Spontaneity and Control in Dance

I am at a crossroads. I don’t know what to do, or what to predict. I don’t know what to think, or to reason. I am quite an obsessive control freak when it comes to “planning”. It is part of my nature to ensure “things” go according to “plan”. However, as much as I would like to plan outcomes and control the future, I realised that I am losing the essence of the being in the present.

To regain my spontaneity in life, I picked up West Coast Swing (WCS) . You see, WCS is a improvisation social dance, that is danced according to the music. It is when your body loses control to the music, and you become a living instrument. A living piece of artwork. It has helped me tremendously in stopping my obsessive thoughts on controlling the outcome of my performance. In fact, the whole series of the Scarlet Queen on YouTube is done spontaneously, without much planning. Only an outline. The lines and scripts are said on the spot. There is no preparation. It is all live. There are no cuts, no edits, it is true blue spontaneity in action.

I try to imagine the message and artistic direction I want to convey, and after imagining for some time, I execute it with the best of my abilities given the resources I have in my immediate environment. You see, we humans evolved from monkeys. A few thousand years ago, we were on treetops, swinging around, using our motor and visual skills to navigate lush forests for berries and fruits. The ones who could possibly survive this “treetop” environment, were the ones who had sharp observational skills on detecting food sources and of course, fine motor ability so that one does not fall down from the trees onto the oncoming path of a tiger! In dance, we are using these primal skills in motor coordination and self awareness to execute dance steps. Not for the usage of retrieving food from treetops , but for sport and art (we had evolved from primates!).

As modern day humans, we had lost the connection to forests (which we are originally evolved to fit into), and are now perpetually connected to electronic devices 24/7 the moment we wake up and turn on the alarm clock to dusk when we switch off the lights. We are “electrified” by magnetic fields of radio and internet communication lines, and in transported in metallic vehicles and planes. We are slowly, but surely, evolving to become trans-human – where technology merges with our biological selves to become a mixture of a robot – human, basically.

Before this change takes place and we lose our hearts and emotions to the numbness of scientific evidence and coldness of technology, we have to regain some sort of essence within ourselves. Something… animalistic. Something… primal. Something… that wants to come out. We have not discarded our old ancient brain totally despite how much we want to disown the animalistic side of our natures, we are still – human – not trans-human.

The more we try to align ourselves with angels, the more we fall back into disappointments that we are merely animals. We still need – food, sex and shelter. We can’t live like flying angelic beings who have no need for food or material comforts. There is a old chinese saying. “Love does not quench your thirst when you are thirsty.” As much as we try to aim for the stars, we are still at the mercy of nature.

In dance, we might regain a certain connection with our animal selves. Our instincts. Our biological urge to express ourselves freely, to move wildly, like the days in the tree tops. To feel alive, to feel the connection with nature, with others, with the earth. To attract a mate, to impress others, to show our fine motor skills for a chance of propagation. To be free and wild… away from the constraints of society and social norms. It is … one of the remaining outlets of self expression in a “controlled” illusionary man made environment. That is… the beauty of illusion and control in dance.