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  1. #1
    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    Default Too much technique? What is it?

    Just curious -- what do we think of when we hear the word "technique" ?

    Is there a way to have too much technique? Not enough technique? Where is the balance?

    If you have flawless technique but no soul, can you LEARN to have soul?

    How important is having good "technique" to you as a student or a teacher?

    What constitutes good "technique" ?

    Can you name a dancer you enjoy watching who has what you would consider excellent technique?

    (I'll post my thoughts after I hear some of yours.)

  2. #2
    V.I.P. alosha's Avatar
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    The first thing that comes to mind when I hear "technique" is safety. To be sure you are doing moves in a way that allows you to still be dancing in six months! The second thing is quality of movement. But you cannot learn (IMO) to have soul. You either have it or you don't. BUT, if you're not quite to the place where the technique comes easier (practice practice practice!) then your "soul" can be overshadowed.

    To me technique is really important. My first teacher taught me NOTHING about posture, and how to execute movements. She just told me to do it. So I'm un-learning all those nasty little habits (thank goodness I only danced with her for three months!!!!!).

    What constitutes good technique? I think "good technique" is the place where muscle memory has fully taken root and you start to really dance with the music.

  3. #3
    Moderator Daimona's Avatar
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    Thinking of dance as a language, technique would be both the vocabulary and conjugations.

    If your vocabulary is limited, you are only able to make simple sentences, and most probably you will use combinations and sentences you have learned from your teacher with small variations.

    As Alosha said, it is also a question of safety.
    To make good sentences, you would also need to know a lot of grammar and know how to conjugate. It is possible to make some kind of sentences, but they will probably sound strange to others and your body will probably get hurt because you are dancing in a way that will be harmful to your body.

    Understanding and interpreting the music would be like constructing the sentences. In some ways, this could be learned, but you would need some talent - soul - to do it properly and get to the core.

    If you have a large vocabulary and flawless grammar, you might be excellent, technically speaking. Your technique might be impressive, but if you don't have soul, it won't be poetry. You know how to make grammatically correct sentences, but they won't be original. To make original poetry that touches your audience, you need soul. You may learn how to fake soul using cliches, but cliches aren't original poetry...

    But - on the other hand, if you have soul, but have been too afraid to show it, you can learn how to get in contact with it and show it to your audience. And as with good technique and safety, it is a matter of practice and guidance.


    Did this make sense to you?

    A dancer with both excellent technique and soul is Aziza of Portland/Montreal (and I'm going to a workshop with her in Stockholm, Sweden this weekend! )
    --
    Daim.

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    V.I.P. shiradotnet's Avatar
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    I think of technique as the vocabulary that enables you to say what you want to say with the day.

    To use a linguistic analogy, for the last year and a half I've been learning Arabic from audio CD. I've learned a lot. However, if I were to have a conversation with an Egyptian woman who does not speak any English, it would be a very, VERY limited conversation because I know very little vocabulary at this point. I just plain wouldn't be capable of saying much to her, and certainly wouldn't be capable of discussing anything of any complexity.

    And so it is with dance. Your dance technique will impose limitations on your ability to express what you hear in the music. For example, suppose a certain flourish in the music feels to you as though it should be expressed with a deep standing backbend followed by a drop to the knees. If you can't do that backbend and drop then you'll be unable to express what you're feeling would fit the music.

    Now...

    There is such a thing as excesses in how you use language. Think of the Bulwer-Lytton writng competition that occurs each year, which essentially mocks a writing style that is too flowery, and too filled with show-off vocabulary words. Similarly, in dance technique, cramming too much crazy layering and too many show-off moves into one's dance will obscure the artistic message. That's actually why I'm not much of a fan of Suhaila's, Kaya's, and Sadie's style - they all seem much too busy, so full of showing off their party tricks that the artistic message of the dance is lost.

  5. #5
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daimona View Post
    Did this make sense to you?
    Yes, perfectly. The language analogy is spot on.

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    V.I.P. Aziyade's Avatar
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    The language analogy is perfect, so let me take it a step further:

    I'm reminded of two quotes:

    Omit Needless Words

    Eschew Obfuscation


    lol. Do you think certain dancers REALIZE that they are speaking in "florid prose" ? Or do you think it's become so important in classes and workshops etc that we layer movements and shimmy over everything while balancing a sword on our hip while dancing on glasses -- that students especially think we HAVE to be able to do 32 fouettes on the head of a doumbek or we're not really "skilled" ??


    Daimona, Aziza is a GREAT example. She has amazing physical and technical skills but she doesn't throw it all at you at once, and she's so enjoyable to watch. She's a great teacher, also. You'll love her!

  7. #7
    Premium Member Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aziyade View Post
    Do you think certain dancers REALIZE that they are speaking in "florid prose" ?
    I expect there are plenty who think that that is the whole point.

  8. #8
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    When I hear the word technique, (for beginners and improvers) it makes me think of the entire execution of a move from the shape being made, the muscles used, and the 'clarity' of the move as well as the safety. For more advanced students and professions, it makes me think of how all the moves flow together in cohesion to tell the story, emotion or just the magic of the music being interpreted.

    The word 'technique' also seems to be used sometimes as the opposite of 'relaxed' dancing. 'Too much' or 'too little' technique, in my experience, has been in reference to this latter meaning.

    I think I have seen 'too much technique' in this sense before and like others said, it's where the whole meaning of the song/dance get lots in flashy show-off moves. Because I feel the dance is a communication between the dancer and the audience, the dancer has to take the audience's feelings into perpsective when he/she dances and not overwhelm them all the time with fancy move after fancy move (what I'm thinking of is more high energy fast moves in particular). Sometimes, like in certain drum solos when the music's a bit wild this may be appropriate for a time. But the dancer and the audience both need time to breathe, to be excited, to take in what they're experiencing, to 'feel' the music, to go 'aaaaaaaaaaahhhh'...it is a series of ups and downs like a roller coaster ride. If it's all bam*bam*bam* bam* with moves all the time, well wouldn't that be a bit of a boring ride...I mean it would be a nice view for the dancer, but...

    I don't think I've ever seen someone not have enough technique, but it's usually poor technique rather than lack of techniqe I see, be that poor posture, out-of-control moves or whatever.

    As a student, good technique is essential to me. My problem at the moment is that I do pretty darn well in techniques classes and workshops. I also have less of a problem 'letting go' when solo dancing than a lot of people I know...I have a sort of emotionalness and fluidity to me. But I have a problem getting the two sides to come together, one or the other is always running the show and I'm struggling to get them to balance out.

    Dancers with what I consider good technique --
    Khaled Mahmoud, Ranya Renee, Lulu Sabongi and tons more, but I don't have all day!

    I don't think you can learn to HAVE soul. But I think most people have soul of some sort, it's just whether they have discovered it in themselves yet in their lives that makes the difference or whether they've been best friends with it since day 1. Many of us are taught to hide the more soulful side of ourselves and it can be hard to 'learn' to take off the mask.
    Last edited by Oona; 09-01-2009 at 07:59 AM.

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    V.I.P. adiemus's Avatar
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    I agree you can't be taught 'soul' - that's the emotion (in language analogy I think that's the process of choosing the words, the intonation, the body language that goes along with the speaking, and the purpose of the speech).

    'Too much technique' is when the 'words' get in the way of the 'message' and all you're looking at are flowery metaphors but you can't actually understand what they're getting at. I always think of politicians who speak in so many cliches that they end up saying nothing!
    Similarly in dance, the dancers who throw so many elements in that all you end up watching is which shimmy they're doing on top of which movement and are they really going to hang onto the sword and the zills while flinging a veil around?!!

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Reen.Blom's Avatar
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    Didem. :o)

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