"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #222, Thursday, February 9, 2006

Dancing Tid-bits
Expression in Dancing by Hilliers

Initially I thought it was going to be a little drag, talking about "Expression in Dancing" but I must say that it was the most eye opening experience to hear about "Expression" by such renowned teachers as Stephen and Jennifer Hillier.

You might say, what a big deal. Smile and express yourself while dancing. I think that's fine but really "Expression goes way beyond that mundane smile and facial expression. It will not be easy for me to write this Tid-bit on this intangible subject but I will try.

First I must say that this aspect of dancing applies only when we have learned our basic steps such as feet positions, alignments, rise and fall, footwork and so forth. You can perhaps even express yourself without knowing anything but that will be freestyle and that's ok too if you just enjoy moving to music, no matter how wild.

The following terms were used and they are self explanatory.
  1. Body Movement and or Body Language.
  2. Understanding Music and Musicality.
  3. The Joy and Happiness expressed by your Body as a whole, not just facial expression.
  4. Enthusiasm, Passion and Drama etc. etc.
  5. Communication with your partner and the audience.
  6. The Ambience awareness.
Can all this be taught by a teacher? Perhaps the answer is No! However as Mr Hillier says, "If you never say it, they will never understand". So, let's talk a little bit. Perhaps of all the above intangible stuff the most tangible is Body Movement and Musicality. I will just give 2 simple examples that they used last night in their Lecture/Demonstration and group lesson.

2 Walks, Link and a Closed Promenade in Tango: Men! You can add more pizzaz in your second walk on RF by slowing it down further by taking another slow in timing. Of course this will change the timing from 1 slow to 2 slows and I would not recommend that for Syllabus figures dancing in a competition but at an open level that would be fine. The Lady can create more shape with her back as the walk is completed. The Progressive Link then will become more "expressive" by accentuating the first Q (LF for man) and then as the link is finished with the second Q, she may continue to open up her body before we move for Closed Promenade. Closed Promenade will be more exciting if we play with Music depending on its character which can not be described. However if we will slow down on the first slow (LF in PP for Man) and then accentuate the first Q on RF and then move the LF more to side than along LOD (upper body will turn slightly left), the Closed Promenade would look different and it will feel very exciting, more so to the Lady and that is really what counts. Lady will have some options on her head movements which are beyond my scope of discussion.

Open Reverse Turn-Lady outside: Men! Start rotation before the first Q on LF (diagonal center), then go for the 2nd quick RF back down LOD, and as you take the Slow on LF (partner outside), exaggerate the outside position by moving your right side sharply back before you go for a Tango Close. You can even play with the timing and do this as a slow motion by taking an extra slow on the 3rd step LF.

Music: All I will say here is that I try my best to understand music. My personal tragedy is that I did not grow up as a child with western music and many lyrics sound greek to me. When I dance to some hot Indian stuff I feel a different man. But, don't feel sorry for me, living in America I have learned to deal with most adversity, Bye, bye...Max

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