The stylistic mixing of Smooth & Standard -- current trend

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by samina, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. bluebereft

    bluebereft Member

    there are always a number of standard dancers at Blackpool who wear jackets instead of tailsuits. it's a different look, but one that's also accepted, as long as it looks sufficiently classy etc etc. and yes, i think it was started by Tony Dokman. Tony and Amanda Dokman were multiple World, British, and European finalists, so it isn't as if they are a pair of middling dancers trying to make a statement!
  2. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    I'm recalling their names now, but haven't followed them. Thanks for sharing that.
  3. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, Tony Dokman.

    The suits have been sneaking into standard pro-am for years, and now I never see a tailsuit. It is kinda nice because it takes the pressure off of my men, not to have to purchase two different costumes. Or if they decide to only buy the suit because of its fungibility, they don't have to feel inferior on a floor of tailsuits.

    As for Standard dancing inside a smooth event at college and amateur events. I wish I could never again mark a couple that starts their waltz with a prep to a natural spin turn, reverse, reverse, whisk and chasse, natural hesitation, reverse, UnderArmTurn (token smooth piece). But there are two issues with that. In a college comp, often times couples are not given choreography by their coaches suitable to the style they enter... especially in the college scene where the "go big, and enter everything remotely possible whether you actually should or not, or go home mentality is so pervasive. So I have to check my dismay and just sigh quietly.

    As for the open work appearing too standardish, I also agree.
    Yes, there is FAR more substance to dancing smooth than simply being away from your partner. I get A LOT of flack as a judge (even received and anonymous text from someone telling me to F off after marking the 2nd place couple 5th in all dances) but I stand my ground (and at least have the integrity to put my name beside my opinion). The couple in question did NOT show me what I feel is appropriate Smooth Action, although they are nice dancers. There is a huge amount of weight exchange and range of body intensity that makes up good smooth. And simply running around with your partner in open position but maintaining standard frame and sometimes touching your partner is NOT what smooth is about. And at the open level you have no excuse that your coach does not give you appropriate choreography.

    I did it again yesterday at Tufts... and I am sure the couple thinks I have a bias against them or their coach/studio. I don't really want to be influenced by the other judges marks, so I did not pay attention to the higher awards placement and chose to only give out the finalist ribbons. Yet I am sure this couple placed well in the final. But I just couldn't mark it. I have a lot of respect for Smooth and I just can't give in to chump choreography masquerading as smooth.
  4. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    I disagree here. I personally like the dinner jacket look, and after having watched a number of my videos, I think that as a couple we look better when my pro is not wearing tails. Tails make him look taller and bring even more attention to our considerable height difference.
  5. singndance

    singndance Well-Known Member

    Makes me happy to read your opinion, Larinda. My pro and the choreographer/coach spent a lot of time discussing this issue when they worked on my open smooth routines. They too feel that there is a lot of substance and technique in good Smooth, and they don't see enough of it today in the pro-am open smooth level. They think it all looks very Standard with a few open moves thrown in. I really like the direction they are taking with my routines, and I believe in it. Now to execute!!
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    most of the men I know who wear less than tails in pro/am standard are men who have to dance many heats and would prefer not to expire in a heavy tailsuit...I have some sympathy for that...dancing three rounds as a 20-year old with someone who is at your skill level is one thing...dancing potentially 10 sets with no break at 45 with students of varying skill level is another challenge...while I am all for tailsuits (I am on record in that regard) I am also all for pros not collapsing on the floor...

    as for the whole smooth/standard issue...I like to see couples come together and separate...I don't see that together time as too much standard....I suppose there are degrees of everything and people all have different tastes....but I don't see that as smooth having too much standard, at least not in open...I honestly don't see too much standard in the open pro/am but I guess "too much" is a relative terms ...as to other levels, in pro/am; I guess I would always mark dancing that is the most beautiful as dancing that which deserves to win...and there is alot of time in syllabus when judges will mark simple clean closed work over flash, which I applaud, because the basics at those levels can't be presumed and should be rewarded...yes, I would like to see some indication in silver that things won't go all to hell if the pro lets go of the student, but i don't need to see alot more than that in closed syllabus...in open work I don't spend alot of time analyzing how smooth it is, I ask myself how artistic it is and how inspring it is ...but I certainly expect to see work that is independent and dynamic and expressive
    danceronice likes this.
  7. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    It seems, purely subjectively speaking, that while they certainly don't have to wear tails, it's still not hugely uncommon for pro-am guys to wear them. Yeah, I know. You have waaaay more experience here than I do. But my own pro recommended it for me, and used the top pro at our studio's liking to put her own guys into tails when she could as part of her reasoning. Possibly I'm just trying to rationalize my continuing to wear them while I can. :)
  8. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Music to my ears. I pray you continue to stand your ground and influence, nay, convert, your fellow judges to see and value what you are looking & marking for.
    dlliba10 likes this.
  9. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    And I'm saying that as a Standard dancer, as you know. :)
  10. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    For that, I can't speak to pro-am as I haven't watched much pro-am Smooth lately. However, I have definitely seen it very strongly in am & pro dancing. To wit, the Smooth "world champions" who performed at BADC this past weekend: all Standard action & movement, not Smooth, to my eyes. Though clearly rewarded by judges, and to loud & standing ovation at the arena...
  11. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member


    *officially in love with you now*

    thank god!!!!!!
    smidra86 likes this.
  12. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Clothes contribute to the ‘look’ of a style, but I don’t think they define it this much. I haven’t been to OSB, but I imagine pro-am involves a lot of potential costume changes, so it’s quite possible that these pros are trying to save some time by wearing a legal (but perhaps not as classic) costume for both. Tails are very hard to put on, compared to gowns.

    It’s also not unheard of that the pros don’t want to wear their ‘pro’ costume during pro-am, to avoid mixing the feeling and the mindset of pro and pro-am (i.e. so they feel special and at the top of their game when dancing pro.) Especially if they’re dancing pro the same day!

    It depends on what level you’re talking about, and what exactly you mean by “truer to the style”.

    Smooth choreography and pure Smooth technique does not completely define the style; many of the things that define Standard (clean footwork, posture, movement, shape, etc.) also define Smooth. So if a couple is lacking that – either because they simply don’t have enough so-called Standard technique, or because they’ve erred too far towards Rhythm/Latin – I can understand poor marks.

    IMO, you can’t start to have good Smooth technique (connection, shaping, balance, arm styling, etc.) until you have a strong “Standard” base… so I would rather see couples err on the side of too much Standard than skip it and do shoddy Smooth technique. At the same time, you have to develop you Smooth technique on top of the Standard base – like Larinda said, it’s not just about having Standard frame while separating from your partner. (For that matter, Standard isn’t just about having good Standard frame while staying with your partner!!!)

    I’ve never been to OSB, but if it’s comparable to my area, the lack of clean technique and reliance on flashy tricks is still a very legitimate concern even in pre-champ and champ.

    The styles have always been blurred. I mean, they even share the same dances!

    If anything, they are becoming more distinct, with Smooth taking on a lot more influence from Rhythm/Latin. And how far is too far there? Turn off the sound on some videos of high level Smooth Waltz, and it looks like Rumba danced in long gowns… should judges be rewarding that? Do you mark a Waltz that looks a little too much like Standard Waltz, or a Waltz that looks a little too much like Rumba?

    Larinda, as a competitor in your area, I am deeply sorry that someone would do this. Believe me, if we heard about someone on my team doing something like this, they would catch so much shi- er, flack – for it. Not cool.
    smidra86 likes this.
  13. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    ever worked with tony redpath??

    if not you are possibly missing the nuances of their smooth components as she trained them. After working with Tony and Michael extensively, i see much more smooth in slawek and marzena than i noted before.

    that being said smooth ( and rhythm for that matter ) now are very much beauty is in the eye of the beholder divisions which i for one love the variety
  14. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    You mean Slaweck and Marzena?! Uh... if you don't mind, can you give us a few examples couples that do look "Smooth" to you? I saw that show, and I don't see any basis for calling them "all Standard".
    Mr 4 styles likes this.
  15. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    mayo and michelle in 3....2....1... LOL

    i agree with you dbk

    Slawek and Marzena have a fabulous blend of the styles as most couples do it seem 70/30 mix of open and closed hold is the rule of the day Gary and susan are more 85/15 but who can do what she does!!
  16. jjs914

    jjs914 Active Member

    LOVE Gary and Susan.

    I didn't see the show this weekend, but I hear what Samina is saying. Often Slawek and Marzena have not been my favorite smooth couple to watch because they have sometimes felt more standard to me. Having said that, I think they're amazing dancers. And I liked what limited video I saw from Ohio this year of them. I found it more interesting than what I had seen then do in the past.

    And I think we'll always have different people looking for different things. I love smooth and I love to see it celebrated for what it is. But I agree with others that there has to be a good standard base and, at syllabus levels, I think that means seeing more standard that maybe you might prefer in competitions. We all have to start somewhere!
  17. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    this is my thing, I just never approach watching these couples from this perspective...while I usually bristle at smooth that is standard which only nods to smooth, I also bristle at smooth that looks more like some cross between wrestling and and an acrobatic routine...I think most high level couples do enough of both styles and are capable of both styles that I don't bother to measure it in that way... if they are entered in smooth, I am accepting that they are going to have an interpretation that plays to their strengths and that as they come onto the floor, their history comes with them and will be visible.... beyond that, I am looking for how their dancing together creates beauty and moves me..and I think any of us will have an appreciation or preference based upon our own histories
    danceronice and dbk like this.
  18. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    Larinda Saith:

    Larinda, I love you truly, madly, deeply.

    Nowadays, afaic, Max Sinitsa and Eulia Baranovsky are carrying the good-Smooth flame. The last gorgeous Smooth couple was Tomas & JT. There's been a dance-generation since they retired, and in that generation, people seem to have decided that Smooth is just a cross between Standard and Latin, and so if you can do those two styles, just mix 'em up, choreograph to appropriate songs, and you can do Smooth. Slawek and Marzena are the apotheosis of this kind of Smooth, with a deep background in Modern thrown in. Not that I'm opinionated or anything.

    BTW, Mr. 4 Styles, I'd love to hear about the characteristically Smooth components and nuances that you've seen in S&M, reflecting their training with Toni Redpath.
  19. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Agreed, not disputing that at all. However, I was never not aware of their strict "Standardness" when they were dancing, which did serve them beautifully when they danced in closed hold.

    Love Mayo & Michelle...
  20. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    then you must abhor Gary and Susan

    the intro to their showdance at ohio alone oozed of what i want to see!! emotion ,connection then movement

    Personally i favor the three dimension aspect that modern movements can add to smooth, so long as it is till connected between partners and suits the dance

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