Let yourself be surprised

As I am getting mentally ready for a weekend full of dancing – can’t say I’m physically ready – I’m inclined to share something that has been in my mind for a while now. It’s a bit long for nowadays’ 30 seconds post standard but it just might be worthwhile. It was definitely worthwhile for me to get it off my mind! Let me know what you think.

I’ve recently started to experience a trend with some of my favorite followers. They do the same mickey mouse moves on certain parts of some songs, over and over. Sometimes they do the exact same little spiel every time we dance to the same song.

I believe this is born out dancing repeatedly to the same songs with leaders that end up doing the same thing they see people do in their scene. Unfortunately, they all end up with the same rhythmic interpretation, if not the exact same steps, syncopated in the same exact way. It gets boring.

This poses two problems for a leader 1) he has a hard time getting away with something different, quiçá, more surprising and tasteful 2) he feels he has to do what they’re expecting him to do thus avoiding the ignorant/not being a cool kid vibe.

The first point is more close to my heart as I believe it can really start to stifle creativity. Early on the dancing career it’s ok one thinks – “she can do her spiel as she really enjoys it” – but after a while it becomes annoying. My mind goes something like this: “I’ve done what you’re expecting me to do lots and lots of times before so can we try something different this time? Trust me, we can even enjoy ourselves just listening to it while pausing. You know what, we are going to be the cool kids because we’ll be different than anyone else!”. You’d be surprised as to how hard it can be just to pause sometimes. It is even harder to explore together new rhythmic interpretations.

As to avoiding the feeling of not being a cool kid it only comes with time and a friendlier community. Normally friendly goes alongside with knowledge, let us remind ourselves. The leader will have normally two reactions from the ladies. The condescending “oh, that’s cute” or the “oh, he’s trying something different, let’s check it out, I may actually like it and broaden my interpretation possibilities (followers do interpret the songs too)”. I know the one I like more.

To this date only one teacher has emphasized the idea of exploring the limits of music interpretation. He had us to try not dancing to the beat at all. It’s not straightforward specially if you’re musically inclined, or so I realized. It was obviously an exercise but one that has a lot of benefits and practical applications. Subtle interpretations of the dance can come out of it so try it out. It’s an extreme but you can slowly then start going towards the beat.

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