Raising the Quality of Dance

In Northern Norway, dance has developed out of love.  In the past, Nordlendinger who wanted to learn to dance had to teach themselves.  To have social dances they then had to teach others.  This has served Northern Norway well, bringing dance to people who previously would not have had the opportunity to learn.

Because people have taught themselves to dance, and then dubbing themselves as ‘instructors’ to teach others without any proper training, only steps have been the focus of learning.  Unfortunately, technique and styling was not learnt, most likely as they are hard to self-teach through books and video.  This has created an imbalance in the dance scene in Northern Norway.  Dancers know many steps from years of community instruction however, the lack of style and technique is stunting the growth of dancers.

The problem with the quality of dance in Northern Norway

Knowing and dancing a lot of steps does not make a good dancer.  In fact, knowing all the steps in the world will not make you more impressive than a dancer who can dance a basic step with perfect styling and technique.  The reason Champions are champions because they dance the simplest of steps correctly.  Dancing correctly does not have anything to do with being ‘pompous’, but like all sports, it is about safety, longevity and integrity.

For example:
To kick a football into a goal you can ‘just kick’ or you can set the ball, step back to take your stance, pick your direction, breathe, wait for the right moment, stride into your kick to create power and speed, kick the ball with a certain part of your foot to create spin and direction, and follow through.

The same with dance: you can ‘just dance’ or you can dance!

Why should the quality of dance be raised?

Safety – like all movement there is a right way and a wrong way to dance.  Dance is not natural to the body, we have never needed it to run away from tigers.  Proper technique needs to be applied to keep the body safe.  One of the biggest problems people have in dance are knee injuries – even the simplest move of dancing forward needs to have technique.

Longevity – Learning to dance by just learning steps is going to prevent you from progressing.  The higher you go in dancing the more technique is required and so if technique is not being used in your dancing you can only stay at a basic level.

Often dance steps that are being taught as ‘advanced’ are not actually advanced.  They are just 5 basic steps put together.  The only reason why they could be considered ‘advanced’ is because you have to remember the order of the five steps.  An advanced step is about the timing, style and technique that is required in order to carry out the step.

For example:
In the world of swimming, backstroke can be basic or advanced – whether a beginner or a champion is swimming it, it is still backstroke.  The thing that makes backstroke advanced is the technique applied to it.

Integrity – Social dancing is no longer considered just a way to ‘pick up chicks’.  It has become a bona fide activity for fitness, education and lifestyle.  The quality of dance is attractive to many different governments, institutions and organisations.  In fact, the intelligence of a civilisation is relative to its integrity of culture and art.  We all know that Northern Norway is culturally mature with music, art and theatre – dancing is a way that we can show the world just how sophisticated we really are.

How to raise the quality of dance

The dance instructors in Northern Norway must all be respected for their time and commitment, and for having the courage to ‘get the ball rolling’.  Now that a good dance environment has been established, the one thing that will raise the quality of dance is to expect more from our instructors.  Expect technique, expect styling and expect proper training that is relative to the rest of the world.  In return you will need to support them, help them to become recognised in the community for the work they do and demand that the governments and authorities value and support them.

How to tell if you are being taught dance properly

To raise the quality of your own dancing you need to choose an instructor that teaches dance properly.  There are three main elements of dance that need to be in focus when learning – technique and styling, lead/following and footwork.  If these three elements are not being taught in your classes, then maybe you should find another instructor who will give you value for money.

Here are some things to watch out for:

Bad Instruction:

Just Steps – classes that teach just steps.

Just routines – classes that don’t teach how to lead/follow every step

Good Instruction:

Technique/style – classes that teach for the whole body – arms, feet, head, diaphragm, etc

Lead/follow – classes that teach to lead/follow from the diaphragm

Latin – classes that teach Cuban Motion is created from the diaphragm
(It is a misconception that Cuban Motion comes from the knees and the hips.  Cuban Motion is the soul of Latin dance and therefore needs to come from your soul – the diaphragm.  Cuban Motion is about the flow of energy through your body.  As Latin dances are ‘earth dances’ the energy flows downwards.  If you are taught Cuban Motion from the knees your energy doesn’t have far to go before it hits the floor.  But if the Cuban Motion starts in your diaphragm it will travel through your body to your waist, your hips, your knees and your feet giving a continuous, elegant, flow to the earth.)

Ballroom – classes that teach using momentum, weight, gravity, drive and the diaphragm to dance.

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