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Author Topic: Looking at dancers  (Read 2170 times)
elisedance
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« on: May 26, 2009, 09:35:10 AM »

How do you watch ballroom dancers?  What should/could/shouldn't you observe in order to get the most from their dancing or to detect their flaws as a judge might?

If you are like me you look at dance during competitions, showcases, idly viewing the social scene utubing on your computer.  Some dancers are ranked highly, others never seem to make the grade.  We might be limited by our physical or mental capacities with how far we can go as competitors but we can all judge what we see up to the world championship level Smiley

This topic was inspired by tangodancer's post on dance expression - and the idea that each step is an alternation of dance with dancer - the inbetween bit is unique to each dancer.  I would love more insight as to what should I look at (or sense) when evaluating a couple?
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2009, 10:29:02 AM »

I, too, would be interested in this.  I am trying to look at the dancing with a critical eye, but find that I just enjoy watching too much to employ any type of critique!
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elisedance
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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2009, 11:28:08 AM »

What catches my eye first is the couple that looks relaxed on the floor.  To them the physical part of dancing is natural and easy and they can play with the mental one or just let the dance express....
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cornutt
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2009, 11:50:55 AM »

It depends.  If I'm just idly watching, I tend to use "long view" -- pull back, watch the couple move as a unit.  (If they are apart, e.g. in smooth, my eyes will tend to go with the follower.)  If I'm looking for technique, but not anything specific, I tend to look at them bottom up -- watch the footwork first, then move up and watch the body motion, then move up some more and watch the topline. 
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elisedance
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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2009, 12:02:08 PM »

interesting - I suppose most people start either bottom up, top down or 'gestalt'.  I think I'm the latter though I'm always astonished how much I learn if I just look at the feet.
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catsmeow
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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2009, 08:50:28 PM »

I agree with you ED re the feet. Tidy, knowledgeable feet make me want to look up. But, alas, as beautiful as the women are, I always watch the man. A magnificent head combined with a strong unyielding yet flexible frame commands my attention.  I am a male cat.
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cornutt
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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2009, 09:41:20 PM »

That's funny.  I was convinced that I was doing it wrong.  I was waiting for someone to replay saying "Never look at the feet first, you idiot!"   Cheesy
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skipper
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2009, 12:03:50 AM »

The way I look is very different today than when I was a "baby" dancer. My progression has been:

ladies dress/ hair/ make-up

the movement / foot work / choreography

Now I tend to look at the dynamics and energy between the couple
use of space and floorcraft

At different times I might make note of things I am working on. always being aware of the different schools of thought and which school each couple is using.
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Rugby
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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2009, 01:45:23 AM »

The first thing I look at are the women.  I watch how they use their bodies and react to their partners to express themselves and the music.  I then look at how the couple work together and how they react off each other.  It is interesting how the man creates something, the woman takes it and expresses back upon which he takes what she gave him and creates something new.  It's like a conversation.  I then watch the menand after that the ladies makeup and outfits.

I too am really into watching the feet and use of the back, it tells me alot about the dancer.     
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2009, 03:35:54 AM »

Depending on what my purpose for looking is (judging, coaching looking for technical issues, coaching looting at whole package, coaching looking for things to do to advance to better result (next round or higher placement), looking for trends, looking for indentifying style, looking for technical issues, looking to be entertained, looking to relax, looking for things for a write up and looking with students to open their eyes) but more then anywhere else, I will look at the lower back first. That area will tell me the most accurate information on all issues. It will tell me if the top line and the feet are doing what they are supposed to do. I don’t want to ever see feet. If I do see the feet it is because of bad foot work Shocked. If I am judging and I notice your feet don’t expect a good mark from me. If my attention has gone there I am now looking for a mistake and it is only really a matter of time until I find one. I always tell my students the same as all my teachers told me (no matter what School of Thought they were) “keep my eyes off your feet”.

I will often give students specific things to look for when they either watch film, pictures or live dancing. I must say it can probable be counted on one hand how many time I tell my student to look at feet, if ever.

Sorry, if this doesn’t match what others has said. Huh I just do it the way that I was taught and it seems to work for me, my teacher and my students.

Dora-Satya Veda
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elisedance
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« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2009, 07:09:14 AM »

how interesting - lower back!  I suppose you are following the cores then?  How the body moves through space, if it is smooth effortles and uninterupted or if there are any signs of jerkyness.

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QPO
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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2009, 08:22:46 AM »

Our teacher always says that we have to stay on our rail line...If he was judging he would stand at the end and watch if you zig zag across across the floor then he knows that you are not doing your steps properly so there was no need to watch the feed.
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« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2009, 01:53:09 PM »

My instructor has me focus on the lower back, not the small of my back, as that is where my topline should originate. 
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Rugby
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« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2009, 02:16:13 PM »

I think watching the feet is because the beautiful footwork and the use of the floor through the feet is very interesting.  I have watched people in championship who are are flash with no substance.  If you look up top the face arms etc. are great in their presentation and really wow the crowd but the feet are all over the floor or worse yet, come off the floor in a simple basic, showing me they have not the balance they should, nor are they using the floor.  After that they can be as fancy and as fast as they want but its just all fluff and I've already looked passed them.  The back shows me how they are using their body, especially in latin.  Are they using their back and body core for movement and stability.  
« Last Edit: May 27, 2009, 02:19:22 PM by Rugby » Logged

Everyone tries to rush up through the syllabus levles and think once they are at the top they have arrived.  What they don't realize is that by doing this it is like skimming through a book, you may get the gist but you will never understand the story.
emeralddancer
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« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2009, 04:17:51 PM »

Depending on what my purpose for looking is (judging, coaching looking for technical issues, coaching looting at whole package, coaching looking for things to do to advance to better result (next round or higher placement), looking for trends, looking for indentifying style, looking for technical issues, looking to be entertained, looking to relax, looking for things for a write up and looking with students to open their eyes) but more then anywhere else, I will look at the lower back first. That area will tell me the most accurate information on all issues. It will tell me if the top line and the feet are doing what they are supposed to do. I don’t want to ever see feet. If I do see the feet it is because of bad foot work Shocked. If I am judging and I notice your feet don’t expect a good mark from me. If my attention has gone there I am now looking for a mistake and it is only really a matter of time until I find one. I always tell my students the same as all my teachers told me (no matter what School of Thought they were) “keep my eyes off your feet”.

I will often give students specific things to look for when they either watch film, pictures or live dancing. I must say it can probable be counted on one hand how many time I tell my student to look at feet, if ever.

Sorry, if this doesn’t match what others has said. Huh I just do it the way that I was taught and it seems to work for me, my teacher and my students.

Dora-Satya Veda

DSV you just stated almost exactly what my coach says many judges look at ... just a different way of putting it. WOW when he said it, it surprised me. Now I am just wow. amazing.
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