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Author Topic: technique vs. expression  (Read 5556 times)
ttd
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« on: April 07, 2011, 10:25:44 PM »

This is sort of inspired by Black Swan movie. At multiple points in the movie the main character is told to quit obsessing over her technique and put more expression into her dancing. But obviously she is very good at technique already, seeing that she's selected for the lead role in Swan Lake.

So, is there a point in our dancing when we reach enough technical proficiency that we don't have to focus on technique so much? And if there is, when does it happen?

I've heard more than a few times something along the lines "you already know how to do X, now I need you to just do it and be confident about it". But every now and then I get a new layer of technical details and as I focus on them, I become more tentative in my dancing and my expression is usually the first thing that goes.
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QPO
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2011, 09:36:11 AM »

I think that techinque is to be used while you are training  but you need to forget it on the comp floor and work on auto pilot....and just enjoy the music..  but of course this is not an over night thing and take time to develop that confidence.

I do believe that some of us  get this quicker than others.
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2011, 11:04:28 AM »

I would say there sure is a time to let go of technique. Learning technique is like learning how to build a house and using the tools to do so. Let’s say you have to learn to build the foundation of the house. You have learned to use the tools used for that job and you know the basic principles of how to build it. It is now time to go do the building of it. Build the foundation and make the tools part of you. It is not good to think of the tools and building of the foundation as something so special that you don’t even get started. It might take a few times to master the building of the foundation but with practice you will soon be a natural at it. 

Whenever you look at highly skilled people doing their trait, they always look at one with the tools they use. Think about a good hairdresser. The scissors look like an extension of the hairdresser’s hands. It is the same with everybody that is skilled in using a tool. Technique should be thought of as the use of tools. When you have to think about every move you do with a tool it looks artificial and at times even clumsy. The better you get, the more at one you get with the tool. When you get really good the tools and the using of the tool become second nature. You do have to stop thinking of the technique of how to hold and use the tool to get to the point it becoming second nature.

My teacher used to say that as soon as you have an idea of what a technique is about, let go and do a test runs to see if the technique is in the body. If it is not yet in the body, work on it again and then do another test run. The better you get the less you think about technique as it is as naturals as picking up a glass of liquid to drink when you are thirsty.

Techniques are like tools. When you start your car, you don’t sit with the tools in your hands, which might be need if the car breaks down. The tools are probable in the trunk of the car, in the garage or maybe you don’t even have the tools needed to fix the car yourself. You just expect the car to work and work well. Having the same mentality with technique for dancing will help you improve faster.

I hope this helps you in your pursue to great dancing.

DSV
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Some guy
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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2011, 12:46:57 PM »

Great post, and great to see you again DSV!  Just decided to let go of some of my tools yesterday.  It's kinda scary letting them go.  I'm still looking around to make sure the tools are still close at hand.  I need to stop doing that.

I don't know if, to me, technique = tools.  "Technique" - I think as it's commonly used in my neck of the woods in the ballroom scene - is a label for the end result.  I need to think about this a bit more before I type any more. 

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QPO
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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2011, 09:29:01 PM »

like cooking with a recipe or without....you always start with a recipe but the more you do it you remember it and don’t use it again..
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elisedance
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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2011, 09:38:00 PM »

You don't think about how to press the pedal or turn the wheel when you drive a car anymore do you?  But I bet you did when you were learning....
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ttd
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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2011, 10:58:59 PM »

That's true, I don't think about mechanics of driving anymore, but I've been doing it a lot of it (I think my personal mileage is over 250K in 15 years). So in dancing terms, at what level do we reach the point where technical details happen automatically? In the beginning, at least, once we master one technical aspect, the new layer gets added almost immediately, so there's no time to step away from technical details and just dance. But once we reach a certain technical proficiency, suddenly we're not supposed to think about it as much and can focus on being expressive and artistic. So what does it take to make this shift happen? Obviously someone can get very advanced technically and still worry about it so much that their dancing lacks soul (I can't come up with a better way to put it, hopefully this makes sense). Or on the other hand, I've social danced with some individuals who would have benefited from paying attention to at least some technique aspects (like not leaning forward onto the lady), yet who're quite creative at least with their choices of steps and are quite relaxed otherwise, not worried at all when something didn't work.
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elisedance
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« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2011, 11:59:30 PM »

I think it depends on how you approach dancing.  There are many for whom the technical aspects ARE dance and they can not dance without focussing on the foot placement, length of stride, direction etc.  I think this is a bit of a security blanket really since it takes courage to just let yourself go.  And this is surel the same for both lead and follow (initiator and responder if you like)
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Some guy
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« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2011, 04:22:43 PM »

Could it be that we've got technique and dancing bass-ackwards?  I don't think you have to learn technique in order to dance.  On the contrary, I think you have to dance before people can observe your technique.  If the technique is not good, then they can change your dancing.  However, at no point do I think the focus should even be on doing technique.  There's the obvious limitation that you can only focus on one, maybe two, technical aspects at a time if you're actually trying to "do" technique.  I think you have to dance it, and then let others observe the technique happen.  I don't think it's possible to "do" technique.  

Take timing and counting for example: it's pretty impossible to dance while counting.  Your weight will never be where it should.  However, you can move through the beats, which is how our bodies naturally enjoy moving to music, the way you feel it, and then let someone observe, count it, and then comment on your musicality.  Same with footwork: you can dance your body the way you want to, see where your feet land, and then have an observer (coach/teacher) tell you if you had good footwork.  If your feet didn't close properly, then your body didn't have enough lateral motion to force your feet together.  However, what I see is students learning for hours the "footwork" and their bodies are nowhere near the position it's supposed to be to cause the footwork to happen.  I've been on that side of the fence and it hasn't been fun.  It's only within the last few months that I learned that a lock step is not a step at all.  It's just the angular motion of the body that causes our feet to lock.  If the feet didn't lock, it's not because I was  doing the technique wrong, it was because I wasn't dancing my body right.  So technique, I believe, always takes second place to dancing.  

This was one of the biggest lessons I learned in the original "Quantal Shift" thread.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 04:25:19 PM by Some guy » Logged
elisedance
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« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2011, 05:52:03 PM »

Right on SG!  But I guess where technique comes in is when our bodies DON't dance right - usually because of some developmental trauma or physical deficiency. Thus, technique is what we use to correct or lack of dancing ability.

So far so good - but somewhere we have to learn the specifics of a particular style of dance.  You can put on a tango and ask somone to dance to it - and I guarantee it will not look anything like the 'tango' that is so familiar to us in ballroom (or for that matter AT or any other form of tang).  Each dance form has a set of rules that make it what it is - and those rules are essential technique, not to mention the body moves that are necessary to achieve them.  I find it just a bit naive to suggest that a particular dance can be created without any knowledge of technique.  There are ways of moving that make us look like waltz or tango (rise and fall, swing etc) that sure, you can develop as a fundamental movement but you still need some knowledge of technique.
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Some guy
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« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2011, 09:25:17 PM »

There are ways of moving that make us look like waltz or tango (rise and fall, swing etc) that sure, you can develop as a fundamental movement but you still need some knowledge of technique.
I think we're on the same page (!).  I believe you need to know technique, but I don't see why on earth you would want to "do" just the technique.  You can do the dance, which invariably creates the technique, but I don't believe you should ever try to "do" technique.  Any corrections that need to be made can be made to the dance or movement itself, which will result in better technique. I think it's good to improve technique by working on the dance, but never the other way around because then you get into the situation where folks start wondering when they can stop thinking about the technique and start dancing.  BTW, I believe the answer to that age old question is "right now".    

I also think it's quite possible to only work on the dance itself and have the dancer completely unaware of technique.  I've heard of dancers that go very far in the field (world finalists) quite unaware that they knew technique, footwork, etc.  Sure, they displayed brilliant technique, but they were unaware of the concept as a separate entity from the dance.    
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 09:29:38 PM by Some guy » Logged
ttd
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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2011, 10:26:21 PM »

What about things like posture, for example? Posture can be really separate from the dance. Someone can have perfect posture even when not dancing. Is it still inseparable from the dance in your opinion?
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Some guy
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« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2011, 10:28:33 PM »

What about things like posture, for example? Posture can be really separate from the dance. Someone can have perfect posture even when not dancing. Is it still inseparable from the dance in your opinion?
I think posture is part of the dance, yes.  My two cents.  Posture can also make a huge difference in how you feel the dance and how the lady is able to read what you're doing. 
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Some guy
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« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2011, 10:35:30 PM »

There are ways of moving that make us look like waltz or tango (rise and fall, swing etc) that sure, you can develop as a fundamental movement but you still need some knowledge of technique.
I also just remembered a world finalist I've had lessons with who says she wasn't aware of her feet or legs.  As far as she was concerned, she had stumps that stopped above the thighs.  So I wonder what it is that we call "technique" that these folks at the top don't place that much emphasis on.  I know that 7 year old kids who dance 10 times better than I do can't know half as much technique as I do.  Also, these kids were crawling when I was learning "technique".  So they learned ... no,... mastered and were able to demonstrate the technique to crawl, walk, run, ride a bicycle and dance 10 dances in the same amount of time it took me to learn a little bit of technique.  That's when I knew there was something very wrong with the way things were being taught to me.  
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QPO
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« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2011, 01:51:51 AM »

[I also just remembered a world finalist I've had lessons with who says she wasn't aware of her feet or legs.  As far as she was concerned, she had stumps that stopped above the thighs.  So I wonder what it is that we call "technique" that these folks at the top don't place that much emphasis on.  

do say hello form me I miss her turn of phrase....  Grin
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