Unlike other art forms, such as painting, sculpture, or literature; dance is a fleeting, ephemeral form of art. Dance can not exist outside of the time and space it was performed in. Painting, like sculpture and indeed literature, becomes a physical object that can be touched, relocated and preserved indefinitely. Yet, dance no longer exists in any form outside of the few minutes that it is performed.
Dance writers have the ability to resurrect images of dance movement, as well as reawaken emotions evoked through dance. Given its ephemeral nature, the images, emotions and meanings created through dance are completely lost after the performance has ended. So, the dance writer is given the power to resurrect, physically record and preserve these often intangible facets of dance.
Therefore, preserving the many interpretations and meanings found in
dance- not to mention their historical, cultural and political significance- is of the utmost important to dance writers.
Additionally, dance writers have the responsibility to write honestly and boldly. What is 'good' dance? And who decides what makes good dance? Other than word-of-mouth, the dance writer is responsible for creating excitement, criticism, recommendation and simply analysing dances. Spectators use dance reviews to decide what performances to watch, and equally which not to watch. In addition, dance artists may also depend on the opinions of dance writers for the success of their performances and tours.
So why is dance writing important? Dance writing has the invaluable ability to breathe life into the lost images and sentiments that are created in performance. But above all, dance writers hold the key to preserving, or even 'immortalising', an art form that would otherwise be lost.