What makes a good dancer?
Posted by Passionata Dance on February 17, 2012
How can you tell a good dancing from a bad dancing? This is one of those questions that places things into a paradigm of competition/scarcity or factions within a certain style. Focusing on the differences, comparision and envy. Essentially dancing is a living thing and evolves as much as the people involved do and is a reflection on the psyche or human nature of society at the time. So the original question becomes a difficult question to answer.
In this article I will first try to get the reader to comprehend the differing opinions and mediate them to come around to ultimately their own decision of what makes a good dance or a not so great one. There are universally accepted principles:
- A dance must be enjoyable.
- A true expression of the self experiencing the unadulterated movement.
- It must naturally capture and audience.
- It must be congruent to the music.
- An aspect of expression and emotion must be evolved.
- A great dance is analogue in nature and may be digitally developed into great analogue or vice versa, analogally developed into a digital creation, which approaches the metaphysical and philosophical purposes of dance.
-etc. (possibly more rules to help define, break and change the styles)
Traditionalists vs Progressionist
Within the dancing world we must consider there are those who choose to stick to the same teachings and repeat until perfection of thier emulated craft and in the other camp those who are progressives and experiment to find new ways of movement to understanding their potentials. Usually this will manifest in factional and fractional groups within these factions. While this is happening there are those who help hybridise and collaborate the two schools of thought and those who compete and create breakaway styles. This causes at least 4 main divisions in any field of artistic development. So now we have Traditionalists, Progressives, Collaborators and Competitors. The question is now how good are they at these aspects when it comes to their style. Everyone as a individual dancer has a mixture of four of these aspects within their style.
Performers vs Social Dancers
There are people who are great performers in dance and learn routines and movements from teachers, However they lack in substance especially if they are copying their teacher, depending on their ability to emulate the style or to own the style. Some dancers are great emulators of other dancers while some are great improvisers. Someone who copies a teacher will never be as great as the person they copy, unless they start owning the movements and developing their own intentions with those movements. Social dancers are great improvisors since they are required to think on their feet. social dancers could have many reasons for dancing, while performers usually only have one. This makes a social dancer far more superior in terms of depth and dimension of experience far more a better dancer. On the flip side of the coin seasoned performers can emulate all the emotions needed to accentuate depth needed to captivate their audiences. Recently I have seen a class of dancers who pay their way into performance groups for prestige, but their dancing is always off putting as they have not earned the respect of the muse of dance.
Routines or Improvisation.
there are some schools that teach routines to their students, routines require memory while Improvisation requires dilligence. It's easy to teach someone to do exactly as you tell them with demonstration, but it is harder to get someone to do what they feel for themselves after providing them with the tools and years of refinement. What constitutes a dance is the moves or steps and the routine. The movements can be learned as primitives and these primitives are strung together with the flow of music from begining to end. A routine is a blanket approach to a situation which includes all the necessary parts but lacks in the constitution of depth. In order for a routine to look great from start to end, the dancers must fill the whole dance with energy from beginning to end and control the ebb,flow and volume of energy released in time with the musical rhythm and phrasings.
A movement can look completely with no intent, and be digital, or it can be analogue with intent at variable volumn in accordance with the emotion the music dictates.
There are many reasons for dancing as there are styles and techiques. Dancing is an artform and to the uninitiated or initiatied their are widely contestable views about what makes a great dancer and a mediocre one. The earlier part of the article has now set the framework for the original question, what makes a good dancer?
The answer is different to everyone, but essentially we all inately know yet sometimes we cannot describe.
Dancing is an expression of soul. so therefore the way to engage engage if someone "dances from their heart" when they see the movement is consistent with love of the music and the emotion in their face. Did the dancer enjoy the music and dance, does it show in their face genuinely? My answer is if a person makes a complete fool of themselves and enjoys it, they ARE a good dancer. If one thinks about what their observers thought of them during the dance, they have failed. If one applies self censorship, they are limiting their expression and have failed the rule of dance. That you must enjoy and express yourself with no regret. i beleive that if this single priciple is fulfilled within a dance it is a good dance. To enjoy dance truly is to be in the exact moment of the now without thinking consciously about your past or possible future. The goal is to be lost in the moment, and this is true passion. Essentially coming to the conclusion that Dance is Freedom.
Hopefully this article gets you to think and inspires you to agree or disagree and at the least, courage to have an open mind and opinion.
Love, Peace and Dance
By Derek Vuong, Passionata Dance
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