Is It Art?
& Dan Finch
The great debate over the past
decade has been whether
dancing is an art or a sport. It might be better to ask how much of it
A pre-schooler dabbling in
water colors isn’t making art (as
much as a mess) because he doesn’t have a knowledge of basic skills
into composition, shading, and the other aspects of good art. Likewise,
want to see ourselves as beautiful dancers (read “artful”) but before
there has to be a reckoning with some basic laws of physics.
Forgetting the principle of
three-dimensional space causes
most of the problems we see in coaching. If either partner only dances
body, he is thinking two dimensionally. Dancing involves rotation and
to work, the partnership must figure out how to get both its front half
(partner) and back half (leader) through the step.
Imagine driving a car around
the corner. The driver has to
calculate how sharp the turn is and the size of the car. Picture one of
old Cadillac Eldorados, with the hood that seemed to go on forever. The
dynamics of driving it through the turn are different than for a VW
the driver practically sits on top of the front bumper.
In other words, when we dance,
the length of our “vehicle”
is the space from the leader’s spine to the partner’s spine. In dance
either partner may only be thinking about the figure and what he or she
but both partners have to coordinate to get through that figure.
We have all seen a feather
finish that ended with partners
hip to hip. A closed telemark where the partner feels like she’s being
strangled. A natural twist turn when the leader doesn’t time his unwind
his partner’s run-around. A maneuver where partner gets to the end
To fix this, you need to start
with a solid frame, with
elbows slightly in front of the body. Next, imagine pushing a shopping
through the turn. You need to recognize there are insides and outsides
turn. One partner will have to travel further than the other. What
the amount of turn is how far the leader goes past his partner. The
going forward has the bigger step.
We can practice this by dancing
solo holding a chair in
front of us or just extending our arms in front, to see the form that
moved through space. It will then be obvious that “dancing is not about
it’s about us.”
newsletters prepared by an
and Sandi Finch , February 2015, and
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, September 2016.
If you would like to read other articles on dance
position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit
the article TOC.
If you are not a member of DRDC,
do consider joining. The group sponsors triquarterly weekends with
dancing and teaching, and the newsletter is one of the most informative
Past DRDC Educational Articles archived
Aditional articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
& Susie Rotscheid
Go beyond this site. Find other references on our Sources and Links