The essence of dance
Long before five, six, seven, eight ...
One or two things to know, and three, four questions.
The essence of dance, natural or cultural?
I have always wondered why a child, who can barely walk, dances instinctively when he hears music. As if this flame was in him, and therefore in each of us.
Of course we come into the world with preexisting traits, in terms of behavior or personality, certainly linked to our genetic heritage. But where does this mysterious, inexplicable, magical desire for a baby to waddle on the rhythm of music come from? Is it about transcendence? The role of the “innate” is certain, because at that age it would be premature to speak of the “acquired”.
Faced with this spontaneity, we can only be amazed. It is not the technique but the fact that we realize that the infant is not indifferent to music, that his body interacts with it. Whether he beats the measure with his head or swings from left to right, we realize that innocently and spontaneously, he dances! So, long before the influence of any cultural milieu, it seems that dance is as natural, at that age, as breathing. One is vital, but the other will become for many of us a reason to live.
As Rudolph Laban, a Hungarian dance choreographer rightly said, « Every human being carries within him a dancer. »
Why does this magic disappear?
The child improves his walking, he even tries to run, basically he grows. As time goes by, he becomes aware of the world around him. He goes to school, rubs shoulders with his classmates, plays carefree. The more he grows, the more he is aware of the eyes of others. It is not only in quantum physics that the gaze influences particle behavior. In our world too.
The way others look at us greatly influences our way of being and acting. Because of this, during the period of adolescence, one adopts a less spontaneous attitude, more thoughtful, sometimes even calculated. The opposite of dance.
This fear of judgment hinders us and is responsible, among other things, for timidity. Some are relatively comfortable in a group, others much less. Public speaking seems impossible, stress making one lose control. Reserved, introverted, withdrawn, silent, all these adjectives only exist because of the fear of the way others see us. However, paradoxically, it is group activities such as sport, theater or dance that help most in freeing us from this fear. Through these activities and the contact with others, self-confidence increases. Throughout my career as a dancer and teacher, I have seen metamorphosis in children, teenagers, even adults. In reality, the term "metamorphosis" is not entirely correct, because most of these people become in public what they are in private : natural! Through dance, they reveal their true personalities. And for the most introverted of them, the discovery of an unrevealed potential! This potential allows them to break free like never before. A true liberation!
How others see me is none of my concern!
Being unobserved gives way to the sincerity of the movement. In our own bedroom we all feel like we are the best dancer ! School or work day over, weekday evening or weekend, we search our playlist for the song on which to express ourselves or simply to let off some steam.
No need to warm up, hurry! Desire and impatience inhabit us. Let's go, Press the play button!
With no one watching, the sound penetrates our ears, our body, our spirit. Hearing is the king of the senses for the dancer. No need for a mirror, our steps and movements seem entirely orchestrated by the maestro “Phone”. Magic operates! Our body connects quickly and naturally with the music. It may seem trivial, unimportant, but it is just the opposite. We express ourselves in the most sincere way. No matter what movements we make, no matter the technique, nothing is calculated, we don't think. We Dance ! There is the famous "cogito ergo sum" by Descartes, now: I DANCE, therefore I AM.
This is the most important thing beyond the most respectable techniques, this passage is the basis. It is the reason we have this immeasurable feeling of well-being. We feel connected, nothing can alter the dopamine or endorphin secretion!
In summary: “Dance as if no one is looking at you. "
Easier said than done ? Some can, but many cannot, others are looking for a methodology to put this rule into practice. A simple and effective exercise? Get into condition.
The fact of repeating to yourself regularly : I don't care about the way others see me! Let me illustrate these words with a relevant analogy of quantum physics. In a nutshell, it concerns the world of the infinitely small, the realm of particles and the bizarre. In the quantum world, when a particle is observed, it behaves like a piece of matter. You will tell me, what's the connection?
Would you believe that this same particle, when it is not observed, behaves quite differently? It acts as if it is free to do what it likes, it is everywhere, until it behaves like a wave! A paradox for a simple particle. By this analogy, we understand very well that others’ gazes dictate the trajectory and that it is necessary to know how to get rid of it. Forget the way others see you.
Gradually, heavy looks that annoy you, looks that alter your possibilities, that hinder your freedom to express yourself fully, will diminish, to finally disappear. There will only be you and the music.
We all start dancing with friends or in private, listening to music, watching TV or tutorials on Youtube. Then we go to training, we take lessons, workshops to express ourselves sooner or later on stage. Concerning hip hop dance, there are all kinds of events in which we can express ourselves. End-of-year galas, battles, jams, parties, nightclubs, etc., the slightest opportunity to dance or interact with other dancers is taken. From the bedroom to the training room, from the practice room to the stage, the process of evolution, of progression will only satisfy you if the basis is not flouted. The art of expressing oneself, of Dancing with a capital D. The sincerity of the movement! Without it, you will feel like you are missing something fundamental, because you cannot lie to yourself. You can learn a whole series of movements by heart as complex as they are, without the basis it is an empty shell.
So you have to be careful not to lose this childish spontaneity, this sincerity that you have when you dance in your room. Sure, we can learn movements, techniques, sequences, even choreographies, as long as we keep within us the rhythm, the groove, the flow, a whole bunch of adjectives to qualify the basis!
Connect and feel the music as if you were alone, let it take you where it pleases. Do you know the feeling of being in perfect harmony with the sound? When it inspires us so much that we are unable to reproduce the movements we have just made.
Question for beginners. What is more important than technique or the mastery of gestures? Spontaneity ? Sincerity ? Caps off to you!
These incessant repetitions are, of course, voluntary. From experience, I assure you that we can neglect this step without realizing it, in favor of the technique. Because the technique, once acquired, impresses! The result is immediate. But Dancing with a capital D will touch anyone who looks at your approach with interest, whether intellectual or emotional. It is a reflection of what you are.
DANCING, is a body interacting with music, in perfect harmony. Do not calculate anything, do not premeditate anything, let the body move on the rhythm that is proposed. This is what we call freestyle in our jargon. Improvisation. Of course, over time, without skipping steps, we can introduce sequences, effects, movements of our own, our best move. Do not see this as a paradox. It’s like speaking spontaneously and choosing certain words over others, practicing saying things correctly, sometimes even dialectical dexterity, eloquence. In short, the art of combining the spontaneous and the reflexive.
Why and for whom do we dance? It would not be very honest to say that we dance only for ourselves. What is the point of making magnificent paintings if they cannot be seen? When we speak, we talk to someone, right? We have words to communicate. The same is true for dance, it’s called bodily expression. Except that we don't have to be multilingual to communicate with all continents. Indeed, like the smile, bodily expression is the same in all languages.