What dance teachers (at least this one) think, feel, etc
It is the season for choreography. Teachers are behind the scenes listening to the same songs on repeat, dancing in the car/ shower/ while vacuuming/ eating/ sleeping. The sheer amount of choreography to be done to get to competition and recital is daunting. So what do we fill dances with?! The dancers and audience seem to be screaming for TRICKS. So why aren't our dances full of long turn combinations into flips and death defying contortion?
To address this, we first must define technique and trick in the dance world.
TECHNIQUE- The proper movement of the body through dance. It requires engaging muscles in a specific method from head to toe to fingertip, in a predetermined uniform way. Ballet technique (there are many styles of this genre) is the mostly widely recognized style and the ballet class is best for technical development.
TRICK- A dance movement that causes shock and awe to the audience. Good examples of this would be movements like flips, group lifts and spinning on your head.
So if the audience loves tricks, why is that not what we primarily do? Let's break it down by style.
Ballet is a set style that has evolved but still clung to it's roots for hundreds of years. Preserving the art of ballet is very important to dance culture, and adding tricks into this would compromise the style that has been the foundation for modern dance in the states. There are set lifts for ballet partners that do not qualify as a 'trick' in this example.
Modern/ Contemporary is an offshoot of ballet. Dancers, sick of the rigidity needed to dance a traditional piece, created a new style of technique based on ballet. There are clear ballet undertones while TRICKS are accepted, and in contemporary expected. This style is still meant to evoke a feeling, tell a story and move an audience. While an audience will be shocked by tricks, it will not move them to tears. The technique, movement and performance quality does.
Acrobatics- This style is a set technique all its own. While it may be compromised of 'tricks' to the audience, dancers know that the tricks in other styles are techniques borrowed from acrobatics. Acro is a beautiful mix of contortion, tumbling and dance.
So why are the dancers learning technique for the fall before we move on to choreography and tricks? Technique for all styles is the foundation of a dancer. Hip hop has a technique all its own, just as ballet does. The dancers will study and learn to move in the proper technical way, gaining strength and knowledge to later help them execute the tricks in a safer way.
There is a method to the madness of teaching anything, and starting with one block at a time is the only way to build a successful dancer. Teachers know that the dancers want to learn everything new and exciting from day 1, we do too! But learning the proper technique is the most important thing a dancer can do.
So do that barre work with pride! Know that with each kick across the floor you are improving, growing and becoming a better dancer.
Watching students grow and thrive is the best feeling a teacher can ever have. So give it your all, dance as much and possible and LOVE your technique class.