“If we seek the real source of the dance, if we go to nature, we find that the dance of the future is the dance of the past, the dance of eternity, and has been and always will be the same…
The movement of waves, of winds, of the earth is ever the same lasting harmony.”
~ Isadora Duncan
The next time you feel disconnected, remember your ability to play. Let your body experiment with all of the different ways it can move. Don’t be afraid to look silly, this is about changing how you feel. Playfulness is a part of the human experience; we shouldn’t be ashamed or scared of bringing it to life.
“We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.” ~ Japanese Proverb
Bonus: Next-level dance…
Cassandra Smith is an editorial intern at elephant journal. She is a fifth generation Colorado native who believes dance has the potential to liberate human consciousness from its cultural prison. Cassandra formerly trained at Boston Ballet and is currently a senior at University of Colorado Boulder studying journalism, sociology and philosophy. Read her blog at cassandralanesmith.com