In an all too rare bit of cultural activity, I went to see a play at the the Barbican last night, Astronaut by Theatre O. It was just my sort of thing. Physical theatre with a cast of three, in a mixture of English and Spanish. It told the story of what happens to an ordinary man and his family, when the father is picked to be part of a European Space Agency mission to Mars. Most of the action took place in the family's apartment, created partly through sparse furniture, but mostly through the dance/mime actions of the actors. I love the way in which dance can communicate so much about characters and their relationships. I was one of those kids who did ballet and loved it, but too often classical ballet seems to be more about creating intricate patterns and filling time with clever dances than about meaning and character. More modern dance can be like that too. Obviously, as in other media, dance doesn't have to be about story or character. Abstract is beautiful too. But there's something about the wordless communication of emotions that is more immediate, less analytical, less cold perhaps. It demonstrates just how powerful body language can be and makes it explicit, rather than unconcious as it is in everyday experience.
Sometimes dance is just take-your-breath-away beautiful. I really should remember that and go and see performances more often.