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Charis Dexter

Personal dance philosophy

I am a Dancer.
Dance is more than a display of something beautiful. It is a mode of connection - a
channel of the spirit - a voice to the soul. Inherent in the assertion that -I am a dancer- is a very
strong obligation, like an undercurrent in the ocean pulling with absolute direction. To be a
beautiful dancer is to be endowed with a gift that was first given to the soul and was later
manifest in the body. To honor this endowment means that you are diligent in the pursuit of
excellence and you must remember the importance of your gift every single day. Even when the
body needs a break, the mind and the spirit must be in consistent cultivation, and this leads you
to a transparency that one day will fully expose the gift that is within you.
Every time you perform, driven by the undercurrent of obligation, you forge through
layers of mediocrity that would disguise the reality of your potential and in so doing - discover
the gift. Then, as you continue, you discover its implications on the possibilities you can achieve
through your existence. To be a performer is to exist in a more complete place; not to experience
perfection, but to open the vision of what perfection requires. A depth of individuality comes to
you through involvement in this thing that requires your all. It is through this deep requirement
that you discover a realm of fulfillment that keeps the dancer dancing, and overcomes the weight
of the weaker side of the human being.

These words of Baryshnikov resonate deeply with how I feel: When a dancer comes
onstage, he is not just a blank slate that the choreographer has written on. Behind him he has all
the decisions he has made in life. He has already met a million forks in the road. Each time, he
has chosen, and in what he is onstage you see the result of those choices. You are looking at the
person he is, the person who, at this point, he cannot help but be. Exceptional dancers, in my
experience, are also exceptional people, people with an attitude toward life, a kind of quest, and
an internal quality. They know who they are, and they show this to you, willingly." A broad
expanse of life experiences will make the most powerful performers. They who lack the
refinement of well utilized experience are not fully blossomed artists - no matter the perfection
of their technique.
The importance of dance as a performing art is due to the fact that its power multiplies
when the dance is shared with an audience. The performer experiences the more complete place
and the vision of what perfection requires and as they do, the audience is invited into that realm
as well. Dance speaks things to the soul prerequisite to cognitive understanding, it is a language.
The language of that which is felt, that which is internal, that which is spiritual, indeed it is the
expression of that which is known yet reluctant to be articulated verbally.
The evidence for the inherent power and beauty of dance is the opposition that presses
down on those with a great possibility of rising with the gift. Among the prevalent pressures are
those attempting to distance the dancer from the love for, comfort in, and sensitivity to, their
bodies. If the dancer feeds on negative thoughts they will soon distance themselves from their
own potential. Some are tempted to hate their bodies, which leads to discomfort with even seeing
themselves in the mirror. In the effort to not feel this disgust a disconnection happens and the

dancer pulls out of themselves and instead of loving and listening to the bodys needs, tries to
take control by possibly ignoring their needs in the pursuit of perceived perfection. It is actually
a trap to keep the dancer distracted from being at peace with themselves so that they will not
reach their full potential. The dancer approaches true perfection when there is harmony between
the mind, the body, and the spirit. Love of self is central to these and the powers of opposition
are fully aware of this.
The model of progression in life is exactly the same as it is in the dance space, but time is
not the same. By practicing to become an accomplished dancer, you simultaneously come to
understand how to change and progress as an accomplished individual. Every day that you
practice it is as though you have lived through a full cycle of opposition and then mastery or
retreat. To practice the dance with sincerity is to age the soul in wisdom beyond the years of the
The highest service the dancer can offer their fellow men is to make the necessary
sacrifice to realize their gift. In the solid years of study it feels as though the endeavor is selfish
and one who desires to spend all their life in the service of others can become disillusioned that
they are not doing all the service that they could. But the world will benefit more from the dancer
who has taken the hours of seclusion to fully realize what they have to offer, than the one who
have half-heartedly cultivated the gift interspersed with random other distractions. It takes years
of soaking in water, light and protection, before a shade tree gives back to the world. But once it
becomes a majestic oak, it will always provide needed shade to those under its branches.
I find dance has been my compensating blessing when other things that I loved were lost
to me. Dancing in moments of emotional pain brought release and relief. Dancing in moments of

stress brought catharsis. Dancing when all is well I find connection with my Creator. Dance is a
way for me to shine the light I have through dark clouds of this mortal experience. Dance is
sometimes the voice of my prayers. I bring specific thoughts of truth to the stage that I want to
share, and the audience feels them, even if they dont know how to translate that into words.
Dance is one of the ways that I reach out to lift the children in my life, their hearts sing with
mine as I dance, and they are inspired by the gift. Dance is a way that I connect with people;
especially those in the audience setting. Dance lets me show people who I am, not many people
really know me deeply, but those who know me best know me as a dancer as well.