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From an audience perspective, dance as an art form may seem to exist only as live performance – time-bound and ephemeral – effectively disappearing at the conclusion of a particular event.

However, when human beings dance together, they connect through co-created moments of physical expression. Each of these moments may generate an array of interpersonal reactions – excitement, inhibition, empathy, etc. – which then shift the ways in which participants relate with one another from that point forward.

Paradoxically, these changes lend a sense of longevity to the experience of dance. Once engaged in movement, the group enters a state of continuous communal transformation, from first rehearsal to final performance – and beyond, as those who share an embodied artistic experience will likely interact with one another differently from that point forward.

In this way, the notion of permanence with respect to public art as it may pertain to dance suggests a process of ongoing group practice – regular engagements and explorations of movement over time. Thus, dance may be installed within a public sphere, much as a sculpture might be installed within a physical space.

This conception of dance as public art also suggests a practice that is open and free to all community members, as opposed to being exclusively the province for trained dancers. The wider public must be encouraged and welcomed to participate in their preferred capacity at any given juncture, as either performers or witnesses, with the understanding that both roles carry equal value.

Dance as public art recognizes and celebrates the primacy of our relational existence to one another. As municipalities commit resources to an ongoing, open practice of dance, they make an enduring investment in the innate creativity and compassion of their people, the wellbeing and resilience of their communities, and the democratization of artistic expression.

Copyright 2021 Alana Rancourt Phinney

Belief Statement: Get Involved
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