Ballroom Dance > Developing Showmanship

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by pygmalion, Nov 16, 2003.

  1. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I don't see a difference in amount btwn levels either, without technique, you aren't getting far...IMO

    dancerdol...yes, I have noticed that where there is uncertainty, bad things start happening to posture and technique....
  2. dancerdol

    dancerdol Member

    So the moral of the story - be certain and have great technique! Then you will have the confidence to add the artistry and showmanship!
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Wow. That doesn't sound simple at all.
  4. ajiboyet

    ajiboyet Well-Known Member

    Oh, of course it is! Just have great technique, that's all! LOL!!!
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    You know what, though? (Been thinking about this when I shoulda been sleeping ...) I'm not sure that I agree that good technique and confidence are the only ingredients. I think they are both important ingredients, but ...

    This is going to sound random, but bear with me. I remember a band competition I participated in in high school -- tenth grade, I think? We played an incredibly challenging piece (for me, at least. Flute was my third instrument and I hadn't been playing very long.) We were out-manned by people from places like Texas, where I live now, where band is right up there with God and country.

    We worked on the piece for months (WHY am I not able to remember the name of that piece?) And .. for a couple weeks before the competition, we worked on posture and breathing together, on holding our instruments up and putting them down in unison, on not doing anything tacky with the spit valves, on making sure our ridiculous-looking uniforms were absolutely perfect - well-fitting, pressed, etc.

    None of these little details had anything to do with our technique, although you could probably make a good argument that they added to our confidence. I played flute and I played flute badly. But ... IIRC (and it's been a billion years since I started this thread, so I may not remember what the heck I was talking about ...) what I was getting at with my original question was, what specific steps can a dancer take to create a feeling, in ones audience, that one has stage presence, regardless of level of technical development?

    I think many of us have seen beginning dancers doing a first or second showcase and light up the room. I know I have. I think some of us may also have seen very experienced dancers dance beautifully but get a lukewarm audience response. Why? What is the difference? That is what I was trying to get at. Nebulous, I know. :oops:
  6. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    But somewhere below guns and football. ;)
  7. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    my responses are to the specific new inquiry of dancerdol...who already has that intangible quality...but it seems to be dimmed or enhanced depending upon other challenges

    as to the very original question, if we do want to go back there....

    I think that is internal, and I think it is something that a person either allows or doesn't..I think it is a very difficult thing to have to learn to produce because I think it is the business of one's spirit
  8. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    pushing the 'like' button on this answer!!
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    That's an intriguing answer. Must ponder before I reply. :)
  10. dancerdol

    dancerdol Member

    I have been going back to DF threads and also asking judges, pros etc. how they define presence. I do think that some people have "it" but, I am also convinced that you can enhance it in yourself because it does involve all of the elements pygmalion described and what fasc said also. It's being authentic about who you are in your choreography, your costume, your partnership and also understanding what you bring to your dancing - amplifying your own inner light. It's your friendly non-arrogant engagement with your fellow dancers in the on deck area, it is the stillness in your heart and body before the music starts, it is your genuine reaction to your partner and the music that we see and it is engaging an audience to watch you and follow your dancing as a "story" One of the main points judges, coaches and top pros said is to LOOK at the audience - spot your turns - don't have "shark eyes" that roll up into your head - smile with your whole face and don't use fake ballroom expressions. Show us you truly LOVE to dance and you will have more presence - no matter what is your level of experience and technique. Of course, the more technique you have certainly the more you can add light and shade, nuances, moments of stretch and pauses that make us feel the emotion. Marianne Nichol said on a coaching - you start a movement and it is point A - then you end the movement or pattern at C - But, the dancing happens during B - show me B and take me along for the journey. To me - that is presence - you are engaged with this dancing couple and you want to watch to see what happens next with the flow
  11. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I totally agree dancerdol...I want to be clear...I think all people have "it"...I just think that not all people allow "it" to come out and play...and I think that is largely spiritual work...thinking about what inhibits that, etc...and that is a very difficult and personalized journey so it is very hard for someone to teach anyone that.... maybe counsel them toward how to do that in a way that has integrity, but otherwise, very difficult to teach...only to facilitate as a mentor, by listening to why it currently isn't there...
  12. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I hear you, f. Very hard to teach.

    I'm thinking of some (not ballroom, but still) celebrities who at least claim to be very, very shy and who have gigantic stage presence. Eric Clapton comes to mind. His stage presence is HUGE. I remember seeing him in concert. His presence is HUGE. He walked onto the stage of a roughly 20-thousand person venue where I saw him and (I am not making this up) created silence in the audience without saying a word. I've seen him do a couple interviews (I don't think he does them anymore.) To hear him tell it, he's just a shy guy. So what the heck does he do when he walks on stage? I'm sure the Varilights probably help, but he's doing something that his handlers taught him. THAT's what I'm getting at.

    I also remember seeing Jill Sobule ( a folksy singer from the late 80s/early 90s. Does she still record? Dunno.) Anyway. I saw her at a tiny venue on South Street in Philly -- a converted single screen movie theater that may have had 300 seats. Same thing. Everybody was rowdy and chatting until she walked on the stage and silenced us with her presence. She didn't even say anything. Blew my mind.

    ETA: No. At least in the case of Jill Sobule, I know it's not the lighting or any special tricks. I saw Paul Young (the British pop/soul singer) at the same place around the same time and he used his band, and lights and the announcer, and the audience still didn't shut up. (Great concert though! dang! He can sing and he's a great entertainer.)
  13. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yeah well. Texas may suck, but you gotta go where love takes you. I'm in Texas because I loved the ex. I may stay because I love the Beau. It is what it is. What can I say?

    And BOT. Barbra Streisand same thing. I've never been able to afford tickets to her incredibly hard to acquire concert tickets, but I have seen videos. The woman is terrified of singing in front of people, to hear her tell it, but she controls her audience.

  15. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    I completely agree. Everyone has the capacity to bring the "it" factor, but what limits us is also is imbedded in who we are and how much we are willing to examine who we are to bring that forward, but it is also in what we learn. But while it is a personal journey, it can be aided by mentors and, to some degree, "taught."

    I don't subscribe to the theory for a second that someone either has "it" or they don't - it can absolutely be learned and developed (though, being such a personal journey, it can also be a painful process). My favorite teachers are the ones who remind me that there is no such thing as a "natural" dancer. There are people who have been dancing since they were born, so it is now natural to them, but even for them it was a learned behavior. My favorite teachers are also the ones who have the patience, creativity, and understanding to recognize what is needed to mentor someone to find "it" in themselves - rather than say someone just doesn't have "it." That isn't teaching - it's quitting.
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yup. I think people can be taught to access that part of themselves ... which is why I started this thread, 8(?) years ago.
  17. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    I think you are absolutely hitting on something here...having just come out of a lengthy conversation about "the finished look." Part of showmanship is very much something that can be "taught" - why else do we put so much emphasis on clothing, hair, makeup, nails, etc.? Because looking the part goes a very long way to convincing both the audience and yourself that you know what you are doing.
  18. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    yep..some showmanship can be taught, some can be encouraged and nurtured, some is a personal choice to allow...if the last one never happens, the ultimate "it" will be missing...
  19. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I remember seeing Tina Turner in concert... recently, and I think she is 60-70ish now... amazing stage presence... she had everyone on their feet enthralled, even though she does not actually dance as much as she did when she was younger, she still absolutely had "it". I think when you have confidence, and lack of inhibition and a love for what you are doing, and the technique in place to back it up... you can let your true self shine. It is scary though, because you are revealing parts of yourself to the audience.... but when you see someone who truly has "it"...mmmm. I think it can be learned.. but in a different way, you learn it by developing the confidence, developing the solid technique and knowing that it doesn't matter who is out there... being totally in the moment... expressing what you want to say. That is my goal in dance... to get to that place....
  20. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    wet blanket alert

    I think I have a different take on this issue. Showmanship can be taught; a good performer will have tricks that catch an audience's eye, and that's showmanship. At Dance Legends, Victor and Anastasia did a tango that was glorious with showmanship -- they had gestures that contributed massive, eye-filling, edge of the seat meaning to their dance, and kept the audience involved. Showmanship! I loved it. And I don't love their dancing, generally.

    "It" is different from showmanship. "It" is charisma, presence, the quality in someone that makes it impossible to take your attention away from her. "It" has nothing, nothing to do with confidence or technique. I have to disagree with you here: I believe, fully, it cannot be learned. It can be freed, and that's where the mentor with patience, creativity, and understanding comes in. Yes, it takes guts to make that sometimes painful personal journey. But if you have "It," you likely will make that journey b/c the reward is very great. And, sometimes, b/c you can't *not* make that journey, and be whole.

    Many have showmanship, whether innate or learned. Few have It. Very, very few.

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