500 words on mind/body equality

“What have you been doing all day?” asked my brother.

I replied “researching for my essay.”

“What!? You have to write an essay? I thought all you did was dance.” he said.

I don’t know what angers me more, the fact that it was my brother’s incredulous tone, or that all he thinks I do is just bounce around all day, staring at myself in the mirror and ultimately not using my brain… probably a combination of both. In fact, my brother’s exclamation plays very nicely into the focus of my first degree essay: Cartesian Dualism and how the body isn’t just a passive tool for the dancer to use (the question title is still a work in process, but it will be somewhere along the lines of that).

I really connect with somatic principles and the unity between the mind and body, and I think that this notion of dualism- where the concept that the mind and body are considered as two distinct, yet separate entities is something that I could quite happily talk, read and argue about forever. I think this is why I feel really motivated to write my essay about it, and this blog post as a little extra. This extends also to the stereotypes surrounding the arts, and whether it is classed as a ‘proper subject’. The government have even proposed removing the arts in its entirety from state education (note my own incredulous tone now) and other such nonsense that doesn’t even need mentioning, let alone seriously considering in parliament.

When I finished sixth form, people would ask me what I was doing next year- expecting me to follow in my mother’s footsteps and say, oh history at university, or English literature, or even an art foundation at a push. I think they thought that dance was just a nice little hobby that I did on the side to flesh out my personal statement and to keep fit, and not something that I wanted to pursue seriously. Yes, this is beginning to turn into a bit of a rant… I’m sorry, the last thing I want to do is rant. I just fail to understand why people can’t see the arts as a serious career path.

I love dancing, but this does not necessarily mean that it is relegated to just thoughtless physical motion. Your mind and body are inextricably linked. If you do not understand both physically and mentally something then how can you expect to improve? The theory of dance, study and research of dance is just as vital as technique and performance. Both have equal weight, much like your mind and body are equally vital for survival.

And in that I feel I have come to a sort of natural conclusion to this post. Sadly,  I haven’t proposed any life changing solutions, but awareness is the first step. I promptly told off my brother, and briefed my family on the truths of my degree, and will continue to do so to everybody who criticises (even subtly) my subject of study. A dance degree is not just dancing, and the mind is not more important than the body, period.

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