Friday, August 10, 2012

How to Dance: the Basics

I think I’ll give up on dancing, well the lessons anyway. I’ve been having them for three Easters now I think and I need something a bit more social, or a consistent partner.

But I have thought about it a lot recently. I bought the pre-release of MechWarrior online. The way mechs more reminded me of dancing. Your top and bottom halves do completely different things and yet to act as a single unit. Just like when I do the Macarena on my bike. My legs control the speed, my hips control the direction and my arms and shoulders are engaged in the actual dancing process.

I’ve also been reading “Kenichi: the greatest disciple” recently they mentioned a Karate technique called gamaku where you tense up certain muscles in order to look like you are standing on your right leg whilst actually having all your weight on your left. Dancing is all about being unstable but never falling over. Making difficult things look easy and easy things look difficult.

Watching Avatar: The last Airbender reminded me that dancing is all about flow; Moving gracefully from one form to another. Similar to martial arts you need to have a stable center of gravity and when you punch the air flames should come out. But unlike martial arts dancing is all about surplus movements and wasted energy. The more kicks and wiggles you can fit within a dance step the better. So long as you get to the next form on time for the next beat without falling over.

Another inspiration for me is singing. Last week at church I was reminded of this. Siegfried from Kenichi also springs to mind. To sing or dance well you need a good posture. I suppose Dean Martin is a better person to look up to in this regard, he managed to make a living out of singing and dancing.

  • When you bring your feet together you always change the weight to the other foot. The next foot you move is the one with no weight on it. If you intend to move the same foot twice then you only tap the ground or keep your foot in the air entirely.
  • At every beat of the music you should be able to maintain that pose without falling over. You also make a movement between every beat.
  • Your only mistake will be thinking that you made a mistake. Always act like you did that on purpose. Politely apologize if you step on somebody or bump into them.
  • Dancing is about freely expressing yourself, everybody has their own style, so copy everybody else’s movements then add your own flair to it.
  • Only when you are dancing really fast is efficiency of movement important, at this time you need to minimize all movements and seep everything small. Otherwise you cannot reach the next form in time and once you lose your timing you will soon lose your balance.
  • Trust your body to know what it is doing. Once you have revised a step in slow motion let the music move your feet, do not watch them. If you stand on somebody then your feet were too far from the ground. Just like a brontosaurus has an extra brain at its hips to control the back half so to your fingers and toes can learn to react by themselves without conscious effort. This is how professional fencers fight, they mentally decide on the strategy to use then let the muscles in their hands and thighs react according to the opponents movements.
  • When dancing with another person you need to be firm but gentle. Always maintain pressure and slightly lean up against eachother. But don’t push or whip the other person around. A subtle increase/absence of pressure should be all you need to guide your partner. If you flop around like a flying spaghetti-fish your partner won’t have any idea what you are doing or where you are.

So, yeah. As time goes by I seem to like dancing more and it seems to be something I’ll always do now. When I’m washing the dishes or trying to get clean in the shower, there is always time to add a little bit of grove.

See also:
How to Dance: The Basics
How to Dance: The Mind
How to Dance: The Heart