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Author Topic: Art or Artifice?  (Read 1475 times)
GreenEyes26
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« on: November 13, 2011, 07:32:15 AM »

[This discussion sequence plucked from another topic far far away... Smiley raises a very interesting question: is ballroom dancing really an art form when its working to a set of rules that there is an expectation to comply to?]

The only down side to this method is that it takes a while to be able to look like you're dancing Latin.  It takes a while to match people's perception of it.  Unless everything is been done right, it doesn't look right, but once you get the whole picture, then you have only one thing to think about at a competition or performance, as opposed to a dozen individual pieces (and a hundred other little things which will enable you to produce those dozen individual pieces).    


SG, what do you mean "looks like Latin"? You seem to suggest that it's not actually Latin.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2011, 05:15:52 AM by elisedance » Logged

"As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
elisedance
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2011, 05:53:02 PM »

The only down side to this method is that it takes a while to be able to look like you're dancing Latin.  It takes a while to match people's perception of it.  Unless everything is been done right, it doesn't look right, but once you get the whole picture, then you have only one thing to think about at a competition or performance, as opposed to a dozen individual pieces (and a hundred other little things which will enable you to produce those dozen individual pieces).     


SG, what do you mean "looks like Latin"? You seem to suggest that it's not actually Latin.
When is latin not latin?  When its all greek...
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Some guy
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2011, 04:02:14 AM »

The only down side to this method is that it takes a while to be able to look like you're dancing Latin.  It takes a while to match people's perception of it.  Unless everything is been done right, it doesn't look right, but once you get the whole picture, then you have only one thing to think about at a competition or performance, as opposed to a dozen individual pieces (and a hundred other little things which will enable you to produce those dozen individual pieces).    


SG, what do you mean "looks like Latin"? You seem to suggest that it's not actually Latin.
Hence the second sentence: "it takes a while to match people's perception of it".  People from the other schools of thought won't think you'r actually dancing Latin because it's not how they recall starting off. 
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elisedance
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2011, 05:07:50 AM »

The only down side to this method is that it takes a while to be able to look like you're dancing Latin.  It takes a while to match people's perception of it.  Unless everything is been done right, it doesn't look right, but once you get the whole picture, then you have only one thing to think about at a competition or performance, as opposed to a dozen individual pieces (and a hundred other little things which will enable you to produce those dozen individual pieces).     


SG, what do you mean "looks like Latin"? You seem to suggest that it's not actually Latin.
Hence the second sentence: "it takes a while to match people's perception of it".  People from the other schools of thought won't think you'r actually dancing Latin because it's not how they recall starting off. 

Interesting line between doing an art and faking it... Actually, I'm not quite sure where that lies.  Obviously we can not dance our own concept of 'tango' so in that sense you are right - we have to mold it to the expectation of what tango should look like.  However, if we do that too much we are no longer really doing an art form.  Very interesting question...
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Some guy
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2011, 11:21:41 AM »

Interesting line between doing an art and faking it... Actually, I'm not quite sure where that lies.  Obviously we can not dance our own concept of 'tango' so in that sense you are right - we have to mold it to the expectation of what tango should look like.  However, if we do that too much we are no longer really doing an art form.  Very interesting question...
I don't know if I understand.  I'm confused how we got here from my comments.  I don't think anyone is faking it.  There are just several schools of thought. 

Imagine that you have a fistful of sand that you have to cover a small round table about 2 feet in diameter with.  The object is to make it look like the sand spread outwards from the center.  One approach is to just drop the sand from a height onto the table and watch it spread (just let it fall, let gravity and nature do their thing... fastest approach).  Another approach is to slowly release sand as you move your hand around the table.  However, this approach won't make it look like the sand spread out from the center right after you release the sand.  It will take more crafting and attention afterwards to add the necessary aesthetics to make it look like the sand spread out from the center.  Another approach is to place all the sand in the center, then move each grain into place on the table until the table looks like it's fairly uniformly covered in sand (slowest approach).  The first approach is akin to the Body School.  Of course, the trick is to find the right height and center of the table that will create the most perfect look of sand covering the table.  At first, you might be too low, causing the sand to not fully spread and cover the table, or you might be too high and off center, causing most of the sand to fall off the table.  So the folks using the other two approaches might see you missing the mark a few times before you finally master the right height, centering, and release of sand.  Also, your approach will be the only one where you have sand all over the floor when you're first starting out, causing their eyebrows to raise up.  Neither approach is faking it as the object is to hit the target (the table) with the sand and cover it beautifully.  There are just very different approaches.   
« Last Edit: November 14, 2011, 11:24:06 AM by Some guy » Logged
GreenEyes26
Mind Workers
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2011, 12:56:41 AM »

Interesting line between doing an art and faking it... Actually, I'm not quite sure where that lies.  Obviously we can not dance our own concept of 'tango' so in that sense you are right - we have to mold it to the expectation of what tango should look like.  However, if we do that too much we are no longer really doing an art form.  Very interesting question...
I don't know if I understand.  I'm confused how we got here from my comments.  I don't think anyone is faking it.  There are just several schools of thought. 

Imagine that you have a fistful of sand that you have to cover a small round table about 2 feet in diameter with.  The object is to make it look like the sand spread outwards from the center.  One approach is to just drop the sand from a height onto the table and watch it spread (just let it fall, let gravity and nature do their thing... fastest approach).  Another approach is to slowly release sand as you move your hand around the table.  However, this approach won't make it look like the sand spread out from the center right after you release the sand.  It will take more crafting and attention afterwards to add the necessary aesthetics to make it look like the sand spread out from the center.  Another approach is to place all the sand in the center, then move each grain into place on the table until the table looks like it's fairly uniformly covered in sand (slowest approach).  The first approach is akin to the Body School.  Of course, the trick is to find the right height and center of the table that will create the most perfect look of sand covering the table.  At first, you might be too low, causing the sand to not fully spread and cover the table, or you might be too high and off center, causing most of the sand to fall off the table.  So the folks using the other two approaches might see you missing the mark a few times before you finally master the right height, centering, and release of sand.  Also, your approach will be the only one where you have sand all over the floor when you're first starting out, causing their eyebrows to raise up.  Neither approach is faking it as the object is to hit the target (the table) with the sand and cover it beautifully.  There are just very different approaches.   

Intriguing analogy...how did you come up with this?

Also, can you give one example of how Body School Latin would not seem at first like "typical" Latin?
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"As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Spiral
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2011, 05:55:22 AM »

[This discussion sequence plucked from another topic far far away... Smiley raises a very interesting question: is ballroom dancing really an art form when its working to a set of rules that there is an expectation to comply to?]

[snip]


Just want to comment on the comment above. Think of painting as an analogy. If I want to draw a tree, it needs to have a trunk, branches, maybe some leaves and roots sticking out. There are certain rules that I need to follow in order to make my tree look like a tree. But, there is also plenty of space for me to make the tree look different from hundreds of other tree paintings out there.

I feel that with ballroom, the space between the rules for artistry is smaller but the possibilities within that space are infinite. As you get better, that 'artistic' space diminishes since you get better at following the rules, but your skill at using that space also increases.  Hope it's making sense Smiley
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To thy self dance true --elisedance
elisedance
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« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2011, 06:29:59 AM »

This question came up on a clasical violin forum that I'm on.  A very experienced violinist expressed the opinion that playing classical music is not a creative art but an interpretative one.  I did not like that at first but I now have to admit it is right.  With the sole exception of cadenzas, you can not change the music you play - only how you play it. 

Ballroom is very similar.  We are mostly under the illusion that the couple can dance creative steps - that is actually very limited.  They dance the same steps everyone else does - indeed I never read that judges are even looking for truly creative material, just dancers who dance the known steps better.  What we discuss on PDO is how each couple achieves this - we don't even have a topic for innovation at all, its just not a factor.

Not that there is anyting wrong with interpretative art - but it is a good idea to know you are doing it.
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
GreenEyes26
Mind Workers
Intermediate Bronze

Posts: 110



« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2011, 03:07:20 PM »

This question came up on a clasical violin forum that I'm on.  A very experienced violinist expressed the opinion that playing classical music is not a creative art but an interpretative one.  I did not like that at first but I now have to admit it is right.  With the sole exception of cadenzas, you can not change the music you play - only how you play it. 

Ballroom is very similar.  We are mostly under the illusion that the couple can dance creative steps - that is actually very limited.  They dance the same steps everyone else does - indeed I never read that judges are even looking for truly creative material, just dancers who dance the known steps better.  What we discuss on PDO is how each couple achieves this - we don't even have a topic for innovation at all, its just not a factor.

Not that there is anyting wrong with interpretative art - but it is a good idea to know you are doing it.

Great comment, Elise, and I agree completely. I think ingenius work is created within the confines of limitations, rather than introducing something completely new. I think I may start a new thread!
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"As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Some guy
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2011, 09:49:15 AM »

Intriguing analogy...how did you come up with this?
Not sure.  My coach might've mentioned it at one point.  

Also, can you give one example of how Body School Latin would not seem at first like "typical" Latin?
Yeah, what I often see is dancers being taught their footwork, individually, without music.  I also see hip movement being taught as a muscular action.  I also see foot turnout, pointing of feet, pushing off of feet, etc, being taught.  None of which I've seen in any Body School lesson I've observed (from raw beginners to seasoned pros). I have on occasion seen students asking specific questions about those aspects because they have a preconceived notion of what Latin should feel like, at which point the teacher will explain how you are producing those actions naturally without feeling like you are or thinking about it specifically.  

Very hard to describe a Body School lesson, but try to imagine a lesson where none of the above is taught. Also, it's not uncommon during a Body School lesson to see students falling to the floor.   Grin
« Last Edit: November 17, 2011, 09:51:48 AM by Some guy » Logged
elisedance
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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2011, 10:04:24 AM »


...it's not uncommon during a Body School lesson to see students falling to the floor.   Grin
not that uncommon during regular practise sessions either Shocked Tongue
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

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Some guy
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« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2011, 10:09:28 AM »

 Grin  Okay, I have to rephrase that: I should add, "as part of the trianing".  Falling on the floor, as part of the training.  We Body Schoolers get some weird looks, I tell ya.
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drj
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« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2011, 07:18:44 AM »


Yeah, what I often see is dancers being taught their footwork, individually, without music.  I also see hip movement being taught as a muscular action.  I also see foot turnout, pointing of feet, pushing off of feet, etc, being taught.  None of which I've seen in any Body School lesson I've observed (from raw beginners to seasoned pros). I have on occasion seen students asking specific questions about those aspects because they have a preconceived notion of what Latin should feel like, at which point the teacher will explain how you are producing those actions naturally without feeling like you are or thinking about it specifically.  

Very hard to describe a Body School lesson, but try to imagine a lesson where none of the above is taught. Also, it's not uncommon during a Body School lesson to see students falling to the floor.   Grin

Interesting. My instructor has always taught me from the inside out, and when I get nitpicky about "how do I Make that happen" re: turnout, body position, torquing, pointing, etc., that's when my lessons get ugly. When I get back on the Let track, rather than the Make track, things get good again. What's interesting is that I started learning to dance with the Make attitude, and have come around to the Let attitude wholeheartedly, but another student has gone exactly the opposite direction, and it's fascinating to watch.

She has been studying with my instructor for over a decade, and they went from stiff beginner pro-am pair to a lovely, flowing, in the moment couple; she can follow anything, he'll throw stuff at her in competition she's never done before, and she takes it in stride and just does it. Or, she did, but about a year ago, she began to badger him about giving her the Make stuff: how do I point my toe, what muscles make the turnout, what are the basic techniques for rhythm, etc. They've been less than happy with each other ever since, and she's gone on to add a different teacher who will analyze every movement and tell her exactly what she should do, gives her routines, does, in short, exactly the opposite of what she's been doing for over a decade. She's happy as a clam; loves the new teacher, loves the nitpicking analytical Make stuff, loves having him go over her performance in excruciating detail about what worked and what she needs to work on in order to place higher than so-and-so. You get the picture. She's gone over to the dark side, imho. She embraces the preconceived notions that she was never before taught. She loves having a routine (shudder). Sigh.

I don't know for whom my heart bleeds more: him or her. He has, fundamentally, lost her, after years of working together intimately, as we do as teachers and students of partner dance. (She continues to take lessons from him -- I wonder why?) She, however, has lost herself. Or perhaps, decided that her exterior self is all there is, and the energy within is not enough, and in fact found herself as a Physical dancer. And that makes me bleed for her.
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ancora imparo
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« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2011, 07:47:26 AM »

Slightly off topic......but...... I've become really interested in the 'Body School' way of teaching/dancing from reading all of the above. I don't suppose anyone would know if there is anyone in Australia (Melbourne if possible) who teaches that way?

Everyone I've encountered here so far is very technical (Physical School?) which is great and I enjoy that but I'd like to try another way...
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elisedance
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« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2011, 09:29:01 PM »

...everyone I've encountered here so far is very technical (Physical School?) ...

hey, I like that as a grouping for the alternatives - I wonder what SG will say...
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
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