What Technique Means to Me
By Nicola Nordin
I didn’t realize until I studied for my professional examinations just how lucky I was that I had been taught correctly from the beginning without even realizing it. For this reason, I believe good technical knowledge is invaluable and should not be confused with personal interpretation, charisma or individuality. It is in fact the tool that allows you to develop these areas enabling you to continue and grow as a dancer becoming more competent and experienced, a journey
that continues to end of our dance life and beyond through the couples we teach.
With the advancement of choreography and influences from other styles, many dancers do not always see the link between technique and their own choreography, practicing basic actions as a separate issue and not incorporating the information in their everyday routines. This means technique can become detached from the themes and ideas and weakens the effects wanted by so many of today’s aspiring dancers.
Now is the time to re-visit the roots of our wonderful Ballroom and Latin American dance. Understand where it came from, how it has developed and where we want it to go without losing the knowledge of the past!
Technique and What Does It Mean to Me? Part 1
In the 1960’s I started to dance with Wolfgang Opitz as a professional competitor. My technical heroes at that time were the famous Lorraine, Walter Laird and Nina Hunt in Latin and in Ballroom, Bill and Bobbie Irvine, Len Scrivener, Benny Tolmeyer and Peter Eggleton.
They gave me answers to my questions concerning the Why - When - What - How and Where for competition dancing! A never ending story as everyone knows...
The principles of: “Form Follows Function” or “First Action then Direction” are still with me.
We learned to execute the basics and learned to really lead any partner to any music anywhere in the world.
And yes we enjoyed social dancing between the rounds in Blackpool!
I believe if you understand the fundamental logic of our technique books then you can question modern trends.
Here is my little story relating modern trends:
In the 1970’s Wolfgang and I experienced in Blackpool a result in the Cha Cha Cha professional final with 5x first and 6x sixth placings! Why? We were too far away with jazz elements in our choreography! A technique book tells us from where we come and motivates us where to go! It describes in my opinion not an end result but the very important basis upon which we can build up a future if we keep the respect, the characteristics and beauty of each dance!
Walter Laird quoted in his sixth edition of his technique book in 2003: “The more one understands about a subject-matter, the simpler the explanation! Our dancing is based upon principles governed by the laws of natural movement and behavior of the human body. They cannot be the subject of personal opinions or interpretation. They are sacrosanct!”
We all are the keepers of the scroll!
Each of us - be it as a student, an amateur or a professional dancer, a judge, a trainer or a coach - has the responsibility in what direction Ballroom dancing will develop.
My knowledge of technique is also my fire brigade when I have to judge. It let’s me filter quality at first sight between nice couples and the best!
What Technique Means to Me. Part 2
History shows that dance masters always passed on their knowledge to the next generation - making sure that the quality of ethic and aesthetics did not get lost. I am thankful for lots of technique books that gave me the possibility to not only find a profession as dance teacher but also to find my calling in life!
The technique is the perfect tool to “Dance to enhance!” And it is there for everybody who is interested to learn forever!
What technique means to me Part 1
Dance is an art form that requires both vast amount of technique and physical skills. How to find freedom of expression while staying disciplined with your basic fundamentals and technique?
Technique and performance are not two separate subjects. Technique shouldn’t hinder the performance. On the contrary, technique assures you have a strong platform to stand on to create a more skillful and wise body to perform the desired style of dance. Technique is your tool to freely express yourself.
On Technique Part 2
By Hanna Karttunen
Technique is not a desired style or mood. Technique is your cornerstone, something you can always rely on under any circumstances. It is the solid foundation that carries you through everything. Something that doesn’t change. It is mechanical repetition that one can use. It is always there for the dancer to revisit at any time.
Since I was a little girl, I have been a lover of technique, basic principles and fundamentals in Latin and Ballroom dancing. I found great satisfaction in studying it. I wanted to understand it, to know what it is, why it is important and how to implement it in my dancing. I have always been very physical in my approach to dancing. I loved practicing. I wanted to not only understand the technique but also to feel it and experience the technique in action.
In all its simplicity the technique is mechanical repetition. You cannot repeat a feeling, but you can always repeat the mechanics that created that feeling. Technique is something you can rely on, revisit and repeat. It doesn’t change and it is the foundation you can trust.
To me the technique in Latin and Ballroom dancing is the base that defines the form of our dance. Technique is a backbone of tradition of dance. Technique is a mechanically organized platform on which we can build and develop the art of dance.
The technique to me means freedom. I study it, I understand it and I use it to have the freedom to express myself in dance.
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