This is the final instalment from a series of interviews from February 2018, presented in partnership with ICDF’s Network for Men in Dance.
Joshua Jason Smith (UK)
Interviewer: Josh, do you think that young people today see dance as part of life and expression, not just as a courtship ritual or as a theatrical performance?
I do believe that many young people understand dance to be a very useful tool in self-expression. When talking about young dancers, I feel this self-expression deepens and becomes a sense of self, or even becoming one’s identity…
Young dancers find themselves in very categorised social circles, depending on skill-level, genre of dance and knowledge of current and past movements within the chosen style… Often a young person is driven to want to train more, learn the history on the chosen style and become more integrated in the style’s culture, sometimes by simply wearing the clothing that currently fits with the group, leading to a much more cemented sense of self within dance and dance culture.
Young dancers, and other young people especially, may have lost the understanding a tradition of dance in courtship/ritual. But I wonder if young people are consciously thinking this way whilst approaching another person on the dance floor?
I’d like to ask you, do you think dance can change people’s lives?
I think in regards to mental health it’s very possible that dance can be a factor in recovery. Therapy experts suggest talking about your mental health, as it’s beneficial. So to be able to express yourself or talk with physical movements specifically created with intentions of letting go of troubling thoughts, in my opinion can massively reduce anxiety and stress.
The physicality of dance will also improve someone’s mental health, a sense of achievement after completion of a project, dance-class or dance-related work-out, paired with the endorphins released from physical exercise will be favourable to one’s life.
Studies done at the American psychiatric association led by Doctor John Raidy, showed that physical exercise was much more effective than anti-depressants such as benzodiazepines. This alone is proof that dance can drastically improve someone’s life, connect that with the social possibilities, culture shifts and all-round improving health, dance is possibly changing thousands of lives every year!
Men in Dance Network
Any man interested in dance can just go on Facebook, type in ‘Men in Dance Network’, and ask to join the group.
(If there are women who have questions, or are looking for pointers about working alongside men as dancers, we’ll be trying to build up suggestions and resources for that also, as Frequently Asked Questions. So address any enquiries to Andy Raine.)