In anticipation of my article requested by the WDC Education Department I have read the many interesting comments posted on the site with interest, amazement and sometimes shock. Mary subjects have been approached, namely technique, Touch teaching, opinions on teaching methods and other associated statements such as elements of dance and competition is bad for motivation. I cannot agree with the last statement for in my own case it was the excitement of competition that made my wife and I work to perfect the fundamentals and therefore pursue our goals to reach the top.
After digesting the many theories that have been raised I have come to the decision that competitive dancing for some is becoming to scientific and the old and tried methods that produced many of the all time greats of the past is being pushed aside even forgotten.
Perhaps the reader may think I am old fashioned, I am not and I have enjoyed seeing dancing develop to the heights we enjoy watching today, but I am a traditionalist when it comes to techniques, artistic performance and the beauty of musical movement.
I have seen every champion since 1949 up to the present day and have marvelled at their prowess, in my opinion the best era was the 1980′s through the 90′s the names that come to mind as the best examples Barr, Hillier,Wood, Wesseltherhorn, Sinkinson, Hilton and Baricchi.
It is interesting to note they all came through the juvenile/junior ranks where basic fundamentals were of paramount importance, not that previous champions did not go through this important phase. What made these unbeatable qualities was an untiring devotion to the techniques which enabled them to create fabulous feet, leg and body lines, effortless movement that was an integral part of the music, they moved like the wind an invisible energy, all this plus an individual electric personality that gripped audiences and gave the adjudicators many headaches in deciding who was to be the best on the day.
They also put great faith in their chosen coaches and worked as a team combining the endless information that was available from truly professional people who had studied their profession in depth and held it in great esteern, in other words they felt it was an obligation to the further development of competitive dancing.
It is diffrcult to nominate one particular item being more important than the other, so lets be sensible and commence with——
CORRECT POSTURE & DEPORTMENT. That means keeping the body in a natural position. The strength should be felt within, muscular toning is required definitely not expansion especially the rib cage. There should not be any visible tension in the backs, necks or arms. The arms supported naturally with the elbows slightly lower and in front of the shoulder joint .Lady’s poise should develop from the ball of the foot with a gracefi.rl spiral curve into the mans right arm. Remember, for both man and hdy, shoulders over hips over feet. Do not distort the natural curves to create a “big toy”
TECHNIQUE: The common denominator for all types of dance styles. Ballroom,latin american, ballet, tap, flamenco etc. All disciplines must have a basic technique. Apart from giving the dancer a platform to develop from it encourages the individual to master the more advanced movements at alater stage. Teachers/coaches should be insistent on the production of correct techniques regardless of other themes that they may be working on in lessons. If this method is maintained pupils will benefit greatly. Under the heading of footwork for example we must make pupils aware that it includes foot pressure and foot styling, which in turn will improve every quality a dancer works so hard for.
RHYTHM: The regular occrrrence of the accented beat, meaning the orchestra will hopefully not deviate from this pattern when playing the different tempos of the test dances. It is as in our dance technique the common denominator and keeps all the sections of the orchestra playing the chosen tune and arangement together within a bar of music. The dancer must of course be fully aware of the rhythm as this is the basic timing of the dance.
The test dances as we know them today were designed to fit the music and therefore most of our basic figures created by our pioneers enhanced the character of the music.
MUSICALITY: the crowning glory. The perfection of all the basic fundamentals in perfect harmony with the music. This department can separate the champions from the others. The ultimate quality of musicality is in many cases a natural built in luxury, these lucky dancers hear the music the same as any of their fellow competitors but the big difference is they LISTEN TO IT and in turn learn to play with the music, which means they can extend or hold abeat almost to long and with an effortless reflex of body speed using an”&” count for example will catch up with the next beat of music. Above all these exponents will make the audience or more importantly the adjudicator feel the melody of the music being played. I often remind pupils that when they are competing the adjudicator is listening to the same music as they are dancing to and what he sees and hears should trigger an emotional moment together.
I love to feel the dancers are surfing on the music they hear it coming absorb it into the bodies and then follow it together into the next bar of music producing a seamless action All too often today many couples are basically in time but racing the music around the floor in the effort to move.
Source: Education Department WDC&AL – open group on facebook