Slow and meaningful

I am always amazed at how fast people dance a lot of songs. I believe this normally stems from lack of dynamics in the dance as well as from the phobia of doing too little. I’d like to talk a bit about what is – for me, a mere humble beginner – the most important technical aspects of a dancer: dynamics and plasticity.

First of all, I felt like writing this post after watching this youtube clip from Virginia Pandolfi and Fabian Peralta. Feel free to watch it before, while you read(!) or after.

Now, what is more obvious to me in this clip is that they’re both taking their time. Fabian is keeping a constant communication – invisible to the more naïve eye – and giving her time to feel the music. Yes, this whole dancing thing is about the music. Now, their dancing is artful to me because while there are slower moments, they’re not really pauses. They’re just full of dynamics, just like in music you can have staccato, portato, marcato, legato, etc. The notes can be the same, but it’s all about how you connect them, how you travel from one to the other, in this case, how you finish a turn or how you resolve – or not – a cross.

In my mind, plasticity is one’s ability to change the quality of the dance in a continuous way. In physics, there are phenomena that are discrete, such as energy layers in atoms: there’s only discrete and determined energy values that electrons can occupy and change between. On the other hand, you can also have much more non-discrete events – or that have the quality of – such as a spring: you can push it more or less depending on how much force you’re aiming for. Plasticity is, then, the quality of being able to work under a wide gamut of dynamic possibilities but – even more importantly – to change between these regimes in a gradual manual.

The more cunning/experienced of you will point out that this stems for the ability of being relaxed, connected to the floor, sensitive to the leader/follower, etc. Yes, all this is true. However, I feel that a lot of dancers are cultivating technical skills without an encompassing goal that puts them together and builds a newer quality. For me, these two are ultimate technical quality/skills to achieve for.

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  1. This reminds me of dancing with Christopher (Nassopoulos, from SF). Just about every time I dance with him, another leader will come up to me afterwards and ask if I actually enjoyed dancing with him, i.e. dancing that slowly. And every time, I give an enthusiastic yes–because Christopher dances every single moment of the music. There is a lot of energy in his dance. And he does let that energy release into quick movements from time to time, which is exciting.

    Thanks for the thoughts and the video–it brought up these memories and reminded me that this is a quality I really look for in leaders!

  2. Thank you for your kind words about Christopher, I'm sure he appreciates it. I look forward to meeting him.

    I guess I have never asked if others ask people I dance with if they enjoyed dancing with me slowly. Now I'm curious… 🙂

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