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Author Topic: Which comes first: dancing or technique?".  (Read 2617 times)
elisedance
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« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2011, 05:31:48 AM »

And how does one "wake the body up"??  Or perhaps how does body awareness happen??

Wouldn't both things fall under dancing and technique??

how does body awareness happen??

that is the sixty-four million dollar question..i'll get back to you on that..

and while you are at it, can you tell us how you got to the $64,000,000 fee? Tongue

Used to be $64,000 question with popular TV game show back when I was a kid. Guess inflation has kicked in since then, lol.  Grin
Grin Grin Grin

its an American expression Shakesperae just said "Ay there's the Rub"

but that sounds rude these days

au contraire, that sounds like a free massage...  Smiley
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millitiz
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« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2011, 11:49:41 AM »

I read the question as: which one to learn first. And apparently, it seems to be another interpretation.

For my own interpretation, I would vote for technique. I probably would go nowhere if my coaches have told me to just dance on day one when I had no idea what dancing was suppose to be. Beside, I didn't have the physicality (say, ankle strength, body tone, flexibility etc) to do the "dancing."

As for coming first in terms of priority (so to speak): Of course, I think the right answer is both =D. However, if I must rank, then I would probably still rank technique first. Because, if one think it this way: having one without the other, how would one dance like? With technique but without dancing would probably result in: looks pretty nice. Not offending. Probably not quite eye catching, but on the other hand, there is nothing wrong about the dancing. Where as having dancing without technique, it would probably range from out right EEEEEWWWWWW to oh, that couple is cute and energetic. And according to my coach philosophy, one should start from not looking bad before looking good. So that is my take.

Also, as far as I could think of, everything involves techniques. Even with dancing. I was trying to figure out what one means techniques, because it seems that people use the word slightly differently. And I decided that the word mean the "know how." For example, to know how to rise and fall, how to swing, how to use one's legs/knees/ankles. Or body/hips/arms. In other word, it provide a basis to express/dance oneself.

Also, I am wondering whether there is a difference between Latin and Standard. Because it seems that technique could get one quite far in Standard, where as dancing and energy could do the same wonder for Latin.

So from these few perspectives, I would say that technique comes first - while it is not the end in itself.
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samina
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« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2011, 01:00:09 PM »

for my part, i appreciate the approach of the two taking turns traveling in tandem. learn enuf structure and "how to" to dig in and have some fun and get the feel of dancing, then dig into some principles and deeper understanding of mechanics to develop better mechanics, understandings, and sensations, with a "principle-based" (or "job"-based) approach. then let go and dance as best one can with what one has. then bring in technique to tweak the misalignments & understandings. and so on...

i was so fortunate to have a very knowledgable amateur practice partner when i was just starting out. he taught me all kinds of choreo we would dance in true lead & follow, "way over my head" stuff that gave me an experience of what it feels to dance with a partner and move about the floor with some semblance of expression. without that, i would never have had a taste of what i was aiming for... only the visual & vicarious sense from watching accomplished dancers. then i spent a lot of time working on technique at the outset of my instruction, downloading "over-my-head" technique before i'd had an experience of dancing much with my instructor.

then it helped to just reduce that to some basic principles and see how best i could pull it together. i just stopped paying attention to technique and focused on the dancing. i wouldn't have done it any other way because that worked for my personality and where i was, what i needed. but not everyone is the same. others will need a different approach.

just get in there and get summa both to get the ball rolling, IMV. and both will grow as the need arises. Smiley
« Last Edit: June 06, 2011, 01:03:40 PM by samina » Logged
elisedance
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« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2011, 09:30:56 AM »

i was so fortunate to have a very knowledgable amateur practice partner when i was just starting out. he taught me all kinds of choreo we would dance in true lead & follow, "way over my head" stuff that gave me an experience of what it feels to dance with a partner and move about the floor with some semblance of expression. without that, i would never have had a taste of what i was aiming for...

You were SO fortunate - I think thats one of the major problems for followers - they've never actually felt what its like.  My first experience really being led was by Jim Jenkins - a long ago past US champion who boasted (he was not shy) that he could dance with anyone who walked in the door.  Turns out he could Grin  I don't think that sensation ever left me - though in between I had much more of the other stuff - 'the man does this while you do that'. 

Now I'm having a hard time finding any pro that that both has the training AND is willing to let me just follow.  Perhaps I have to go back to pro-am for a bit and stomp my foot on the floor...
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samina
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« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2011, 11:14:37 PM »

i was so fortunate to have a very knowledgable amateur practice partner when i was just starting out. he taught me all kinds of choreo we would dance in true lead & follow, "way over my head" stuff that gave me an experience of what it feels to dance with a partner and move about the floor with some semblance of expression. without that, i would never have had a taste of what i was aiming for...

You were SO fortunate - I think thats one of the major problems for followers - they've never actually felt what its like. 
i agree.

one thing about that experience...he led in a very "old-school", strong body contact manner. "follow my belly" he said, so i was to "look for" his torso all the time, and it was easy to go where i needed to go. but when i went back to my lessons with my far more modern-dancing instructor, he instantly felt me unconsciously "looking for him" and i was strongly reprimanded, tutorally speaking. "never look for me". so as for the technique i was learning, it was not helpful, especially at that point, so early on.

but i had the time of my life with him, and was so very grateful for the experience.

Quote
Now I'm having a hard time finding any pro that that both has the training AND is willing to let me just follow.  Perhaps I have to go back to pro-am for a bit and stomp my foot on the floor...
good luck with that, elise. there must be someone up your way who understands the value of L&F!
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elisedance
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« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2011, 04:48:55 AM »


Quote
Now I'm having a hard time finding any pro that that both has the training AND is willing to let me just follow.  Perhaps I have to go back to pro-am for a bit and stomp my foot on the floor...
good luck with that, elise. there must be someone up your way who understands the value of L&F!

Yeah, but I'm kinda blown away that I'm having this conversation.  It should be the opposite - you should have to struggle to find a pro that insists on a routine... 
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Some guy
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« Reply #21 on: July 01, 2011, 12:53:59 PM »

This article is a bit long, but I found it very appropriate:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wdc EducationMasters
Education Master: Fred Bijster
 
Just dance…………
 
... Animals do dance. No question about that. If you ever watched animal behaviour you certainly will agree. Especially in the mating-season they show wonderful and complex patterns of formalized and stylised steps and movements, interacting with a possible partner. A distinct choreography that must be followed in order to be “successful” (whatever that may be…). A perfect technique, strict in the way it is executed is obligatory and creates a certain style in the performance. A sound definition of dancing, isn’t it?
 
Walter Laird, the famous writer of his books on technique once used the lion as an example.
His question was: “Do you think the lion was thinking for one single moment about his technique (“left foot forward, slightly to the side, toes turned in”) when he crept slowly towards his prey?
No way, he was just very hungry and wanted to eat!”.
And yet the technique was impeccable! Never read a book in his life…..
 
This “dancing” reaches it’s pinnacle in animals with a sound genetic constitution, followed most of the time by a social education. If one of those terms is missing or incomplete, the dance will be deformed or even never surface! Interesting here is that they do not “practise” the dance itself.
A perfect example is the Black Widow spider: the male has to “dance” before he is allowed to come even near her. If his choreography or performance isn’t perfect, she will kill and eat him! Never a second chance, it must be perfect the first time he does it! And strangely enough very often it works. It is perfect to her taste and hence… we have new Black Widow spiders.
 
This leads to the insight that animals can do “dances” they have never practised or done before, initiated by inside and / or outside stimuli. Complex forms of movements, strict in choreography, strict in form, strict in style, strict in rhythm, and perfect in technique.
They do not have a coach, they do not have a book, they can’t count, they do not practise……. They just want to eat, mate or whatever.
 
The accepted explanation for this “dancing” is that it consists of a number of basic motivations (strongly connected to basic forms of behaviour), thriving for dominance inside the animal and shown by a combination of elements of these basic forms of behaviour. The combination giving a mixture of basic actions that take on a totally new form: the dance.
The animal is said to be “in conflict”. The better equipped, the longer he can stay in this situation. Long enough to show the complete pattern needed for the purpose in mind and show us the beauty in motion.
 
In essence it tells us that animals can perform dances because they are balanced, fully matured creatures, in harmony with themselves that have done and still do their “basics”.
From that the “dance” will surface in the right form at the right moment and give us a magical performance.
 
Not that the female animal in matingdances performed by the male is looking for a good show to enjoy just that. She just wants the best possible genetical ingredients and, where this is an issue, the best possible father for her children. Performing well means the basic ingredients are in order.
In some human cultures the dance has that same function: show your are “fit”. Different dances will show different ways of being “fit” (for whatever…….).
 
But, we are no animals……….
At least that is how most of us experience it. Biologist certainly disagree and with reason.
On the other hand, we can clearly distinguish ourselves from other animals.
We have a brain and some say that is a bonus.
We think. And that is where it all goes wrong most of the time.
The world around us is an analogue chaos (in more than one sense). But our brain has given us logic and this rules our life from the moment we decided that the world is a logical system. We no longer trust our instincts, don’t even realize we have them; we rely on logic. Everything must be digital and fit into this logic. We must “understand” and from this understanding we can move on.
We notice things within our logical framework and do not notice the rest. The magic.
 
The dominant role of the brain and logic in humanity has created a situation that we very often make the mistake of thinking (there we go again) that the brain tells us who we are, gives us identity. We have taken a distance from our instincts, from our feelings, from ourselves. Society interferes and prescribes who we are. Certain forms of behaviour are simply unacceptable in certain cultures and therefore we see strong cultural differences in behaviour.
Also affecting the ways we dance……
In essence we focus on anything but ourselves. Thanks to the brain!
 
We’ve created music and embedded this in a logical system of beats and bars.
We’ve written books on technique and, not considering all restrictions of the languages, lack of words, etc. call it the “bible” and spend our life trying to understand it, get our brains around it.
These books are also a logical framework of an analogue entity: movement.
“A picture paints a thousand words”.
How many words would we need to describe a simple movement?
So how much do you really know even if you can spell the book word by word? And what is missing?
 
Let us first realize that our dances are, as our music, all artificial. Created by the brain. Sometimes the variations are very clever and look “authentic”, sometimes just copied from one dance to the other. But the important pioneers in our dancing were true pioneers: they danced as they felt it was right and if you look at some of them, you can see it was not contemporary what they did; it was good then, it is still good now. Convincing, true and certainly not faked. They strongly relied on their personal emotions connected to the dances. And I know that some of them certainly knew and followed their instincts and emotions!
What they wrote down was only a small portion; a framework and the boundaries.
To turn this around and state that studying the book will learn you how to dance is a major mistake. A famous pianoplayer once said it very clear: the magic of music is in between the notes, not in the notes. So is the magic in dancing. Those who know this are allowed to call the books on technique their bible. Because they know what is not written down and in their dancing they will reproduce all that is in the book and more. They have gone the whole way.
Donnie Burns & Gaynor Fairweather, a perfect example of magic in dance, have tried and tested many different paths and came to the conclusion that Walter Laird was their god and his books are the bible. They practised the basic steps millions of times before they were “satisfied” (if they ever where) and found the connection between themselves as persons, the actions and what was written down in the book. From that, as we all witnessed, they could dance anything in the required style. Not focusing on the book, but waiting (im)patiently for the dance to present itself in full from within, in accordance with the book. Not according to the book.
 
They managed to cross the gab between what animals do on the basis of natural movements, build up purely from inside and thus creating a dance, and what humans can do: turning essentially artificial movements into a second nature; getting it in your system, make it your own, so it can come out in a pure and convincing way: the dance in it’s own right, nothing more, nothing less.
Two other great people gave their brain the right position (not overruling the personality): John Delroy, once advised us to close our eyes, listen to and feel the music for one minute and then open your eyes and look at what you see……. He saw no connection between the music and the dance and his own built up emotions.
Another great example was Benny Tolmeyer. If you asked him to count a variation, he started to sing it! The more complex the variation, the more he would sing. Filling in the gabs in the counting and by doing so calling the magic in. In his own way telling you that it is impossible to dissect an analogue action into a digital form. Or rather to create an analogue action from a digital format.
 
I would advise every dancer to start looking for their own personality first.
Allowing yourself to discover the full extend of your emotions and trust your instinct. And accept who you are. That will cost you a lifetime, but it is worthwhile.
Stop thinking, it doesn’t help anyway. Your instincts are much more reliable to act upon and next to that it will give you more satisfaction. Your personality hides in your feelings, not in your brain.
Then take one of those books, practise the steps and try to find the magic in between. It will only come if you allow your personality to take over. Do not let your brain run the show, only use it to monitor.
Do not focus on what your brain knows; we are all tunnel-visioned and only partly aware. Most of what we know is out of reach anyway.
Do not count but sing, Do not copy but create,
Allow your feelings to take over, allow your body to speak from inside.
Have no fear to make mistakes. But don’t do it always and all the time.
Prepare yourself in the basics and find the magic there. A good coach can help you a lot.
As Benny Tolmeyer said: you have to go all the way; there are no shortcuts.
 
The dance will come out if and when your body masters the basic principles. Almost by itself and from within. And it will allow you to make the dance more complex, showing an impeccable technical skill in the premeditated style. But even more important: showing the magic of dance.
And on a bad night, when the magic doesn’t appear, your technical skill will help you through the night!
 
Society today is very open and new influences are recognized and embedded in the teaching and practising. Dancing became a sport, others define it as an art. Dynamics, breath-control, facial expressions, body-language and many other features (tools) became the focus of some coaches.
In some cases these tools or classifications took over and overruled the dance:
Especially in the amateur-ranks the performance radiates “sport” and the dancing becomes a race in full speed. Some other couples you can see are pure art and should go straight to the museum.
Again others are taught to use facial expressions and look like a freakshow on the floor.
Breath-control results in hissing-sounds so loud that you can’t hear the music.
Let’s not go into dynamics or body-language!
 
Here again, and to a great extend some coaches are to blame, the tools overrule the dance, the person and sometimes even the music. Again people have used their brains and think they found a shortcut.
They do not realize that good dancing will create dynamics, facial expressions, the occasional deep breath, etc. and your body will “speak” in the right tone. They simple put a layer over bad dancing and turn it all into a gimmick, a freakshow, a fake.
Many tools have come, many have gone, only one thing “stayed on the floor”: sound dancing.
In general I think the leading coaches of this world know the value of sound technique and the development of the personality behind it and work very hard to give this preference. They know it is a long way you have to travel in order to come home and understand the basic values, to make it your second nature and to find the magic. And even add more to it.
 
Hence my advise: Don’t think, just dance………
 
Fred Bijster

Response: 
Michael Herdlitzka : In accordance to Fred's thoughts I would say we see too many "thinking", meaning "step-by-step-programmed dance robots" and too few "lions" on our dance floors. The young lion has to learn once but it learns concentrating on the "what" (the prey) and never takes the "how" ("left foot forward") as equally or even more important.



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skipper
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« Reply #22 on: July 01, 2011, 01:58:14 PM »

WOW!!!!  Thank-you.....
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Some guy
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« Reply #23 on: July 01, 2011, 04:20:29 PM »

Great isn't it?   Cheesy
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elisedance
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« Reply #24 on: July 01, 2011, 05:17:37 PM »

fantastic...
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #25 on: July 01, 2011, 11:56:02 PM »

I agree very much with Fred Smiley

DSV
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elisedance
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« Reply #26 on: July 02, 2011, 04:21:35 AM »

But Fred only touches on the critical issue - what IS technique and what aspects of it are to be ignored when you dance.  The conundrum arises from the fact that to do a specific dance we have to follow its rules - thats what makes us look like a tango rather than a foxtrot when dancing to 4/4 music.  Thus, in letting ourselves be ruled by our instincts in dance we still have to be guided by a set of rules. 

I think the problem is ultimately that there is are only one set of (partnerdance) 'techniques', ones that permit our bodies to do the maximum possible motions.  Further, if you get down to it , there really is only one dance form, the one inspired by the piece of music that is currently being played.  Our attempts to box dances into specific forms (tango waltz etc) is really an artificial constraint on real dance.  I think thats what Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham were really about - we need the new genius to show us the same for partner dancing...
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Beachbum
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« Reply #27 on: July 02, 2011, 07:45:41 PM »

Any argument or discussion, when carried on for a sufficiently long time, will devolve into semantics.
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Yes.  Quite.
elisedance
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« Reply #28 on: July 02, 2011, 09:08:27 PM »

Any argument or discussion, when carried on for a sufficiently long time, will devolve into semantics.

Define semantics...
..
..
.. Tongue
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pruthe
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« Reply #29 on: July 02, 2011, 10:10:31 PM »

From Dancesportinfo interview of World Champions, Arunas Bizokas and Katusha Demidova, Feb, 2010.

How important is technique in dancing?

[Arunas] I think it is the Key. Without technique I don't think you have the possibility to produce great performances and technique allows you to produce it, especially to produce it more consistently. It is very important.
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