Any singers here?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Soulmate61, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. Soulmate61

    Soulmate61 Active Member

    It is all very interesting.
    In tango with tension and suprise needed a coil wound up, there would be no spot then for pronounced inhale - which may even cause an unintended body rise?

    One famous sportsperson combining breathing with action would be Monica Seles, who grunted fortissimo as she played each stroke of tennis like it was her last stroke on planet earth. Presumably she had to breathe as heavily after her grunt. Serena Williams is carrying on Monica's trademark.

    I have noticed many photos of standard men in Blackpool Finals with mouth open. I thought they were silently singing along with the music. Now I wonder if they are exhaling and inhaling consciously.
  2. BD4L

    BD4L Member

    There are a lot of Standard pros who sing with the music. Katusha Demidova is definitely one of them, as is Victor Fung. But I'm sure there's some of the controlled breathing as well. As for Tango, the only time I can remember using a pronounced inhale was coming out of pivots going into a chase with a strong slow on the first step. We also used knee rise on that step to allow the upper body to create a sustained action before snapping around. But yes in general Tango makes use of many controlled exhales and very few controlled inhales, at least in my experience and what I was taught.
  3. Soulmate61

    Soulmate61 Active Member

    Connecting breathing intimately with body action is a recurring theme in Chinese martial arts. The word "chi" has two meanings: breath, and spirit/purpose/energy/concentration: the mental accompaniment of physical action. I think this is about marrying readiness and focus from body and mind resulting in an explosive release impossible without combining mind and body.

    One UK dance teacher said in a lecture some of his latin dance pupils from the Far East dance like it was martial arts, down to that ludicrous move where a girl crouches down and a gent sweeps a leg horizontally over her head with shades of "Crouching tiger, hidden dragon", i.e. movement at the expense of music. I don't like it.
  4. BD4L

    BD4L Member

    Yeah I've seen some of those couples. Not a style I like, but I can appreciate their control. I would guess the breathing in martial arts is closer to the breathing for dance than singing would be though.
  5. singndance

    singndance Well-Known Member

    I am a classically trained singer, and I find it very difficult to translate breath control needed for singing to the ballroom floor. My pro, however, really believes I should be able to use more of my singing breath control in my dancing. I guess I am just not at that level yet in my dancing, I am too busy thinking about other technical issues. There are certain spots in the choreography where he has actually inserted an exhale or an inhale, which admittedly helps stylistically and helps me achieve the look and the feeling that he wants. In singing, I plan breathing to support the musical phrasing. In dancing, pro believes breathing should work the same way, to support the phrasing in the dance, and that inhales and exhales at certain moments can make a world of difference. One of his coaches trained him that way, and he credits it for making a big difference when he was competing.

    Also, I agree with Fasc wholeheartedly regarding timing. In singing, it is a big no no to come in late, you have to be almost ahead of the beat, and so your breathing is ahead - you take time from the end of the previous beat to be right on the next. This is a huge no no in dancing. I struggle with being too fast all the time while dancing, so much so that I gave up all my choral singing, where anticipation is key. Pro actually told me once he learned a lot teaching me, because he didn't realize that singers are trained to be so right on the beat. We spend a fair amount of time breaking the music down so that I am not anticipating and coming in early.
    Soulmate61 likes this.
  6. Soulmate61

    Soulmate61 Active Member

    Very interesting. Intuitively I believe this is a crucial area. In 2009 Riccardo and Yulia gave a lecture on paso doble. Riccardo specifically made obvious exhale sounds as they walked through their routine. Now I understand why. In 2010 he mentioned he keeps watch on partner's breathing as that is part of dance dynamics.

    As a trained classical pianist I tackle a new dance routine by writing it down in something like sheet music. I write 4 foot moves (L R L R) like 4 crotchets in a bar, with rl for 2 quavers on the turn, and l/r as 2 quavers for a lock step. After I understood the series of movements then I am happy to take rubato liberties with the beat where necessary, dancing as language of movement not like a sign language interpreter matching the rhythm of speech.

    No violinist or singer while executing a spin turn can possibly keep time like a musician sitting down. J.S. Bach wrote lots of dance music. I am sure he would not expect dancers to move in time as precisely as keyboard and strings players. Dance is 3-dimensional. Music with one rhythm would be one-dimensional. I would not expect a film sequence to unroll in perfect sync with musical sound-track, e.g. a gunslinger drawing his Colt 45 dead on the beat.

    As for moving too fast in order to arrive precisely on the beat, well Karen Hilton said the feet mark the time, but the upper blody in legato movement expresses melody. I am very interested in trying out exhale/inhale marks. If a singer is like a violin, oxygen is her bow - no voice no music, no oxygen no voice. However, for a dancer pre-planned breathing would be less compulsory, as he can improvise breathing from reflex action with shallow haphazard inhales (like a speech maker "sight-reading" without prior practice run). By contrast a deep inhale would supply fresh oxygen and energy like adrenalin -- for movement and zest. Mimi in La Boheme would not need to take many breaths, as sotto voce phrasing would be in character.

    After midnight, when Blackpool dancers come out for the 7th and Final Round, they invariably arrive wearing a change of costume. Their faces light up as they unsheath their A game against the best in the world. I suggest an inhale following a full exhale provides similar boost. I would be very interested to swap my "sheet music" dance notation for your inhale-annotated choreography. :)
  7. BD4L

    BD4L Member

    So I was just posting in another thread about a book I have started using over the last year or so called Dance To Your Maximum, Maximilliaan Winkelhuis, and I noticed one of the section is on breathing techniques. He ties it directly into rhythm. He initially defines four types of rhythm; constant, impulse, impact, and swing. Constant with no accent, impulse an accent at the beginning of the action, impact an accent at the end of the movement, and swing an accent in the center. He says to time your exhalations with your accents so if you are doing an impact move (exhale at the end) use a forceful exhale at the end of the movement, etc. I would definitely suggest the book.
    SwayWithMe, singndance and Soulmate61 like this.
  8. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    it is a great book...time to re-read it
  9. Soulmate61

    Soulmate61 Active Member

    Thanks, must get and read that book, along with others already lined up for reading :oops: .
    Singers cannot sing when they breathe but dancers can dance when breathing -- a difference opens up there.

    I would compare micro-timing of breathing tied to the beat as immediate physical tactics, but broader conscious breathing as strategic, reflecting melody and mood in addition to rhythm e.g. Mimi lying on her death bed should inhale less than Don Jose making a triumphant entrance in Carmen. In real life two such persons do breathe differently: breathing is tied to emotion, not just to physical effort.
  10. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    I was trained as a classical singer, too. Have they changed the teaching of breath, since my day? Used to be you needed a deep, strong, supported breath to sing pianissimo, just like you do to sing forte. Same true of dance: a deep, strong, supported breath will give me strong, supported dancing -- how I turn that into selling the movement is up to me, whatever the dance.

    To understand the musicality of elastic timing, it may be useful to spend a lot of time listening to good jazz singers. Ballroom timing owes more to jazz vocalists than to opera/lieder/choral singers.

    Not that I'm opinionated or anything. ;-)

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