Saturday, August 27, 2016

The words of dancing

Tight shoulders or loose shoulders, pounding feet or twirling grace, carefully structured rhythms or spontaneous flows of motion—there are as many types of dance as there are cultures in the world.

A celebratory dance floor
How the dancers move, and who dances, is one way writers and media-makers help create a setting. We have stereotypes as viewers as to who does what kind of dance. Barn dance, to cheerful music, and everyone stomps their way through songs? You're in a rustic setting. Sweeping skirts of the wealthy, and gentle twirls, with carefully orchestrated motions, to an actual orchestra? You're in a court, glitz and glamour to the max. Loose shoulders, young dancers, with a dark lighting and throbbing music? You're in a modern, trendy, edgy world.

Where the courtiers go to conspire between dance sets
Dances are where people meet, where they conspire in public places to avoid being overheard, where they court one another or lay traps for vengeful heartbreak. It's a well-known convention that conspirators on the dance floor will never be overheard, and if anyone slips out between dance sets to "cool off," conspiracy is afoot. And everyone suspects a chase scene from a club in a paranormal world. Dark elves, as everyone knows, are rock addicts who would rule the dive bars if they wound up in them.

Writers use dances to set a tone, to create a mood. The music is light and airy, or dark and throbbing, or a cascading crescendo. Visual media makers use the dance floor to create visual art to the same effect.

What kinds of dancing show up in your favorite worlds? And how does it influence the story?

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