Why Dance Matters (or at least why it mattered at 8pm last Thursday night)


I've been doing a whole lot of stalling this week on giving my two cents for the Why Dance Matters campaign.  The lovely Nichelle over at Dance Advantage launched this initiative a few years ago and I love it for both its simplicity and its impact.


The task is simple…

To write, blog, pin, tweet:


Why does dance matter?


It's not that I don't think dance matters, obviously, but my thoughts have been so pre-occupied of late by the economics of dance that I sometimes question whether it matters enough.


And then I happened to be running the light board for Columbia College's annual Dance/Movement Therapy concert.  While much of the evening consisted of the emo-lyrical dance and metaphors of healing that I would expect out of a concert put on by dance/movement therapists to-be, there was also this:


A joyful young man and his (assumed) counselor, both dressed in Keshet t-shirts and jeans, sat in chairs far downstage and quite literally rocked out a chair dance to the Glee cover of Queen's "Somebody to Love".  Here's the original to accompany your reading of the rest of this post…



The dance was simple but not sympathetic.  It was rehearsed, exuberant, and completely stole the show.  I realized the impact that dance had and was having on this young man's life, and the joy with which he performed was super contagious.  


And in that moment, as tears puddled in my eyes, dance mattered.


It TOTALLY mattered.




Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a freelance dance critic, contributing to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Magazine. She is senior editor of See Chicago Dance. Lauren covers dance across the Midwest and writes regularly for Dance Magazine and Pointe with additional bylines in Milwaukee Magazine, St. Louis Magazine and Dance Teacher. Forthcoming publications include essays on ballet training in Chicago (University of Illinois Press) and Shirley Mordine (University of Akron Press). In 2020, Lauren published an opinion piece on the impact of COVID-19 on the arts in the South African journal Agenda. Lauren holds degrees in dance and kinesiology and has presented research on dance training practices at the National Dance Education Organization and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. She has co-facilitated critical dance writing intensives in Chicago and Durban, South Africa, and participated in writing residencies at the National Center for Choreography, Bates Dance Festival and JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. Lauren teaches dance history and kinesiology for dancers, with part-time appointments at Loyola University Chicago and Illinois Wesleyan University.