Dance: The Language

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  • Kirti Daya

Last year, I found myself in a foreign dance workshop whilst visiting a friend abroad. And when I say foreign, I mean a completely different dance style, language and even dancers.

Walking into the studio felt surreal. After countless hours spent dreaming of getting to dance in a studio I had only seen online, I was suddenly in it. And my god was I nervous. The class consisted of 25, most of them had brought a friend and everybody else kept to themselves. Our warm up was LSD’s Audio which, as a Sia fan, I LOVED. Warm up was interesting because the instructor didn’t really say much but rather demonstrate the stretch and clap her hands when it was time to change position. You could tell that a few of the dancers were regulars because they didn’t really need to watch her in order to know what was next. Her flexibility blew me away and I tried to not show it on my face. All I could think was “what have I gotten myself into?”.  

After we had warmed up, she started to speak to us. And that’s when it got interesting. 

The class was in South Korean. And perhaps it was just my ignorance but I expected an English translation, you know, for all four foreigners in the class. That English translation never came but what did come was a smile and nod to us, and the beginning of Dua Lipa’s One Kiss over the speakers. She started to dance and I was immediately entranced. Her moves, the technicality, the attitude, it was all flawless. Afterward we clapped and then she gestured with her palms open, which basically meant that we should get ready (or at least I think it did because everybody else got into second position). The choreographer would show us the moves, piece by piece and count in South Korean. That much I did know. If she wanted us to repeat a part she would say so, but also roll her fingers around one another to gesture “repeat”. The moves themselves needed no explanation and if she needed to correct a dancer she’d point them out and then change her body shape to show them how to properly perform the action. 

After a while I started to concentrate more on my execution and less on my nerves. By not looking at anybody else apart from the choreographer, I found it easier to focus on ensuring that I remember choreo and do the best possible. The fact that I didn’t have to think about what she was saying at all but simply look and imitate her, also helped in some weird way. By the time we had finished the piece, two hours later, she was smiling and clapping, which I can only assume meant that we did well. 

The entire experience really did reinforce the fact that Dance has no language, but rather is a language all by itself. The movement, the counting, the corrections; these all can be executed effortlessly because dance manages to transcend diversity. I left that class feeling like I had attended a class back home, as accomplished and as proud of myself as I normally am after a workshop. 

I would recommend a foreign dance class to anybody who wishes to explore something out of their comfort zone; dance itself will definitely make you feel right at home, no matter where you are.