Dance Beat has published some of their articles in the past, but the current pandemic situation has prevented the body from meeting over the past year. They are now resuming meetings on the Zoom platform and have also published some personal thoughts from some of their members. We bring you the first of these below.
A personal view………………..
By Michael Barr
Specifically, in DANCE, technique underpins everything we do. To start with we have the written technique of Ballroom & Latin American Dancing and this forms the foundation from which we may develop. The written technique must be understood and practiced until it becomes part of our DNA and only then can we progress to the more advanced techniques which may, with talent, enable us to become first class exponents.
Ballroom Dancing should be made to look relatively EASY & NATURAL, and above all MUSICAL, and this is only possible with great efficiency. It is technique in its broader sense that gives us efficiency and makes ease of movement possible.
So to summarize, the bedrock of Ballroom & Latin American Dancing is the written technique, it is a launch pad from which to develop first class dancing, it is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end.
Dancing must continually develop, and I would encourage all aspiring dancers to embrace and enjoy this wonderful journey of discovery.
What Technique Means to Me
By Kenny Welsh
Primarily, technique is the corner stone of our art form! In the earlier days of my competitive ballroom dancing career, my enthusiasm was for clever choreography; what I considered to be fabulous musical interpretation and having dynamic energy. Learning the technique of my art form was very boring and illogical. I only persevered with it because my teacher kept telling me that I must have controlled rise and fall and close my feet beautifully. When I looked at the great champions of the day, Amateur and Professional, they always looked effortless with their technique, movement and performance. It was only later that I realized that the importance of technique and skill was the tool required for what I would now call “Natural looking movement.”
For me this was the beginning of in depth study in all aspects relating to dance.
An excerpt from notation of the late great Len Scrivener:
“There is a scientific aspect that surrounds dancing as regards principles involving the use of human anatomy and their relationship with the scientific theories that form the principles of dynamics and kinetics. Like a painter who is free to paint more-or-less how he feels like, there remain certain fundamental techniques that need to be retained in any particular style if the finished product is to become genuinely accepted at the highest levels.”
For me there has to be a logical reason as to why we need to practice the techniques required. Let us consider the use of legs and feet: Why do we have rise and fall, why do we have no rise and fall? In my opinion each dance has certain characteristics, these characteristics are relating to the style of music being orchestrated. The Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot and Quickstep have a resonance of swing within their musical structure. What makes them different to each other can be tempo, beat value, and also the interpretation of whether the swing goes up, or down, or around? The use of legs and feet in regards to rise and fall require study and practice to acquire the quality of that characterization. The Tango has a totally different characteristic; accent is considered staccato within the music, and this requires another approach of technique with no rise and fall.
How can technique be applied more competitively: To be able to move two bodies across the floor with seemingly natural ease, yet still have power that apparently comes from thin air? In my opinion, physically muscular use of the legs and feet are not enough. Instead, I believe analysis of principles such as gravity will help the logical conclusion applied to the technique. We are all similar in our leg movements, hip, knee, ankle and ball joints but the reasoning behind how these joints work and where the energy comes from requires further study. e.g. Principles of Dynamics and Kinetics. My feeling to all who have a vocation in our world of dance would be advised in the main to comply with technique principles.
I love quotes; here is another by Rudolf Nureyev:
“Technique is what you fall back on when you run out of inspiration.”
My conclusion on our technique is similar to that in music. There are eight basic notes of music to which we must understand the principal of each before they can be manipulated.
To quote a music teacher of mine many years ago:
“One can never play a wrong note of music,” (it is the interpretation of the musician).
However, if it does not please the ear, then that musician will have no acclaim and starve! Can it be argued that our book of technique is relatively simple and similar? One can never have the wrong footwork! BUT A competitive or non-competitive dancer must be aware; the finished product should become genuinely accepted at the highest levels. Who or what are the highest levels? Dancers who have been there and done it, spent most of their professional life understanding all of the principles, and in certain cases they will be the ones who are required to keep the techniques abreast with current fashion in dance movements. Be aware; change is not just to be different!
We are highly unlikely to develop our art form without the control of our technique. My thought is if the technique is logical then the intention of style and type of movement is clear.
I would like to finish with a quote by John Kimmins used in a lecture organized by the BDF at the British Open Championships:
“If we are correct in thinking that, what you see in your mind and what the world sees is called ART, then technique and skill are the bridge that connect those values!”
To read more articles from the B.A.S.E. group, visit their FaceBook Page