Developing Showmanship

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

  1. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    yes...was trying to say this...and you did it so much better
     
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I guess my disagreement is only that I think all have it but precious few are ever able to shre it
     
  3. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    there are definitely natural dancers...the same way there are natural singers and natural many other gifts. you can't learn to be a natural dancer or a natural singer... a gift is a gift.

    you can surely develop your ability to dance or sing or...whatever...but natural is natural.

    sorry...that's the way of life. speaking as a...very not natural dancer. or singer. who has spent a lifetime endeavoring to develop those "natural" qualities.
     
  4. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    yup. quite agree.
     
  5. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I have been called a natural at both dancing and singing...I think it is truer of singing....it has definately never felt like it in the dancing...but I have been told by someone I respect that I have something money can't buy...I hope so...singing required minimal training to let the "it" come out and also at a very nice level that people in the know would define as proficiency....but even being a natural may not be "it" ..."it" to me, is when a person lets their light shine....learning some things can create fertile ground for the "letting" it come out....
     
  6. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    true. this is a rich subject. strikes an intimate chord for me... long journey navigating this.

    for a dancer, naturally, unself-consciously *embodying* and *enjoying one's embodiment* while shining that light with joy...very much part of that "It-ness", IMV.
     
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Interesting turn of conversation.

    Really nice summary, j_a.


    Based on this, I would say that Jill Sobule has it. (Go see her. Seriously. I googled her. She still does concerts in the Northeast and Midatlantic. Wow.) Paul Young has showmanship. And there's a guy I saw at that same place around the same time; what the heck was his name? An acoustic/flamenco jazz fusion guitarist who made it to the top of the pop charts. What the heck was his name? He walked onto the stage, played his music, never said a word to the audience, never even made eye contact, and walked off. Worst concert I've ever seen. I seriously said to the guy I went with that we should have bought a CD instead.

    So ... if you can't learn "it" then how can learn to access it, if you have it? And if you don't have "it", then how can you learn the tricks that, altogether, comprise showmanship?
     
  8. theAnnelis

    theAnnelis Active Member

    I have a pretty extensive background in performance...for showmanship in ballroom, I'd say use the audience as your third partner. It is incredible and it's SO easy to feed off an audience's energy, because they WANT to like you - they didn't pay for those seats to NOT be entertained. Use that! And have no fear. Like I said, the audience wants to like you - so they want to see you really live in front of them and not hide anything. It's totally different from everyday life in this regard.
     
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Ha! Suite No 1 in E Flat. Gustav Holst. What a beautiful piece of music.


    (Sorry. When I get that tip of the tongue sensation, I can be a bit obsessive.)

    Anyway. BOT. What do you mean when you say that the audience should be your third partner?
     
  10. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    It, presence. When someone has it, they engage you, you feel like they are performing for you. Their execution and confidence have to be good enough that they can focus on making love to the audience. You know people are looking at you, and you love it, and you turn it up a notch because that's how you respond to their attention.

    I have watched dancers that have it. I have seen dancers lose it over time, when their confidence takes a beating in life experience. And I have seen some lose it when that particular style of dance stops being the most exciting thing in their life.

    At the mundane level, it's there when a couple is having fun, playing with the music, confident enough in their dancing not to worry about perfect placement and timing.
     
  11. I know people who I want to watch and they are not the best dancer in the room.

    People has come up to me saying they love watching me dance yet I am always being compared unfavorably by my teacher to girls who are quite less showy but I suppose have better technique.

    I am not sure whether talent has more to do with showmanship or ability to pick up great technique quickly.
     
  12. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    This is unrelated to actual presence, but years ago I danced in a final where my partner and I were marked 1st in all dances by one very well respected judge, and 5th or 6th by all the other judges. I later asked her why she'd marked us 1st, and she said that we were the only ones dancing with each other, which I thought was an interesting perspective.
     
  13. ajiboyet

    ajiboyet Well-Known Member

    Interesting...
     
  14. dancerdol

    dancerdol Member

    What an interesting thread and I'm intrigued by so many varying thoughts on showmanship and presence. Thanks Pygmalion for starting the ball rolling! Great threads never die - they stay in the archives for TC to find! :p

    I think there are two different and valuable streams of thought for competitive dancers in this thread. Showmanship tips can be learned by watching and understanding what makes performances entertaining. But, showmanship can also be contrived like the example of being shy normally as a person and then you become a performer by putting on a sequin jacket and an act. The harder parts of "presence" seem to be how to access your own inner soul with more confidence and abandon to share some authentic part of yourself with the audience. One pro that I work with believes that presence is your inner light and you give an audience an opportunity to see into your soul for some small amount of time. I used to work in contemporary dance and the dancers would leave a performance wiped out emotionally because they used every ounce of their life experience - good and bad - to connect to an audience through their dancing. This is different then just putting on a good show. In ballroom, I think we do both - we perform for an audience and entertain but, sometimes - rarely but, it does happen - there is a dance that touches the audience and moves them emotionally because the two dancers true emotions were visible in how they move their body, in their connection to their partner and the audience and in their faces. This is when the dance becomes art. Much harder to do in traffic, in a competition setting, for 1 1/2 minutes of music.
     
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Awesome and insightful post, IMO, dancerdol! Thank you. :-D
     
  16. theAnnelis

    theAnnelis Active Member

    Include the audience and play to them! They're a great source of energy :grin: Ever notice how even in the smallest comps, Riccardo and Yulia always enjoy each other and they love playing with the audience?
     
  17. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Love this thread!

    This has been the subject of much thought and reflection since my last comp - where it was pointed out from several respected sources (and reflected in the video) that I lost to someone to whom I am at least technically equal, and possibly technically stronger in a few dances. The difference - she performed, and I looked composed but a little quiet.

    I do think showmanship can be taught and improved, but it will never become as good as someone who is simply born with it. Similarly, I don't think you can teach the "it" factor, but you can unlock it... and that is the plan for next time for me. Apparently, I naturally pull attention on the practice or social floor when I'm in my own little world, but I get too careful, hold back, and just generally get in my own way when it "matters".

    So far, telling myself "this is going to be awesome" before taking hold when I know that people are watching is helping to bring out the performance aspect in lessons/practice. Here's hoping that consistent practice of the positive self talk helps make it happen on the competition floor!
     
    Sania likes this.

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