Oh but there are rules. There are lots of rules. And I’m not saying there shouldn’t be. Dance is set to music so timing is necessary. You have two people trying to move as one and that becomes easier if you have the solid frame and connection and understand some of the principles of leading and following. Momentum requires heel leads in places. Some of the things (like bent or soft knees in places) are designed to minimize the wear and tear on the body.
But dance is also supposed to be an art form. Sometimes I watch competitions and you see everyone looks almost the same. Where is there room for individuality and creative expression. How do you put “you” in the dance when there is so much that is controlled and defined. It seems true that the more technique you master, the easier the dance becomes and maybe the better it looks. Is that really putting “you” in the dance though.
To come up with what may be a bad analogy, I sometimes can see ballroom dance as a sport like figure skating. I could imagine a short program where the couple stays in frame and everyone has certain steps or figures that must be done. The focus there would be on the technical merit. How well have you learned the basics? There would need to be a long program which would be more free with the choreography although probably still requiring some steps at a minimum. You could get scores for technical merit but there would also be an artistic component.
In that version of my world, I think certain dances would just lend themselves to that approach. All of the smooth dances – Waltz, Fox Trot, Tango and Viennese Waltz for sure. I would also toss Rumba and Bolero into the mix. With Cha-Cha, it starts to get a bit hazy. Yes, there is technique and yes it is important but, to me, it starts to become more about capturing the feel of the dance.
Get into Swing (East or West Coast) and dances like Salsa and Mambo and Hustle and then it just feels like my “short program” would just be boring and nobody would watch. I mean did you really care what steps Travolta was doing in Saturday Night Fever? Waltz can be fun but Mambo was meant to be fun. It just requires a different mind set. Just to reiterate, I’m not saying the rule book goes out the window but the focus seems like it should be more on how the dance feels and moves.
To be fair, I sometimes think that about all the dances. It is just that as we approach the next Showcase, I’m thinking differently about some of the dances. Oh I want all the feedback on the smooth dances but I kind of don’t care as much about what they say about the Hustle. I’m not looking to be technically perfect. I’m just looking to enjoy the music and have fun moving to it.
I suppose this doesn’t make a lot of sense but I’ve just got dances I would love to go out and freestyle and not worry about learning steps or following a syllabus. The dilemma is that you need to know a few things to be able to do that and it is hard for me to get to a comfort level of just going without a grouping. For other dances, I’m fine with following a defined pattern so I can try to focus more on the technical stuff.
And I still try to think about how to put more of “me” into all of them.