Ballroom Dance > facial expressions (latin)

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by dansa, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. dansa

    dansa New Member

    Ok so im not sure if im really understanding the whole concept of facial expressions. there are some things i havent figured out yet,, maybe you can help...

    So first of all, i wonder, are there any rules regarding facial expressions?

    I understand the fact that the dancer has to express the dance in every possible way, and the face is a great "tool". But ive seen alot of weird expressions (for instance, yulia zagarouthecnko) where i get confused.. sometimes it feels that some dancers just over-do alot of expressions that dosent eaven fit (my personal opinion)..

    So i have some more questions,

    Is it important to smile alot or all the time?
    Is it important to interact with the audience? Is it a must to do it?
    Is it important to keep your head high all the time?
    /Maybe not a facial expression related question but i think its in the same group/, cause my coach told me that i have to keep my head high all the time, cause it looks better. But sometimes i need to look down cause i do a theatrical expression to express the dance, am i wrong then? Should i all the time look above the audience as he thought me?

    So basically ive been thinking about these things alot. What is actually expected from a dancer (competition dancer on a higher level) if there are any guidelines everyone should follow regarding facial expressions? thanks for help.
  2. black_light

    black_light New Member

    Maybe it's not entirely so, but my opinion is JUST DANCE!

    If you really feel the dance - the music, the mood, the choreography, the interactions with your partner - the expressions should come naturally.

    Regarding smiling - you wouldn't expect someone to smile during Paso, right? On the other hand, you would be surprised to see someone serious during Samba. Again - the mood of the dance sets whether you smile or not.
    When you begin to perform, your teacher tells you to smile, coz it's better than no expression at all. that's a way to show that you enjoy your dancing.
    Same for lowering your head - you may do it, but you should do it right, so that it doesn't look like you just forgot to keep your back straight..
  3. emeralddancer

    emeralddancer Active Member

    I too have been told (nearly EVERY lesson) to keep my head high. But I am working on standard. LOL I feel like I have my nose in the air.

    Otherwise my instructor says I look constipated. (which just makes me laugh!) :D
  4. emeralddancer

    emeralddancer Active Member

    OH regard facial expressions ... I have also stated that many of them look so over the top. But ah ... I guess it is part of the gig. So looking forward to others responses on this.
  5. _malakawa_

    _malakawa_ New Member

    I'll try to answer so that you can understand.

    there are no rules about facial expression.
    imagine like you are walking. probably you are watching forward in front yourself so that you don't bump into somebody or something. the same is in dancing.

    there are steps in a routine, when it comes to competitive couple where you can look down (or better look up, but with your chin down), but mostly you need to look up. example - paso doble.

    when it comes to smile - that also depends. people are not smiling all the time.

    mostly, you'll find out that audience can help you a lot, they can give you so much energy. because if you are dancing for them they feel that and than they start to cheer, clap ......

    i am not saying that you need to interact all the time. if you have some figure which is open to the audience, of course that you are going either smile to them, or wink, or even send a kiss.

    you don't see yourself in the mirror when you are concentrating on something, either studying doing anything what makes you think a lot. then people have so many different facial expression that you can't even believe. don't bother with that. just enjoy in dancing.
  6. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    oh dear...this is a challenging one for me... so far, have not been able to find a "natural" vibe. when i think i'm looking happy, turns out i'm looking "surprised".

    achieving good, natural latin expressions a definite goal for 2009.
  7. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    Ruud Vermey's book - "Latin - Thinking, Sensing and Doing in Latin American Dancing" goes into this very subject. It's an interesting but difficult read. He uses a lot of terminology from Laban Movement Analysis that you have to get through and understand to get the total picture.

    Don't ask me to paraphrase it because I'm still figuring it out.
  8. and123

    and123 Well-Known Member

    yeah, my Latin coach's partner has studied Laban, and gee but doesn't her Latin expression look more natural than some of the face-pulling you see out there.
  9. sofi

    sofi New Member

    I noticed the facial expression thing, too. Some of the pros tend to pull their face around a lot, and even Yulia Z. really likes to do a little chomping action thing (I can't really describe it...she does it pretty much every time she ends a movement and it's kind of distracting plus it's a shame to see her pulling her beautiful face around.) I wonder if it just kind of happens while she's dancing...I find that I tend to make funny faces too without really controlling it.
  10. _malakawa_

    _malakawa_ New Member

    I had classes with ruud. And I can tell you that he is fantastic. He is psihologist.
  11. Yanou

    Yanou Member

    This is a big challenge for me. I need to add "facial expression" as one of my top priorities for 2009.

    I don't think there's any rules for types of facial expression. Of course, professional couples can show wide range of emotions because of their skill levels.

    For me, as a beginner latin dancer, I like to be able to show that
    • I am feeling the music
    • I am dancing with my partner
    • I am sharing what I'm feeling with the audience
    through my facial expression.

    My teacher started to emphasize to focus "on him" or "on the audience," and it's difficult. When I see my comp. photos or videos, I usually wear a "thinking face" because that was what I was doing and I always look very serious and tense..... I have a long way to go. :(
  12. Tenehill

    Tenehill New Member

    I prefer and strive to do as follows.

    The general expression - happy or sad - is governed by music and dance. There should not be overly joyful expression with minor key or tragic music (many tangos and waltzes have this mood).

    During musical introduction and right after the dance, the face expression is similar to the one the artists have on scene. In particular, after an unhappy death on the scene they come to public smiling.

    During the dance, the facial expression is governed by the mood at the moment. For example, in a sharp change of figure in cha-cha, say, from figure A to figure B, where figure B emerged unexpectedly, it would be appropriate for the lady to have a surprised expression in the beginning of B, and then switch to the mood-governed one during B, C, D, E.

    Folk dancers are masters of facial expressions - watch them, you'll get all answers.

    To answer your questions, as much as I know.

    No, it is inappropriate to smile all the time if the dance does not have such an inclination. Rare dances would have. Many dance pieces switch from major key to minor key at 1/3 of duration, and back to major key at 2/3. Those are the times to revise the facial expression. But there are pieces of dance music written "on one breath", where there is no change of mood from the beginning to the end. It is appropriate then to maintain almost constant facial expression, which could be a smile.

    It is not important to interact with the audience during the dance. In long term, you can gauge the audience's reaction. It is mostly very accurate. But during a dance? - No, I wouldn't let any opinion of audience control my dance unless there is something outrageous.

    Lowering the head and the glance is OK. It will emphasize the subsequent elevation of nose, chin and eyes. Just don't let lowering of the head be long or affect balance.

    But all this is of minor importance. You can dance good and you can dance bad, and be judged accordingly, in a facial mask - the presence or absence of the mask is of small importance in ballroom dancing.
  13. dansa

    dansa New Member

    ok thanks guys for your answers. its much more clear now then before :)

    i have another question that is similar to my original questions, but i wonder if its sort of common or accepted to flirt with the judges to get marked?
    or maybe that is just tacky?
    should a couple interact at all with the judges if there is such possibility in the dance?
  14. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Carefuol about this one. Though I agree w/ your post, it is importantto note the intention. When one is social dancing (or competing in some cases), one engages w/ partner. When one is performing (and or competing in some cases), one engages w/ audience...the intention of the dace beig to perform/entertain. Of course, this does not mean to the point of allowing an audience to interfere or confuse the performer. In this vain......
    If there is such a possibility or natural occurence to do so, as a judge, I feel ignored or that dancers don't care if I were watching if they do not interact w/ me. I am there for you.
  15. chica latina

    chica latina New Member

    In my opinion.. facial expressions should reflect the dance and what you are doing at the moment. For ex.. if you are flirting with your partner, your face will change accordingly to a seductive smile or even just a look (w/o smiling)... IF you did a quick change in speed and hit a position, most of the time it's like an attack and face will be stronger....

    I dont like when step/dance/facial expression dont match, which causes me to notice the facial expression... that's when I think it's not coming from the inside out... trying to do it vs living it and being natural about it.

    If you look like you are thinking all the time, is because you probably are... so try to practice frequently just listening to the music and what makes you feel, how your partner dances with you, etc.... and probably your face will get softer/relaxed and will react better.

    If you are flirting and it happens that you turn to face a judge, just keep it up...but dont look for it, then it becomes fake. Some judges like it, others dont care, and I'm sure if done wrong they may not like it at all. I have had judges flirt w me first, while I was dancing and the first time felt weird... now I just understand they want to be part of it and be involved with the performance.
  16. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    i will check this out. my pro has mentioned vermey a number of times...
  17. chica latina

    chica latina New Member

    Latingal, thanks for the reference... Seems like an interesting read.. I just order it.
  18. Bella

    Bella New Member

    Agreed. Expressions should fall naturally. I don't think there are set "rules" for face expressions. But I might be wrong.
  19. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    sam and chica latina, I've read through the book three times now and each time I pick up and understand more of the references he's making to the Laban Movement and how he's relating things in latin; and it all starts to make more sense.

    That reminds me, it's probably time for read number four.

    So far it's good thought provoking information. You'll probably recognize some of the subjects talked about in the book. So many pros have worked with Ruud Vermey, and it's really interesting to get to read in depth what his theories are.
  20. sambagirl

    sambagirl Member

    If you are having trouble finding the Ruud Vermeij book, it's because his last name is spelled Vermeij, not Vermey (which is how it's pronounced).

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