The Incipience of Dancing

Incipience refers to something that is about to begin, that is on the verge of becoming, that is nascent.  Incipience is that quality of expectation, excitement, anticipation, vitality that comes with the almost.  As a student of dance of all kinds in cultures the world over, I think that dancing can be characterized by its relentless incipience.  That is, throughout the dancing we never lose that edgy feeling of excitement expectation anticipation for what is on the verge of becoming and yet when the dancing ceases, we are left still with unsatisfied expectation and anticipation.  Dancing tends not to actually satisfy what it seems to promise and thus entices us to continue dancing and dancing.

This quality of dancing is certainly present on many levels in social dancing like salsa.  Incipience even characterizes the pre-dancing moments when we ask someone or are asked by someone to dance.  What is this dancer/dance going to be like?  What is about to happen?  Then the improvisational nature of the dancing assures that we do not know what is coming next, yet the continuing rhythm and musicality of the music compels the dancing to continue always about to turn into something, yet as soon as it does, or seems to, we cannot pause to savor or reflect on it because the movement of dancing draws us into the flowing incipience.  As we dance with others we are constantly touching, connecting, disconnecting and relating in so many ways each step or complex of bodily movements … all these chanting “this is about to happen; this is about to become something; this is connecting.”  Yet, dancing never allows us to savor or measure anything actually made or birthed.

Dances like salsa are magical and addictive and enticing and command our endless return to the dance floor because of their incipience—their endless promises that are, in some sense, never quite fulfilled.

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One Response to The Incipience of Dancing

  1. Krista says:

    This is real cool! I never thought about why it is that dance is captivating…because of its incipience- I absolutely agree! I also think that it may be the very problem that some people have with dance and why they don’t like to dance…people struggle when given freedom. Dance is free, endlessly flowing and moving; people struggle when they don’t know what to do next or what they think they “should” be doing- they just don’t get it i guess. It is the unknown that people don’t like, but I think it is absolutely captivating. Dance is endless 🙂