Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: growth of dance in America
Carter, Curtis L.
Dance literacy: [intelligence and sensibility in the dance], pp. 210- PDF (10.6 MB)
by Curtis L. Carter A Professor of Philosophy and Chairman of the University Committee on the Fine Arts at Marquette University, he is deeply involved in the dance field as a writer and critic. Cur- rently he is a member of the National Execu- tive Committee of the American Dance Guild, and serves as Chairman of the Wisconsin Dance Council. I. At present a conceptual plague besets at all levels the understanding of dance as an art form. It is grounded in a misguided separa- tion of sensibility from intelligence. Sensibility includes physical motor impulses and action and the feelings these are intended to express; intelligence refers to notions of formal structure, analysis, interpretation of meaning, and reasoning that lead to theoreti- cal studies of dance. According to those dancers, writers, and educators who separate sensibility from intelligence, dance is an art of sensibility. The choreographing of dances, their performance, and their perception by viewers consist, accordingly, of physical- emotive processes in which the intellectual factors that generate aesthetics, philosophy, and theory can be neglected without signifi- cant loss. This one-sided approach surrounds dance with an unfortunate aura of anti- 210 intellectualism, and dance suffers correspond- ingly as those genuinely interested in the arts are led to regard dance as inferior in kind and in significance to art forms whose intellectual components are not so neglected. Dance is thus regarded as unworthy to be given space in the cultural pantheon occupied by such universally recognized art forms as poetry, music, and painting. The image problem for dance is not new. Crato, a character in the Greek satirist Lucian's dialogue on dance, mouths the skeptical view: Who that is a man at all, a lifelong friend of letters, moreover conversant with philos- ophy, abandons his interest, Lycinus, in all that is better . . . to sit enthralled by the flute, watching a girlish fellow play the wanton with dainty clothing and bawdy songs and imitate love-sick minxes, the most erotic of all antiquity . .. a ridiculous business in all truth . . For more complex philosophical reasons Hegel, writing in the nineteenth century, excludes dance by name from the list of "essential" arts (architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and poetry);-he relegates it, in fact, to the category of imperfect arts, along with such other genteel forms of human leis-