I write this from Evergreen, Colorado. We just had a great weekend, flying out our drummer, Nick Hirka and Brian’s nephew, Paul Russell, who is our fiddle-mandolin-twelve-string-acoustic player. Joined by our good friend, Karen Savarese of Aurora, Colorado who played flute, wooden flute, recorder and pennywhistle, we were indeed a “five piece band, 1200 miles west of Chicago.”
We had several dance shows this weekend with the band, and what struck me is that a lot of people these days don’t dance. I don’t quite understand the reluctance to dance, especially to good music. But little did I know that dancing might be a sign that one is a highly evolved human being.
Yes, highly evolved. Live Science, an online publication mentioned in it s March 22, 2010 edition that: The answer to why we dance – and even why some people are better dancers than others – can be found in evolution. A study published in the Public Library of Science’s genetics journal in 2006 suggested that long ago the ability to dance was actually connected to the ability to survive. According to the study, dancing was a way for our prehistoric ancestors to bond and communicate, particularly during tough times. As a result, scientists believe that early humans who were coordinated and rhythmic could have had an evolutionary advantage.
So those who can get up and dance, freely express themselves are more inclined to out-Darwin the non-dancers. And obviously dancing does have health benefits that include the boosting of mental well being.
CNN reported a study from Australia that showed that music (i.e., things like a Switchback show) and dancing usually result in happiness. The article from March 31, 2017 stated: Researchers at Deakin University in Victoria analyzed 1,000 interviews with randomly chosen Australian citizens to see if there was a connection between their self-reported music consumption and happiness levels.
Sure enough, they found that people who actively engaged with music through dancing and attending events like concerts and musicals reported a higher level of subjective wellbeing (a more scientific way of saying "happiness”.
Hmmm, highly evolved? Happy?
We played a festival in Northglenn, Colorado and I noticed that aside from a few (and obviously highly evolved) humans dancing, there was a group of humans who had no problem dancing: kids. I watched a two year old child make her way toward the stage, doing an amazing dance. And everyone who saw her was instantly smiling and filled with joy. And there was another person I observed, an autistic young man, who swayed smoothly to every rhythm we created. It was joyful to watch him caught in the music and open to expressing his happiness.
So, it seems that most people have an inner dancer and that somewhere along the way, for some, something stopped that dancer. Perhaps part of it is that taking ourselves too seriously. Those people who get up and dance usually seem to not have a care in the world. And for the band, they supply a wonderful stream of energy. That connection creates that cycle of energy that literally charges the evening.
Today, we played a retirement home in downtown Denver. Once the music started, a wonderful lady got out of her chair and started to dance. “Go boys,” she shouted as we played away. And that’s when it hit me about dance.
To dance is to participate in the moment. It is a way of tapping into the cosmic channel of Joy. To vibrate on that level is about being in touch with being alive. From the two year old to the 85 year old senior, the main thing was the surrender of the self. We need to get out and get to a dance...our happiness as a species needs it. Our very lives depend on it.
American Roots & Celtic Soul