Notes or music?
Photo or Art?
3-D rendering or Sculpture?
I went to a dance contest today. It made my teeth itch. There were several different dance schools present, but you could tell if they were from the same studio. How? Same steps– different music. Move to a place on the stage, do a hip wiggle, turn around do a butt wiggle. Move to another place, do an acrobatic element (Split jump, a standing leg extension with hand on the foot. Smile until your cheeks hurt then make a face at the audience. (These varied…a smooch, a growl, curious, flirt) Roll on the floor. Put your legs up and pose. Move to another part of the stage, do arm movements and a pose. This is NOT dancing– Just like sound bites are not speeches. I counted at least 7 entrants who used exactly the same steps, the footwork was like watching a gymnast walk across the stage, and pose before doing her next run.
So the choreography was bad. But maybe these dancers were being judged according to technique. They all had floppy feet so the toes weren’t pointed. Their arms were not expressive, in fact, at least 1/3 of the dancers didn’t know what to do with them when their feet were moving. Head movements were connected to arm choreography and were non-existent in between poses. Execution of the arabesques and turns (chaine, pique, fouette, and pirouette) were lopsided and badly concluded. The duets that I saw were “wait until I’m ready, ok, now what was that step we were supposed to do together?”
So the students were doing steps (badly) and the choreographer chose steps to fill beats (badly). The movement did not fit the song! Smooth, connected, and ethereal music had jumps, leaps, and acrobatic moves. The syncopated, hard-driving rhythms had the same jumps, leaps, and acrobatic moves, accompanied by shimmies and poses, and most were repeated for each new set of dancers and every different song. SMH. Their explanation? There’s a limited number of steps. In what universe?
Dance is the interpretation of the sound and the feeling in the music. It is the visual part of the music that drives the ideas and the emotion of the music straight into the souls of the audience members. If you’re a dancer, the movement, expression, and emotion come from deep within you. It doesn’t come from a list of steps you memorize!
I saw 3 soloists who knew that. Three. One you could tell the music meant something to her, but her technique was lacking. Another was very expressive and the steps flowed from one to another, but I didn’t get a sense that she was into the music. Another looked scared, and though she was well-trained and loved the music, she didn’t get lost in it, and it came across as nervousness. They were dancing. The rest were showing off costumes and tricks, and to tell you the truth, they looked like they were auditioning for a cheerleading 1/2-time show or elementary pole dancing.
How does this apply? Dancing is a visible passion. Music is an audible passion, but you can observe passion in sports, in art, in business, in learning… Passion is what takes us beyond ourselves and into the universe. We get lost in it! It consumes us!
How much passion do you exhibit in your business, in your hobbies, and in your learning? If you’re a teacher, passion should be present the whole time you spend with your students. They should see your eyes light up when you talk about things. They should see a genuine laugh and authentic enjoyment when you read Dr. Seuss’s books out loud. They should see the delight on your face when learning a new math concept. Those who show a passion for life are never bored, and they can never stop being curious! What a marvelous way of life!