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Finding a Voice Through Dance

By: Taylor Morris

I know what you’re thinking reading that title: “But Taylor, isn’t dance nonverbal? What does your voice have to do with dance?” And you’re right- you don’t have to say anything when you dance. At least, not with your vocal cords. But I would argue that all good art has something to say, and that includes dance.


Even without trying, our choices as dancers and choreographers will speak volumes to an audience. How dancers move their bodies onstage- be it through shape, force, or performance- will give viewers an impression as to how they should feel. The choices made by a choreographer also have an impact on that. Those choices include musical selection, movement, lighting, and costuming.


All those pieces must work together to send a cohesive message to your audience. If a piece is supposed to be joyful and your music is a somber violin selection, it probably wouldn’t work. The tone of a piece can also be altered by what the dancers are wearing, as well as the color and effects of the stage lighting. Colors have been proven to affect how we feel, as humans associate certain colors with particular items, experiences, or sensations. Cool colors such as blue are more calming, whereas bold, bright shades like red will feel more intense- and be associated with power, anger, or violence. That’s a very simplistic overview of color theory, but the choices made in regards to dance can have a drastic effect on a piece’s message.


Even as dancers, bringing to life someone else’s vision, you are always striving to find how to best say what the choreographer wants you to say with your body. Is the movement sharp and hard or light and airy? Depending on how you dance a movement phrase, you can change how the audience will perceive its meaning.


Wow, did you realize how much you could say through silent movement!?


For a long time, I’m not sure I fully did. I felt stifled by an inability to express how I felt and as a result, felt like I had no voice in this world. Dance was my go-to outlet for expressing myself, no words required. But in recent years I have had a growing number of opportunities to choreograph for the Fort Wayne Dance Collective, and have realized that through my art, I can easily have a voice to speak to people in this community. The dances I choreograph are my way of saying what I want to say. Of speaking out about subjects I feel passionately about or even sharing my personal struggles and emotions- all without having to audibly speak (whew- what a relief that is!). In turn, sometimes in the process of using my voice through my art, I have discovered that I have a voice vocally as well. Who would’ve thought!?


In a somewhat meta move, my solo piece for “Collective Expressions” this year, titled “Walls I Can’t Seem to Break Through,” is partially about my struggle to find my voice, and I am excited to share it with all of you. The show, put on by the FWDC’s Touring Company and performed this year at Purdue Fort Wayne’s Williams Theatre on August 3rd (7:30pm) and 4th (2:30pm), has always been one of my favorite shows each year, for the simple reason that it gives me and other talented dancers the opportunity to choreograph and have something to say and share with the audience. The show allows us all to have a voice- singular artistic expressions that we can bring together and collectively share with the greater Fort Wayne area.


There are a lot of great artistic visions to be shared during the performance, and I am thankful for the opportunity to share mine. I believe people need to be able to express themselves and their views, and that is why art is so important to have and cultivate in our community. I urge you to support your local artists and hear what they have to say; allow them and encourage them to share their voices and their art with the world. I hope to see you all at “Collective Expressions-” it is too good of a show to miss! Check out FWDC.org or call 260-424-6574 for ticket information.