Dancemax Letter # 23, Thursday, November 2, 2000

Dancing Tid-bits
Light and Shade

For today's letter our guest editor is Sandy Hider. Sandy's letter, let's read:

From: (Sandy Hider)

I have run across your Tid-bits on and I love them. I was wondering if you would talk about two concepts that I am having trouble with.

1) What is Light and Shade? I have seen this mentioned a few times

2) How to work on Swinging correctly in the Standard Dances? I just can't seem to figure out how to use the supporting foot longer and keep my hips over my legs. I've spent many a private lesson on this subject.

Thanks and keep up the good work!

Sandy from Maryland, USA

Well, First of all I thought Sandy was a girl but it turns out that Sandy is a guy (in his own words),..right Sandy? I appreciate the letter Sandy! You bring up some very good discussion points. Today, let us confine ourselves to the following:

What is Light and Shade?

Light and Shade in Dancing: There are few things in life that are given to us by nature. As you are born, suddenly there is Light, and then come Day and Night. In other words Light and Shade with their own nuances is an everyday occurrence in real life. In Dancing World, I heard this term, o' about 5-6 years ago when I bought some of Mr. Geoffrey Hearne's (not Tommy Hearnes) Videos. I believe this is a non standard but creative terminology that is self expressive. I would like to know who introduced the term for the first time, could it have been the Hiltons? The term may be interpreted differently by different people. We have to go beyond the term itself and see what one is trying to say.
  1. Musicality and Expression: There is light and shade in music. If you listen to waltz music for example you can see Highs and Lows in eight bars and then perhaps from one phrase to the other, like a story where there are "highlights" and "subdudeness" etc. A dancer interprets this story to express in his dancing which could be one form of light and shade.
  2. Choreography: More exotic figures bring Light and more subdued figures, Shade. For example a whisk and chasse could be light and a hesitation change a shade (too simplistic). It is all relative. Of course the dancer can make light with the shade and vice versa by his movement and expression.
  3. Timing and Speed: shall we say syncopated timings and speed of action may be expression of light and slower movements shade?
  4. Styling: Exotic Hand and Head movements with ripples of body specially in Latin may create Light and so on.
  5. Individuality: I would think most important will be the feelings exuded from a dancers body and the body language. Give me some light now, and now some shade.
I would think that some or all of the above ingredients when put together with artistry will create Light and Shade. I think Dr. Ruud Vermeij will be the right person to shed some more light on this shady subject.

Announcement: Clive Phillips (yes, the Aussie from New York) will be teaching group class on Saturday the 4th Nov, at Dance Avenue in Dearborn, Michigan 12pm International Rumba and 1 pm International Tango. Looking Forward.

Questions and comments to, thank you.

This article is part of and should be seen in the frame context of Dancesport UK, Tid-bits