Have you ever wondered why some dancers flow like honey, and others can strike with precision? Dancers who seem like they are made of jello are in fact holding on to everything; and conversely, dancers who can hit moves with power and precision, are really good at letting go. How does this work? If you think about it, we can never become effective at striking movements with power if we cannot take risks and throw our energy 'outwards'. But inhabiting movement, holding on to energy, also takes commitment and trust. It is this sustained embodiment that that creates movement that ripples, swarms, lingers. So next time you try to become more fierce in your dance, practise letting go. And if you want to melt with boneless movement, practise holding on.
More and more we see dancers who are trained in a multitude of genres. But how do we meld those styles without looking like a mish-mash? Here are some lessons I've learnt along the way...
1. Be clear on your inspiration. When dancing within a genre, it is ok to make the music your inspiration. But when melding genres, the music is not enough. You need a theme or a story that infuses the whole dance.
2. Let one genre dominate the others. Each genre has its principles and rules. For example in contemporary dance, we are trying to use impetus and natural momentum as much as possible. It is ok to subvert or deconstruct a genre by breaking those rules or contrasting it with another style. But this works more effectively when one genre has been well established first.
3. When you do bring in your other genres, do it with commitment. Bring in their spirit. Bring them to life. Even if it is fleeting, let the audience know that your soul speaks different languages and tongues, not just your limbs. Consider what 'voice' these different genres bring to your piece. Having different voices emerge in our dance gives it textual richness.
4. Use an intuitive choreography process (mine involves filming lots of improvisation to the chosen song), not just a cerebral process. Sometimes the feeling of music demands something very different to its purported rhythm, tempo or melody. Your intuitive self can imagine seamless transitions between styles as an authentic expression of you.
5. Keep at it. It can be a very challenging and disheartening creative process full of "where is this going?" - don't let that stop you. Keep going. Just keep going.
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