The Most Beautiful and Elusive Part of Dance.....
Many of you have heard me say in classes, workshops, and seminars, quotes that have come to be known as "Angelisms". Some of you have even enjoyed the Angelism notebooks which give you insights into these sayings in easy-to-read and fun short paragraphs whenever you wish. If you are of these fortunate persons, you have already finished the title of this writing. If you are of the fortunate few whom have studied and applied its meanings, you have come to know dance in a totally different light. Congratulations.
"The most beautiful and elusive part of the dance is the movement within the stillness".
Of all of the Angelisms, this is my favorite. Far too often, we think of dance as simply all movement put to music. This misnomer, or misconception, has been made more popular by our language. We say things like, "...the dance of the daffodils..." or "...he danced over the hot coals...", etc. Of course, we don't literally mean 'dance', but common daily usage has given us this concession. Dancers, however, should be more profound in their understandings. The French School (methode) of Ballet, still considered to be the basis for all ballet, stresses form and fluidity over technique, and it is from this that modern Ballroom, Latin, and DanceKinesis offer us the definition that dance is "...natural movement put to a specific rhythm, timing, and styling..." The oxymoron of this is my personal belief that ballet, though a very useful and powerful art form and sport, is not dance...a belief that has gotten me frowned upon more times than I care to count, and will probably never be believed by the masses. Thanks again, in large part, to common usage.
Nonetheless, dance is first and foremost movement. Here is where we need to begin. The movement of a dance is not simply the steps from A to B, It is, rather; the movement of the body (forward, back, side, up, down) in between the steps, the life of the movement (breath of the body; in - out), in between and over the steps, and the most often forgotten, intent of the entirety of the movement from start to finish that, collectively result and/or finish with a step. It was not that the original French School of Ballet did not find technique important. It simply realized that dance is made up of two parts; natural movement and technical movement, and that natural movement had to come first. Becoming too concerned with technique over natural movement brings to mind another saying that is not DanceKinesis, ...paralysis by analysis. Unfortunately, far too many of us are stuck in this place.
When we read a novel, or watch a movie on television, it is easy to understand that the story doesn't begin at the "Once upon a time....." The characters had lives and experiences that brought them to the place and point where we are joining them. We then share in their lives for the next 300 pages or 2 - 3 hours before reaching "The End". Yet, it isn't the end for the characters in the book or film. They, "...lived happily ever after...", or however the story projected after we, the reader or viewer, had finished. Such as it is with dance.
One takes a left foot forward walk (heel-toe). The body, the feet, the legs, the head, the breath, all were in full motion long before the step was initiated. This movement continues after the left foot walk is completed, and in-between the step, and following to the right foot walk, long before the right foot walk is taken. More often than not, it is this movement between the steps that form the impetus for taking the next step. It is important to remember that dance is movement placed to rhythm, timing, and styling, and when we change either of those elements, we alter the movement which ultimately affects the dance. It is not the step that we have changed; it is the movement or manner in which we arrived at the step/s.
We think nothing of marveling at a singer when they sustain a note. In fact, the longer they hold it, the more exciting and feeling provoking it seems to be. Why then, is it so difficult to see how holding a movement within a dance would have the same appeal? Do we not know and understand what is meant by the sound of silence? Why then, is it so difficult to understand this natural law of opposites, and see movement even when projection stops?
"Dance is not steps; it's what happens between the steps" is another of the "Angelisms" in our DanceKinesis training. It simply means that the feet are not the important part of the movement. They are simply expected to be where they need to be as we move the body from place to place. As in natural walking, they are not intentionally placed firstly to be followed by the body. The beauty of the dance is in how the body moves. The French School of Ballet understood this a century past. Modern learning has taken us just a bit further to delve a little bit deeper into the movement, and understand that the dance is movement, and movement does not stop... even in the stillness.