Art and Aesthetics: One Soul to Another

Someone once said, “The opposite of art is not ugliness, it is indifference.” We can learn a lot from a word by studying its antonym. Why would the opposite of art be indifference? If someone is indifferent then they have no feelings one way or the other. They don’t care. Art is a medium for expression, and someone who is indifferent has nothing to express; art cannot be created. But what is art?

I believe that art is an expression of the human capacity to create something original that is appealing in a skillful, aesthetic, or emotional way. I am an artist, and my chosen medium is dance. Painters create art on canvas, singers create art with their voices, but I create art with the movement of my body.

My mom is a musician and I grew up to her playing classical piano pieces all day. This may be the reason I fell in love with the classical arts when I took the humanities general my first semester at college. Over the next three years, I collected quite a repertoire of classical music. Needless to say I was obsessed. The love for that style of music transferred into dance when I first started dancing right after my mission. I was taking social dance, and for some reason my friend also talked me into taking beginning ballet. A class with 30 girls and just myself sounded fun. But I’ll never forget the moment we went to the barre and I did my first plies. The music started and emotion swelled up within me as I started moving to music I already knew and loved. I think I audibly gasped out, “Mozart Piano Concerto Number 21! I love this song!”

As I continued to train in ballet I developed a love for the technique and the beauty of the dance. I turned to YouTube and would watch all the famous pas de deux’s over and over by different dance companies. I started to gain a small bias for dance that was all about rules, lines, and aesthetic shapes. More recently I have come to love modern dance for reasons deeper reasons than visual beauty.

Recently I saw a recording of a performance choreographed my modern dancer Martha Graham. In her piece Lamentation, the dancer moves within a tube of cloth through the duration of the piece. I will tell you though, that I am not a fan of this piece. Personally, I don’t like the movement or the music. But I will not turn a blind eye to the technique, the emotion, and the originality of the piece. Martha Graham herself told a story concerning the dance. She said, “One of the first times I did it … a lady came back to me afterwards with a very white face, and she’d obviously been crying, and she said, ‘You will never know what you’ve done for me tonight, thank you.’ And left. I asked about her later. It seemed that she had seen her 9-year-old son killed in front of her by a truck. They had made every effort to make her cry. And she was not able to cry, but when she saw Lamentation, she felt that grief was honorable, and that it was universal and that she need not be ashamed of crying for her son.” That is beautiful. It is beautiful in a way that classical ballet never can be. That is aesthetic to the soul. That is art. And it doesn’t matter that I may not like it; who am I to put it less than the Grande Pas de Deux from Don Quixote? I may (and am entitled to) feel that way but that in NO way makes Lamentation any less artistic or aesthetically powerful.

A person walking through the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC may see Number 1 by Jackson Pollock and say, “I could do that.” Whereupon the curator would say, “Yeah, but you didn’t.” That is the beauty of art. One of its many aspects is originality. Paul Taylor and his partner Toby Armour in the performance of Seven Dances at Kauffman Concert Hall in 1957 made a similar contemporary statement to that of Pollock when they merely stood on stage and stared at each other for their entire piece. The beauty behind this is that those dancers spent decades of their lives developing their bodies to move it in aesthetic and artistic ways, yet they just stood there. Anyone could have done that. But they didn’t.

I stated above that we could learn a lot from a word’s antonym. I got this idea from a speech that was given at BYU-Idaho. Matthew J. Geddes made this insightful connection in his lecture, “Aesthetics Vs. Anesthetics.” He said, “What does that word, aesthetic, mean? Often it is defined as the study of or the philosophy of beauty. This definition is not incorrect, but it is somewhat incomplete. It is not until we consider the opposite of the word aesthetic that a better understanding becomes apparent. And, by the way, its opposite is a word that most of us are much more familiar with. The opposite of aesthetic is anesthetic. Anyone who has ever been to the dentist understands what an anesthetic is, and what it does. In the context of a dentist’s office, an anesthetic is a beneficial thing. But, most of us have also had the misfortune of leaving the dentist’s office before the effects of the anesthesia have worn off. In that condition of being numb, if you are not very careful you can bite down and damage the inside of your mouth without feeling it; at least not right then. In that context, an anesthetic can be a frightful thing. It can put us in a state wherein we can repeatedly damage ourselves without feeling anything.” Once again, being indifferent in any way puts you in a place where nothing original or aesthetic can be fabricated.

Aesthetics and art go hand in hand. If art is the physical medium of expression then aesthetics is that conduit that makes that expression moving to us. Aesthetics is different for every individual. Art will always be art, and mankind’s originality and creativity will always continue to be stretched, but aesthetics will forever touch different people in different ways, and that is why it is so important. This is a truth that is so important because art can, and needs to speak to all of us through aesthetics, because art can touch the human soul in ways nothing else can.
After all, since art is expressed from the soul, and aesthetics carries that expression into another’s soul, this may be the one of the most sacred forms of communion we can enjoy as one human being to another.


Lyrical Hip Hop

I found this dance a few weeks ago soon after it was posted. Right away
I fell in love with the movement, and I just had to share it with you guys. There are a few different recordings of the dance in the related videos if you want to see it from different angles. I apologize for the excessive screaming in this recording, it makes it hard to hear the music. The song they dance to is a mix of four songs:
Bittersweet Symphony, instrumental -The Verve
Careless Whisper, instrumental – George Michael
Lean Back, Cover by Josh Vietti
Harder Better Faster Stronger, -Vitamin String Quartet

Enjoy the video, and tell me what you think

Let’s dance!

The LED Suit Dance

I saw this thing on facebook and shared it. Soon I saw it flying everywhere as friends and dance friends alike started sharing it as well. The idea of this is amazing. I cant imagine the hours of teching a dance like this would have to go through. There are a few mistakes if you watch closely enough. What do you think? Will we see more routines like this in the future?

Let’s dance!

Insanity on the streets of Paris

This guy is crazy. ’nuff said

Let’s dance!

SYTYCD Finale and Results show

I’ve been watching the show and was pleased by how the season turned out. However, when it came to the final few weeks, things dwindled. I have to say that Jess was cut far too early. He should have been in the final four instead of Tadd.

As for the Finale, it was a complete letdown. The disco was a disappointment, and the cha cha was a disaster. For the final week, I feel the dances where so so. I don’t think it is entirely the dancers fault. I know what it is like to dance day in and day out and the human body can only take so much. Maybe they were pushed past their limits.

I do have to offer my congratulations to Melanie for the win! She is a fantastic dancer and one of the most humble on the show this season. I was a fan of her since the statue dance in week one of the top 20. I wish her the best in her dancing career! Click here to see her solo from top 6 week. Nigel said it was probably the best solo they’ve ever seen on the show. I have to agree. It stands with Jeanine’s solo and Brandon’s solo from season 6 as a landmark in SYTYCD history.

Let’s dance!

A Dance for Japan

Shortly after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Genki Sudo and his dance crew released this song and accompanying choreography to show the world that despite the disasters in Japan, life goes on.

He writes in the description of the video,
“Many disasters are ongoing in Japan; earthquakes, Tsunami, and nuclear accidents. These unprecedented things may be able to change however from now. That’s why I expressed through World Order to convey some message to you on my own way…
Any accident is neutral. Although we are straying around this deep darkness, I believe we can get through anything when each of us can let go of our fear and face things positively.
The world won’t change on its own. We do change one by one. That makes the world change. The darkness just before the dawn is deepest. So, we do rise up together to greet the brilliant morning truly coming for the human beings.

-Genki Sudo

The video starts with some really simple movements. Keep watching! it gets better and better as the video goes on. The climax has some of the best crew tutting I’ve ever seen. You’ll have to watch some parts twice to see figure out how they do some of the choreography!

Let’s dance!

Matt Steffanina

My roommate randomly found this guy while looking up the song “Back Seat” by New Boyz. He’s a hip-hop dancer and he’s got some sick choreogrpahy to some hot songs.

I think his dance to Katy Perry’s ET is my favorite. I haven’t seen all his videos ( he has over 50!)

If you want to learn this dance you can watch his tutorial for it here.

This is his really fast dance to “Backseat”

You can go to his website at to learn more about him. Man I would love to go to one of his classes!

Here’s some more of his choreography:
Bass Down Low -DEV
Rock the Beat -LMFAO
Written In The Stars -Tinie Tempah
Coming Home -Diddy -Dirty Money

Top 20 on SYTYCD

Tonight the top 20 dancers performed for the first time in couples. I must say, I think this is the best top 20 we’ve ever had on the show. I really enjoyed the whole episode, and all the varieties of dance.

Some highlights:

Pirouette of the night goes to Jess in his Broadway routine with Clarise. He was almost on his knees then as he spun he raised himself up. I’m so practicing that one in the studio tomorrow.

Ryan and Ricky’s lyrical hip hop was very intriguing. I think we’re going to see great things from Chris Scott’s choreography.

The next thought goes to Nick and Iveta. They had the dreaded quickstep. I knew it wouldn’t be a problem for Iveta, and I was scared for Nick, because I’ve been learning a quickstep routine for a performance coming up, and it is HARD! Intense footwork all while keeping a perfect frame on top is so daunting. But nick is a tapper! He nailed the footwork held his frame fine. He just needed to put his fingers together and their connection could have been a little closer in that closed position. But overall, I was very impressed with the both of them.

I’ve saved the best for last. Contemporary dancers Melanie and Marko danced a Travis Wall routine. It was about two statues that come alive at night and want to come closer to each other before morning comes again. I was in complete awe. The music was spectacular, and the dancing phenomenal. Neither dancer outshone the other, and each had amazing control of their bodies. This dance had my vote through and through. There are usually one or two routines a season that just take my breath away, and I wasn’t expecting one so early on. I hope there are many more to come this season!

Here they are (the dance starts at 1:38):

Let’s Dance!

The Dying Swan

In the 1880’s, the composer Camille Saint Saens wrote a piece called “The Carnival of the Animals, an orchestration that has lots of short movements dedicated to various animals. The final movement before the finale is called The Swan. It’s a beautiful piece, and though it was not written as a ballet, it wasn’t long before a choreographer named Mikhail Fokine choreographed a solo for a ballerina by the name of Anna Pavlova. They called it The Dying Swan, and she would go on to perform the piece over 4,000 times in her lifetime. The dance is based off idea of Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake, and her choreography has influenced much of the swan style for the Swan Lake of today.

Here is a video of Maya Plisetskaya performing the piece in 1975. So beautiful!

Now. This is why I love dance. I found this next video through a related window on YouTube. It’s an audition for the Brazil version of So You Think You Can Dance. It’s a modern, more hip hop-like interpretation of the piece. This is John Lennon da Silva doing his original portrayal of the Dying Swan:

I had to throw this last one in there. This is Lil Buck dancing to a single cello accompaniment to the same song by Yo Yo Ma. He does more crazy stuff than John Silva did, but John’s was first and the most original.

Which is your favorite?

Let’s dance!

Every day I’m Shufflin

So I’ve caught the bug. It’s got in my bones. I’ve been obsessed with this song all weekend.

Let me tell you, it’s really addicting. The move at 5:41 is awesome but so hard to do that fast! I’m working on it though. Oh, and did you notice in the background Hawk from Quest dance crew? The one that was on MTV’s ABDC? I love the whole idea behind this video! Looks like dancing music videos are making a comeback!

Let’s dance!