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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Weeding out Quirky Movement Patterns


notyourcrayon

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I just got back from a regional summer intensive in Minnesota, and I've just viewed the video of our showcase. I have noticed in this and other videos that I have a quirky movement pattern that is subtle, yet takes away from the maturity of my dancing across the board. Ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz-- it hangs around. It's not that anything glaringly posture or technique-based is wrong or performed poorly, it's just... my movement pattern. It's like when you get the same latte you usually get at a coffee shop that usually has great coffee, but this latte is only okay-- nothing's perceptively wrong with it, but the flavor is ever so slightly... off. :thumbsup:

 

 

I have three questions about this conundrum that may or may not be answerable:

1.) Is this typical? Do most dancers have a unique movement pattern that they struggle to keep in check as they become more mature as dancers?

2.) Is it something that can seem augmented just because "you're your own worst critic?"

3.) If it's the case that I really do have a quirky way of moving, at my age (22) is that movement pattern likely so ingrained that it'll be impossible to eradicate?

 

Things you may need to know:

1.) I'm a late starter, but I have taken pretty naturally to all the dance forms I've tried (less so ballet because of anatomical deficiencies)

2.) Although I'm most concerned about how it affects my ballet, I'm aiming to audition for regional contemporary/modern companies in the next year or two. I'd like to nip this in the bud so I don't have problems with keeping the integrity of the choreography at auditions.

3.) I'm shortish (5'3''), and have more of a gymnast's build (X lbs, muscular)-- maybe this could be a source?

4.) I don't expect miracle answers since you have no way of seeing me. I just figured asking was worth a shot. :sweating:

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What you are describing sounds like it could be a rush to get past linking steps to get to the poses and more difficult work, along with not completing movements entirely. And yes, that is something that is seen with dancers who are less experienced, and yes, it could also be that you are your own worst critic!!

 

Since I can't see you, watch your tape again looking at the linking movements: pas de boureé, chassé, glissade, etc. (the stuff in between the other stuff!) and watch your port de bras, épaulement, head and eye focus, the fine-tuning elements, and see what you think. Check your timing- are you slicing through beats or are you accenting the movement? Kind of like when you talk- if you talk in a monotone voice as opposed to using inflection, you'll still get your point across but it won't be as interesting.

 

Are you lengthening your lines and squeezing every last delicious beat out of the music, or are you more worried about "getting there" so the texture is lost?

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I just re-watched all of the pieces very closely with what you said in mind, and YES, now that I'm looking for what you pointed out, I think you are right.

 

While I do have okay timing, and I try to add texture, I think there are a couple things that go along with me trying too hard on those two things:

First, I tend to wait if I feel like I'm falling off the beat, instead of "squeezing" the last bit out of the previous movement... especially on walks and runs I'll occasionally appear as though my movement is hesitated instead of deliberate if I've come off whatever comes first too early (usually a turn or an arabesque/attitude-- working on balance will help with this one).

Second, while trying to add texture, I've done a bit of a variation on what you suggested! I have focused too much on adding flavor to the poses and big moves, and forgotten completely about adding a little something something to the in between. I tend not to plie as much! On smaller jumps between the big ones that I'm more excited for, there's practically no level change at all! Instead of having that buoyant quality, I'm rushing and haven't taken the time to plie.

And the most important thing that your suggestion helped me realize was this: Focus. In moments when I'm not supposed to be looking right at the audience (or mirror), my head is turned away, but I am not LOOKing anywhere! And that was that little thing that was slightly off.

 

Without even seeing me or working with me, I think you've changed my dancing forever. Thank-you so so much. :)

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Thank you, but really it will be you who changes how you dance forever!!!!!!!! :)

 

I think learning how to watch yourself on tape without ripping yourself apart but with an objective eye is an important skill to master.

 

Now get yourself into a studio & work on those same variations until you love them!!! :wacko:

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