More Thoughts on Martial Arts as Dance

Here is the latest promo for my upcoming San Francisco Bay Area workshops Circus Daoyin and Dance as Self-Defense:  

Check it out my new and improved descriptions!

Because we are social animals, we tend to mistake the social activity of fighting with the self-defense mode of embodying our inner predator.  

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Self-Defense Dance Styles

 A few hundred years ago, martial arts may have had a self-defense component and it may be recoverable.  But few martial arts classes teach self-defense directly.  Dance can solve this problem.

Self-defense involves situational awareness, scenario training, practice overcoming social-emotional barriers, verbal articulation skills, applying legal knowledge; and context specific movement skills for escaping, scaling force, and neutralizing a threat.

Here is my list of people who teach that: Marc MacYoung, Rory Miller, S.P.E.A.R, IMPACT, and especially check out Protective Offense. There are probably lots of individual martial arts schools that emphasize self-defense as a moral position, but unless they are teaching all the skills I listed above I wouldn't put them on such a list.  (Please feel free to add to the list in the comments below.)

Martial arts as we know them today, did not develop to teach self-defense, certainly not women's self-defense.  I enjoy trying to re-discover and invent self-defense in traditional martial arts.  However, if we want people to develop self-defense skills, martial arts are not the obvious choice.  Martial arts are often a poor choice because they condition complexity. Self-defense should also represent a break from the long training curves of most martial arts classes--self-defense should unleash people from hierarchies of learning and empower them immediately.  

"If he gives you any trouble, Waltz him out the door."  

If the problem is that men or women have been socialized to be nice (or compliant and caring), then the solution is to socialize them to be violent.  The best way to do this is with what I call the "I'm playing" hormones.  The "I'm playing" hormones feel familiar to almost everyone, people say to themselves, "I feel like a kid again!"  

One of the more common forms of violence people encounter is a social situation with a very badly behaved drunk, horny, or angry dominant partner or family member.  It turns out that statistics on domestic abuse are gender equal, just as many men beat women as women beat men (I had heard this from Marc MacYoung, but it was recently verified in a conversation I had at a party with a social worker who works with domestic violence advocacy state-wide in Colorado.)

There are two skill sets that were well known in the 19th century for dealing with this type of violence in many parts of the world:  1)  Improvisational theater, and  2)  social dances like the Waltz and the Samba.  

Good theater skills will teach one how to change the scripts and the social dynamics.

Learning to dance with the assumption that some of the people you dance with are going to be dangerous a--holes, will quickly enable the development of these skills:


  1. breaking holds
  2. striking vulnerable areas with whole body momentum
  3. taking control of momentum for making an escape 
  4. breaking the freeze 
  5. injuring and escaping from a threat who attacks from behind  


There are problems with dance "classes."  Social-dance classes are often about courting, feeling awkward or "doing it right,"  none of which are helpful for self-defense.  But the original movements of these dances were designed from the beginning for self-defense so the only thing that has to change is the intention.  The methods don't need modification the way they do in martial arts, because these historic dances all developed from martial games, they are already designed for self-defense. Just take out the modern inhibitions and add intent.  

Waltz his face into the wall.  Fun.

Two hundred years ago in Europe, if a person wanted martial skills he or she went to a dance master--who also taught etiquette.

The other half of self-defense is improvisational theater; developing, changing, taking control of, breaking, dropping, and re-writing social scripts on the spot.  One version of this I call "meet the Buddha," and involves a lot of personal insults and complements.  I then progress to slapping games, my goal is to make slapping joyful again.  

I got a chance to work with this material during the workshops I taught in Portland, in the UK, and in Amsterdam--and it was awesome.  Video in the works.  

Pandit Chitresh Das, dies at 70

It is with great sorrow that I announce the passing of one of my mentors Pandit Chitresh Das.  I got the news last night just before bed.  I dreamt that I was teaching a large class of children when I got the news.  I stopped class to tell them what a great improviser he was, and what an amazing teacher, and how he taught me and so many others new ways of seeing, hearing and feeling.  Then I started teaching the students how to pick flowers, in the Kathak mode, in rhythm, as a man, as a woman, and as a wild man.  

When I woke up, my whole body was full of rhythm.  Laying there in bed, complex rhythmic patterns were coming out of me, from me, and from beyond.  New ones and old ones I hadn't felt in a long time, like emotions spilling over.  

I started studying with Chitreshji when I was 20.  I traveled to India when I was 26 and met up with him there.  He was a child prodigy known throughout India but because of political favoritism in the Guru system he felt under appreciated and when modern dancer Murray Louis offered him a chance to come to America and teach he took it.  For twenty years he didn't return.  He moved to California where he worked intimately with Zakir Hussain and Ali Akbar Khan to innovate new forms of rhythmic mastery.  When I was with him in Kolkata (Calcutta) he was mending fences and building new relationships after 20 years, it was intensely emotional and profoundly gratifying.  He introduced me to a lot of people but sent me alone to visit his Guru brother Bachan Lal Mishra, who was practically in tears after he saw me dance in his tiny studio in a dilapidated building.  He said this was the true martial spirit of the original Kathak, that Chitreshji had kept it alive.  The walls of his studio were covered in pictures of boxers, his inspiration.  

Kathak is an intimate performance the dancer should be close enough to see the audiences expressions, and it is best done on a marble floor to bring out the full range of sounds the feet can make. 

Kathak, North Indian Classical Dance, has changed a lot with time. A hundred years ago it was an intimate style that took on the qualities of an improvised duel between the drummer (tabla player) and the dancer. My teacher was a consummate improviser.  In our first class he channelled the harsh nuns he had known attending Catholic Schools in India, Rambo with a machine gun, and pop star Michael Jackson.  All of this within the strict rhythmic structures of Indian Classical music.  If you’ve never seen Kathak, it is sort of like tap-dance and flamenco done in bare feet and with five pounds of bells wrapped around each ankle.  Das explained that Kathak was developed around Rajput warriors and then moved into the Mughal Courts of Lucknow and as the Mughals fell from power many dancers fell into the role of courtesans. With the rise of Indian nationalism, dance played a role as a marker of Indian pride and identity.  Chitreshji's father and mother were dancers at the center of this revival and Chitreshji grew up in a home that was a major stopping off point for all the great dancers of Indian, most of them probably performed in his living room.  

Martial arts were not taught explicitly, and Chitresh Das was not a fighter, but if you’ve ever tried dueling with blades you know that rhythmic footwork with speed and power is a handy thing to have.  Kathak also has body technique that can be used as chops, sweeps and elbow strikes, joint locks, and drop steps, lots of drop steps.  The bells worn for Kathak are bronze strung tightly together with open facets.  From a martial point of view they were armor for the ankles designed to catch blades and weights for developing speed and power.  In the historic epic the Mahabharata the thunderous sound of thousands of men stamping their feet with ankle bells struck terror in their enemies hearts. 

I saw Chitreshji perform countless times, but the improvisations he would bust out in class when we were completely exhausted were always the best.  As a teacher he put his entire being into it. In a sense he is always right there with me when I teach, he taught me how to be intensely responsive and aware of every sound and movement my students make; precision and nurturing, compassion and fury.  

He wanted to give us students a sense of what it was like to study with his Guru, Pandit Ram Narayan Mishra, so we all went up to a YMCA camp on the Gualala river in Northern California for a retreat.  During the four days we were there I never saw the river because we were dancing the entire time.  We woke before dawn put on our clothes and our bells and started dancing, we ate lamb shank curry for breakfast, which lasted just long enough to eat and take a five minute shower, then we were dancing again until lunch. Lunch was even shorter and we were dancing again, in the late afternoon and evening we did more theatrical movement, singing and reciting in addition to more dancing.  Dinners were a blur and with the last shower of the evening came the risk of falling asleep while standing up. In the morning we did it again, for four days. By the end, all that was left of me was a steady vibration, and feet, the bottoms of which looked like raw hamburger.  

Probably the best performance I ever saw him give was actually a rehersal.  We were staying in the flat of a Calcutta painter friend of his, I remember she had a pet monkey who was completely out of control jumping and swinging about the room.  When Chitreshji was performing a solo he didn't like to rehearse because Kathak is about spontaneity, but also because it is a symbolic duel between the tabla player and the dancer, and duels are not rehearsed.  For about four years I was studying with both Chitreshji and Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri (a great tabla player).  When they were scheduled to perform together, both of their students would try to get them to rehearse, with increasing desperation as the event got closer.  Each of them would say things like, "Okay, if he needs to rehearse we can rehearse, ask him if he needs to rehearse?"  Students were sent back and forth with messages, "Tell him I don't need to rehearse, would it be helpful for him?" Sometimes they would talk on the phone I guess.  Anyway we were in Calcutta and Chitreshji was scheduled to perform with what he called a "red hot chilli pepper," that is, a young very fast tabla player, in this case Bickram Ghosh, son of Pandit Shankar Ghosh.  So he consented to a rehearsal.  It lasted about an hour, I sat at his feet while the two of them went through compositions at top speed, often only doing a half or a third of the composition and then saying something like, "Okay, and so on."  This is the thing about Kathak, it is an insider art.  To really see, feel and hear it, one has to have a lot of training.  When they were stopping a composition a third of the way through I was left hanging on a quarter of a beat.  The confidence they had that these complex rhythmic cycles would come out mathematically perfect was itself on show.  

In recent years, Chitresh Das has had enormous success, the father ten schools in India, America and Canada.  His collaborations and innovations are being felt far and wide.

This last week I sent off the abstract for a paper I'm going to deliver in England at Cardiff University in June titled, Shaking Thunder Hands:  Where Martial and Performing Arts Meet in India and China.  It examines evidence that North Indian Classical Dance (Kathak) and Chen style taijiquan share common movement concepts, theatrical representations, and forms of heightened awareness associated with martial enlightenment.  

I've been working on my book everyday too, and my tabla drums are on the same table with my computer.  That's how I've been writing, back and forth between the drum and the key board.  So Chitreshji has been on my mind, visiting me everyday. And by some strange coincidence, I made lamb shank curry yesterday! It has been 20 years since I danced with him.  Still, his memory, his brilliance and his spirit live on in my work.  I am forever grateful to have had him as a mentor.  

Thank you Dadaji.

Chitresh Das, demanding more from his students! With love.

Sex is Dangerous

Historically, in English speaking countries anyway, there has been a gradual covering over of the idea that sex is dangerous.  Thus, most readers are probably unaware that 8 out of 10 mating dances also happen to be martial arts.  Nearly all mating dances were developed by people who had to deal with levels of violence that are frankly unimaginable for most people today. 

I first heard the idea that sex is dangerous expressed in an essay by Pat Califia* in about 1992. The essay was in the form of a photocopy that a friend handed to me, this was one of the ways people used to spread ideas before the internet. In the essay Pat Califia methodically went over all the ways sex has been dangerous from STD's to Romeo and Juliet.  

Historically sex has been dangerous in nearly every culture, but that hasn’t stopped most people from trying it, and at times (to understate the case) enjoying it.  (Since I am a contrarian, even to myself, readers may find this essay interesting as a counter point, “It’s Only a Penis.”)

One of the most brilliant and culturally transcendent ideas invented to make sex a little safer is the mating dance.  Saying that mating dances are an idea is somewhat problematic in that a great many animals do them too, peacocks come quickly to mind.  But humans have certainly attached all manner of rituals, protocols, visions, designs and ancillary purposes to the “idea” of learning and performing mating dances.   

People are often reluctant to communicate verbally about their sexual needs.  Speaking broadly across cultural realms, the range of what is considered sexual communication is mind bogglingly diverse.  What is thought of as sacred and what is taboo, what is ideal, and what is frightening, are literally all over the map.  

Dances have historically and evolutionarily played an important role in courting.  Dances were used to help teach adolescents how to behave around the opposite sex and how to communicate.  Men have a tendency to fight over women, and women often pick their mates base on the outcomes of these violent performances.  Women also compete over men, although they come to blows less often.

There is also a historic developmental link between mating dances and competitive dances that display martial prowess in front of a king.  This happened because part of the purpose of these dances was to honor the king and so when communities wanted to honor a woman coming of age they would do similar dances for them.  

We could go deeper into the many cultural purposes of mating dances, there is an enormous literature in socio-cultural anthropology to that effect.  But our subject is martial arts.  

Mating dances usually teach elements of competitive social violence and asocial violence.  Even rather stately mating dances like the Waltz teach one a lot about taking control of centrical momentum, which is one of the master keys for reversing the odds in a surprise attack.  Today when most people think of the waltz they are imagining staged prudery and pomp, that is not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about the Waltz as a folk art. I’m talking about spinning around and around for hours on end by the light of the moon on ever increasing amounts of alcohol, and then stumbling home in the dark.

Italian country dance is a great example of a martial art hidden inside of a social dance.  A great many of the Italian country dances are knife fighting games.  We can find similar examples in countless other cultures.

Many mating dances have extraordinary footwork which is directly transferable to weapons fighting, as well as drop steps for power generation.  Many mating dances have well developed elbow strikes, or hands raised to keep the spray of blood out of ones eyes.  

Nearly all mating dances were developed by people who had to deal with levels of violence that are frankly unimaginable for most people today.  These dances teach people to fight in the thrall of the heart fluttering hormones of sexual passion, fear, and other mind altering conditions.  As practical martial arts they are far more realistic than most “traditional” or “pure” martial arts when it comes to understanding how social violence happens and how asocial predators attack.  

Samba is a mating dance from Brazil that has it all.  It has superb defenses for attacks from behind, awesome footwork, fantastic body slam combinations, elbow strikes in all directions, vital target evasion, tripping, head attacks, and brilliant escapes. 

Watch this whole video but especially check out the guy in blue pants at the 4:03 minute mark.  Now imagine having someone attack you from behind and responding with that movement.

The inspiration for this post came from the fact that I was roped into teaching a dance class based on the song ‘What Does the Fox Say?’  After watching the videos and listing to the music for a few minutes I realized it was a Samba, so I went in and taught Samba to the kids.  I had extraordinarily good training in Samba from an important dance teacher of mine named Alicia Pierce.  Teaching the class to kids got me exploring Samba as a martial art and I was blown away by how effective it is.

No dance is usable as a martial art unless one conditions responses in a martial way.  That takes some time, but not more than about 40 hours.  The dance itself takes a lot longer to learn. Samba is a highly functional and practical self-defense system, but it has to be re-focused to that purpose.

A key concept in self-defense is the idea that when we encounter asocial violence it is usually a surprise and a new experience which causes us to freeze.  So one of the most important skills to develop is breaking the freeze.  The current convention is to teach students to do a single action like shouting or moving, or a single structurally solid martial technique like the S.P.E.A.R. or Dracula’s Cape.  And because under extreme stress we might freeze again or deceive ourselves by imaging we just moved when in fact we were still frozen, we want to condition ourselves to do the same action twice, or to do two structurally related actions one after the other.

But I’ve been doing some experiments and I’m nearly convinced that busting out a sudden dance pattern is a better way to break the freeze than the standard counter assault stances.  If you have mastered a fast dance pattern which was designed to deal with an attack from behind, I suspect that is a superior way to break the freeze and neutralize the threat.  

The term for the basic dance step in Samba is called ginga, which is the same name for the basic stepping pattern used in Capoeira, even thought these are technically different steps.  The term probably referred to the action of a sweep-oar moving back and forth propelling a boat forward from the stern of a river boat, but in practice ginga means something much more profound.  It means to have mojo, to have cashé, to have hidden power.  It means to have a twisted-up disambiguated poly-rythmic body.  It means being in more than one place at the same time.  It is a feeling.  It is a performance of other worldly access.  

A friend of mine ran a theater program in a Brazillian barrio.  One of his comments has stuck with me.  He said Brazilian kids don't wear clothes like other kids, they move their bodies around inside of them.  

I was recently watching a bunch of Lindy-Hop dancers, and they all had great technical skill, some of it quite impressive to watch.  But it just looked wrong to me, they didn’t have swingSwing is a word like ginga that refers to the African traditions of tricknology.  Lindy-hop was one of the first cross-over dances, one of the first African-American dances that White people started doing.  But despite being ‘good’ dancers, more often than not, they didn’t get it.  That is the origin of the jazz standard, ‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!”

Take it away Ella:


Here is a link to the Lindy-Hop, it is a 15 minutes video and there are some great moves by many of the performing couples, but only the first couple has some swing.  Can you see it?

So back to martial arts. Awesome mating dances have that swing feeling, or ginga or whatever they call it locally.  It is the juice a person needs to make their dance into a martial art.  It isn’t a rhythmic pattern or a dance combination, it is a feeling of otherworldly connection, a type of access, an ability to come un-hinged.  

It is also one of the sexiest things in the world. 

 *Pat Califia used to be a woman but she has now swung over to being a man.

Head is Spinning!

After you watch the video, check this guy's channel there's all kinds of crazy hip hop on the international scene.  The influence of African dance and music on the world stage is profound.  As martial artists we should at least consider that this evolved from a form of head and neck conditioning used for head attacks.  We might even speculate that if the event of being killed, or defeated in a duel, by a head attack had particular significance socially--perhaps causing a loss of status, rank, or inclusion in a group-- or even changed ones status after death, then perhaps the spectacle of spinning on the head was an extraordinary display of martial prowess.  In the book Fighting For Honor, which I reviewed a few days ago, the author Obi explains that in certain parts of Zaire-Angola the religious cosmology posits that the ancestors live on the other side of a great body of water and that everything there happens upside down, and so those ritual specialists capable of communicating with the ancestors do that by dancing upside down.  Wow! Take it away Aichi, Boom and Lazer!

Is Ballet a Chinese Martial Art?

Is Ballet a Chinese Martial Art?

While such a question may strike some as the outer edge of reasonable scholarship;  the facts, when ordered properly and examined thoroughly, speak for themselves.

First of all let’s acknowledge that ballet is Europe’s only classical movement art.  India has at least six classical movement arts, Indonesia has more, China has over a hundred.
Ballet today is taught to millions of screaming little girls in pink tights.  But a couple of hundred years ago it was a man’s art.  When Euro-centric scholars have examined the origins of ballet they have looked principally at two sources, folk dance and fight training.

Folk dances are generally divided into the somewhat arbitrary categories of classic, pre-classic, festival, mating, and court dances.  There is no doubt that ballet choreography is deeply rooted in the movement patterns of for instance the pre-classic pavan, the court minuet, and that graceful mating dance, the waltz.  But none of these popular culture dances give us any clue as to why the serious study of technical and virtuosic skill characteristic of ballet developed.

Louis XIV in Lully's Ballet de la nuit (1653). Louis XIV in Lully's Ballet de la nuit (1653).

Scholars generally point to court dances as the origin of all this serious fuss because nearly all the kings and queens and their aristocratic entourages from Spain to England to Russia were getting together for diplomatic shin-digs and princess exchanges.  They knew each other and they knew the same dances.  So it has been argued that there was a need for a common language of entertainment, and perhaps a common language for male suitors to demonstrate their masculine prowess.

All this is quite possible, but let’s leave it aside for the moment and look at the origins of martial ballet technique.

The European gentry was obsessed with dueling.  I’ve written about this elsewhere but suffice it to say, knowing how to fence by the strict rules of chivalry was part of the definition of the aristocracy.  Fencing schools and tutors were all the rage.  The basic positions of ballet children learn today, first, second, third, forth, and fifth position, come from fencing, as does the general aesthetic of turned out legs.

Then there is the art of tripping.  The basic footwork of ballet has at least some origins in tripping skills.  Ballet students do endless demi-plies with the arm in forward, side or back position while the toe rotates around on the floor in a large arc with extraordinary force integrated with the fast kicking action of coup-de-pied.  Ballet dancers know how to trip.

 Interior of the Royal Chinese Theatre in San Francisco during a performance in the 19th century. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS Interior of the Royal Chinese Theatre in San Francisco during a performance in the 19th century. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Another argument about the movements of ballet goes that they have roots in the aristocracies endless formal presentation movements and bows.  Know doubt this is true, imagine a lord with his arms held open wide to the sides holding in each hand an eligible maiden trailing a long dress.  We’ve all scene this in the movies.  And it’s true, the nobles of Europe were obsessed with “presentations.”  In fact there is a form of martial presentation which is also given as an origin of ballet.  I speak of course of the horse pageant.  This parade of power and status spurred an industry of riding schools which taught people how to show off on a horse.  You can still watch this on youtube. Riders doing pirouettes standing up on the back of their horse.  It seems fun and silly today, but it was martial in those days.  Remember the war horse was both the tank and the fighter jet of the 1600’s.

Yes, OK, you say, ballet has some rambo-tough aristocratic roots, but where does China fit in?
To answer this question we have to consider how they were thinking about China back then.  Besides silverware, the two finest things you could own in the 1600’s were blue and white ceramics and silk clothing from China.  When you got together with other lords and ladies, what did you do? Why you showed off your China gear, that’s what.  These items were known as luxuries.  The word luxury has come to mean anything expensive, but in those days it referred to the exclusive possessions of the aristocracy.  If you were a wealthy merchant you were expected to wear course wool and rough linen.  If you wore silk it was a sin.  If you were a successful artisan and drank tea, another luxury, from a Chinese cup, that was a sin too.  As global trade increased the aristocracies all over Europe were trying to find ways to visually and viscerally demonstrate their exclusivity and superiority.  The more trade increased, the more prices fell, and the more prices fell the more opportunities there were for commoners to get rich.  Extortion, the main source of income for the aristocracy, just wasn’t enough to keep the aristocracy on top any more.  They became desperate for distinction.

Marco Polo’s account of China was like one of the only books.  I know this sounds outrageous but in 1500, before the enlightenment, there just wasn’t much to read.  Everyone knew about Marco Polo.  Then in 1500 when Jesuit priest Mateo Ricci went to China, followed shortly by a string of both Franciscan and Jesuit priests, interest in everything Chinese exploded.  They don’t teach it in schools but the enlightenment debate about the possibility that virtue existed outside of Christianity was started by translations of Confucius.  After all, if Confucius was talking persuasively about the importance of virtue before Jesus was, could he really have gone to hell?

gentilityI don’t know that anyone was taking dictation at parties back then, but imagine the questions you would be asked by members of the aristocracy if you were a priest or a trader returning from a recent trip to China.  “So what do the Chinese upper classes do for fun?”  “What distinguishes an Chinese gentleman from the common rabble?”  You would have, of course, told them about the Ming Dynasty “Scholar’s Cities,” that is, the theater districts just outside city walls that scholars young and old flocked too.  “And what sorts of spectacles did they see?”  “They saw actors and singers all of whom were trained from childhood in an extraordinary form of physical dance theater.  A form of physical dance theater, you add, that demonstrated incredible feats of martial prowess.    These ‘dancers’ were cast in history plays where they played great lords and ladies of the past, as well as warlords and youthful heros!  Sometimes the fight scenes of these plays were the main attraction!”
“Chinese scholars were obsessed with these arts, in their spare time they were amateur actors and dancers.  They would spend long hours singing snippets of their favorite history plays into the night with close friends and bowls of wine.  Although a Chinese gentleman would never take money for a performance, it was quite common for them to formally employ a famous actor to tutor them in the arts of singing and martial arts.”

The lords and ladies of Europe invented ballet training as another much needed way to distiguish themselves from commoners.  They modeled it on accounts of Chinese martial arts.

I’m not suggesting that there are any direct physical links between ballet training and Chinese martial arts, but it seems quite likely that the idea of Chinese martial arts was in fact the impetus that got ballet off the ground.

---I originally intended this as a parody.  I wanted to make fun of the irrational fear many martial artists have of the entertainment roots of their arts.  But it says something unnerving about how deep I am in my own well of ideas that I think I just convinced myself of the likelihood of my own conjecture.

I welcome all challenges, serious and otherwise.

Winning Links

Two quick links for your enjoyment.

The League of Extraordinary Dancers is a hot new series.  Younger men may not realize just how revolutionary this is, but in my day dance wasn't very cool for men.  It has been a long fight to bring great male dancers up to the superhero status they deserve, but I think we are winning.

Some people in the U.S. Military seem to really understand the role the military has in shaping all of American society, and they are taking acupuncture very seriously.  This is going to be great for business!

Finally Ballet is Being Replaced by Kungfu

Ballet has had a dominant role in American and European stage dance for a century because it has been the "thing to do" for 5 year old girls. That has meant that ballet dancers were simply the best trained professional dancers. Unfortunately the chivalrous dainty movements of ballet are mostly terrible for telling stories in the crazy modern world. That has contributed to dance performance often being viewed as the boring fantacies of little girls and gay men. While the 20th century saw the invention of numerous "modern" dance techniques, the sometimes lacking skill of "Modern" dancers and the relentless influence of ballet has kept people from seeing dance.

While there is no doubt that popular dance has flourished through music videos, the last 20 years has also seen the growth of classical and lineage ethnic dance techniques as the basis for telling stories. These are starting to replace ballet in the world of dance performance. Kungfu, Capoeira, Indian Dance, African dance, Indonesian Dance, and circus arts are just some of the in depth movement forms that are replacing ballet. (Please put some of your little girls in kungfu classes, anything but ballet.)

This performance uses Shaolin:

Celebrated Flemish/Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui presents a brand new dance work inspired by the skill, strength and spirituality of Buddhist Shaolin monks. He has collaborated closely with Turner Prize-winning artist Antony Gormley, who has created a design consisting of 21 wooden boxes which are repositioned to create a striking, ever changing on-stage environment. Polish composer Szymon Brzóska has created a beautiful brand new score for piano, percussion and strings which is played live.

hat tip: Daniel Mroz