The Dancer’s Inner Musicality

As the first modern class of the semester finally took its course, I paraded in with great anticipation to move to adrenaline-pumping music. Three months of summer had staved off the very interaction of movement with music and the class was brimming with anticipation. As our teacher gave the 5,6,7,8 cadence to commence all movement, we were greeted with a loud, repetitive BANG. I stood in slight shock for a moment as I came to the realization that modern class would only be accompanied by a series of “booms” and “bangs” in a rhythmic formation solicited by two bongos. It took a few classes to adjust to the seemingly monotonous “noise” guiding me through class; however, this “noise” molded a new relationship with dance, music, and a deeper understanding between the two.

Over the course of various classes, I’ve come to the realization that dance is not always accompanied by radio hits but rather music in “real time” and even silence. With every strike of the bongo or every breath, there is an internal melody that comes alive through the dancer’s movement. In fact, some of the most compelling moments in a performance are achieved when there is no sound at all. This apparent “silence” allows for both the freedom of expression on the dancer’s part as well as the freedom of explanation on the audience’s part. When paired with a specific tune, there is less subjectivity and therefore less connection between the audience and dancer. The dancer is no longer restricted in their interpretation of the dance.

Though I and many other freshman dancers have initially found difficulty in relating to these “noises” from instruments, we have found an internal “noise” that beats at its own pace and is filled with the breath of a real life in real time. This invisible melody has revealed a deeper level of understanding and appreciation to my dance education. While it’s always exciting to move to the newest chart toppers, dancing to one’s internal rhythm truly exposes the beauty of dance and its connection between dancer, musician, and audience. Now as we enter the room and stand in preparation for the drilled warm-up, the first strike of the bongo becomes the entryway to the world of “me” and the world of my surrounding dancers.


-Jessie Farrigan

Freshman B.F.A.