Танцор бальных танцев, помнящий боевые искусства и музыку — Пост Д.

Танцор бальных танцев, помнящий боевые искусства и музыку

ДЭНИЕЛ ПОСТ Сакраменто, Калифорния
Танцор европейских и латиноамериканских танцев, пианист, мастер боевых искусств.
Образование: компьютерные технологии и инженерия.
Эл.адрес: postster@gmail.com
Daniel J. Post
Ballroom/Latin Dancer, Pianist, and Martial Artist
City: Sacramento, CA
Education: BS Computer Science, in progress
Field: Systems & Embedded Software Engineering
Дэн пишет о том, как влюбился в бальные танцы, как предшествующий опыт уроков музыки в детстве и занятий боевыми искусствами обогатил его танцевание. Он анализирует влияние музыкального образования на способность танцевать, а так же влияние системности в боевых искусствах на становление танцора. Уроки музыки научили его вслушиваться в ритм и упорно выискивать основной ритм танца. Он приводит пример работы с танцем Ча-ча-ча. В процессе обучения танцам он ставил для себя вопросы: как улучшить танцевание, сколько нужно практиковаться, на чем необходимо сосредоточиться? Рассматривая структуру занятия по бовым искусствам, Дэн пришел к выводу, что структурированное обучение танцу является ключом к становлению успешного танцовщика. Он акцентирует внимание на необходимости личной, одиночной работы с собой, т.е. вне пары, замечая, что качественное менторство со стороны тренера сохраняет пару.
Дэниел рассказывает, как фокусировка на общих с партнершей задачах приносит удовольствие и прогресс на танцевальных тренеровках. Сейчас он вернулся на занятия по боевым искусствам с целью улучшить и обогатить свое танцевание. Он отмечает, что боевые искусства позволили ему развить танцевальные качества необходимые для танцев Танго и Пасодобль, принесли чувство естественности в исполнение танцевальных форм. Дэн приводит целый список взаимосвязей боевых искусств и бального танца, подтверждая это личным опытом.
Резюме составила Анна Климова
A Ballroom Dancer, Remembering Martial Arts and Music
I have no grand unifying theory of dance to share today; only some observations, opinions, and experiences to share about ballroom and Latin dance training, colored in large part from my previous experiences. Perhaps I should start with an introductory story. Among many other things I was involved in as a child, I was a pianist and martial artist. My mother, being a musician, thought all her children should learn to play the piano and sing. My parents decided that it would be a good thing for us (I have four siblings) to learn some self-defense skills, so off we all trundled down to the best studio the small town we lived in had to offer. I was ten years old at the time; I watched and learned, and developed from (what I consider to be) a young age. As I grew older, my siblings gradually stopped going, as they went off to college, developed other interests, and so on. Eventually I was the only one remaining. Six years into my training, I started testing (memory, endurance, and ability) for my black belt (it was a series; we had to test eight to ten times). Then it came time for me to go off to University—so I even had to take two grueling tests on one day to achieve my first degree black belt before I left.
Unfortunately, the school that I went to did not have a club for the martial art which I studied; lacking the free time to start and develop one myself, I soon found and fell in love with ballroom and Latin dancing.
I dove deeply into ballroom and Latin dance with all my heart, taking as many classes as I had time for—and then some. I recall, somewhat fondly, waking up a 5am for a 6am formation team practice—because our director thought we just weren't getting the piece quite right. I found partners, and participated in my first competitions. As I did this, I found less and less time for martial arts training, with my participation dwindling down to zero until recently.
As I developed into a dancer, I tried to remember and apply lessons learned from prior activities; from my time as a pianist I had a fairly good sense of music. For dances where I didn't (such as Cha-cha and some other Latin dances; I had never listened to much pop music, mostly classical and oldies) I found ways to learn the beat and character of the music and dance. For instance, in Cha-cha, I couldn't find the beat consistently. So I listened to Cha-cha songs repeatedly, perhaps for an hour, knocking on the nearest object or my head for the 'one' beat, then finding the rest of the beats, and so on. I immersed myself in all the music for hours, gaining a feel for the character and letting it become part of me. Having always been very focused on accomplishing things, I never spent a lot of time at parties, so I would be able to feel the music for maybe half a minute, then I wouldn’t be able to really get into the groove again. However, the more I listened to the music for enjoyment, sometimes just listening, sometimes tapping my foot, sometimes moving my body, the more I was able to connect to it in practice, to the point now where I feel I understand and can relate to most music, even different varieties in the same dance. I can enjoy an old, classic, slightly over-the-top-romantic Waltz, just as much as a more modern piece such as the lovely one from ‘Gladiator’. (There are so many great songs from new movies!)
As I started to dance more and more, the big question was how. How do I get good? How much do I practice? What do I focus on? Before I reveal some of the conclusions I came to, let me briefly explain the format of a typical martial arts class at the studio in which I trained. Here are the activities which we would engage in for an extended 1.5 hour class:
• Stretching and warm-up, 10-15 minutes
• Striking and kicking, 15 minutes, intense—ten of each move on each side
• Forms practice (martial arts dance)
• Joint-lock, pressure point, and throwing techniques (sometimes with falling)
• Occasionally: sparring, weapons practice, tumbling/falling, special topics
I believe a structured, diverse practice such as that will allow dancers to develop over a long period of time. I have seen people, and have on occasion myself, struggled with people trying to 'just get it right just once', and in doing so frustrate themselves and partners, rather than really getting into and enjoying the process. I believe that a reasonable amount of time should be dedicated to solo work, since if each dancer focuses on him or herself, long-term progress is possible. A structured practice is a key to reducing personality conflicts and increasing the value of the time put in. I was happy to recently find similar accounts in the book “Dancing to Your Maximum”, by Max Wilkelhuis. I am aware that some clubs operate on this basis, but it is not highly prevalent in the places I have practiced. Dance practice is much more couple-based rather than group-based; people come and go as they want, argue with each other, walk off, drink water, and so on. I believe that this sort of ineffective practice fosters more interpersonal conflict, especially if dancers are left to their own devices when they first start to train, as they get into bad habits quickly and never get out of them. My martial arts teacher worked hard to instill in his students three primary virtues: etiquette, patience, and practice. I believe the same apply to dance. Quality mentorship is the key here, to keep couples on a good path.
A few months ago, I started to implement such a more regular, structured, defined practice time—planning on 2-2.5 hours per session, 2-3 dances; and talking with my partner, discussing the prior session, agreeing before we start dancing what key concepts we want to work on, and so on. Since then, I have enjoyed more productive and enjoyable practice sessions. A lot of it is in having a finite set of things to work on, instead of feeling like I have to cover everything or chase every problem I feel. The other part is in establishing with my partner what we’ll be doing so we have expectations that are in harmony. Before, sometimes I had a different agenda than my partner, and I would want to do focused work on, say, the rotational momentum aspect of pivots, whereas she might have wanted to run rounds of all dances. Compromise still works to a degree, but if we both have agendas that will fill the whole session, we will both only get to do half of what we want and thus both are unsatisfied, and occasional power struggles ensue. This is no longer a significant problem.
Slightly prior to this, I decided to restructure my life, with new teachers and partner, as I felt I wanted to go in a different direction than I was going before. As such, I seriously thought about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to set about doing it. I decided to dedicate one weeknight to martial arts. My recent return to martial art training, one day a week has brought to me at least the following benefits, plus more I won’t list for brevity’s sake:
• Increased stamina and flexibility, better breathing habits
• Renewed focus on self and my own issues—generally no partner to take the fall
• Better ability to channel energy and the flow of movement
• More freedom of the body and mind
• Focus on doing it well and enjoying the movement, not doing it ‘right’
Notice the majority of them focus on the abstract emotional and mental aspects of the art. Indeed, tangentially, I find it ironic that there is an increased focus on the sport aspect of ballroom and Latin dance, to the point of being called DanceSport by a large number of people. As a martial artist, I never called myself a sportsman! Most do not. We did not need to say that we were fit or doing something ‘serious’, meaning non-trivial—it was implied by the 'martial' aspect and by the nature of what we do. It is also interesting seeing the 'DanceSport' trend somewhat reversing, and disappointing to see fragmentation develop in the ballroom/Latin world. But I digress.
Back to martial arts, I believe there are a number of emotional interpretations that I developed as a martial artist that directly apply to dance, especially Tango, and Paso Doble and some other Latin dances. In those, I feel proud, charismatic, and like I am the master of the room. I feel a strong similarity to my martial arts forms, with the strong, proud, efficient, sweeping, connected, relaxed then sharp movements. These emotions, I feel, come from a combination of all the aspects of the music and, even more, the characteristics of movement. Though I have tried to implement these attitudes from the beginning of my dancing career, my recent return to martial arts helped me bring it up a level. Naturally, I felt more confident and freedom in my forms, since I had a lot of experience performing them. (I remembered most of them quite well after a five-year break.) Capturing this feeling at the higher intensity helped me bring my energy and performance level up a notch in my dancing.
The lessons for ballroom and Latin that I have taken from martial arts are numerous, as the connection is strong, but I will attempt to list a few more that I think are highly relevant in today's landscape, or that have stuck in my mind a lot recently due to their influence on my development:
• Doing full choreography early is not bad—learning how to do it well takes a lot of practice and brings eventual maturity to the movement; you can't get good at a set of motions unless you practice enough to feel the flow. There is a certain freedom in repetition. Put another way, fundamentals are good for you, just like cream-of-wheat is. Sometimes you have to add raisins and sugar to make it enjoyable.
• Staying with the same choreography for a long time can be beneficial; I do the same martial arts forms that have been done by thousands of people for dozens of years (though they evolve slightly)—it's more about how you do it.
• Individual strengths must be developed in order for the couple to advance—so it is vital to assess individual's current abilities and opportunities for improvement.
• Dancers are more effective when they have clear concepts of what they are doing, what they want to do, and can analyze movement.
• To be free to move, one must feel free to fall (sometimes literally)—I see many people who don't know their true limits, physically and mentally, so get uncomfortable over ranges of movement not used in their every-day life. Part of my martial arts training is throwing and falling, and I have enjoyed more freedom of movement in dance since I started doing this more.
• Variety is key—be open to many rich different sources and types of information and ideas, and interpretations thereof. If there was just one main idea and that is all there is to it, this paper would be one sentence: “I learned to apply my learnings from martial arts to dance.”
Furthermore, specifically about dance (or anything else in life):
• Know why you are dancing.
• Know what you want to get out of dancing.
• Enjoy it! Dance isn't just about looking good—why not about feeling good too?
I would like to point out that these are just connections. Dance and martial arts are two different things. –But are they? Perhaps they really are true sisters. I have left out one fact until now: dancing is done to music. Martial arts… some people do too! Finally, through bad or ineffective teaching and practice, dance can bring misery. Yet I firmly believe through good teaching and practice methods, and a healthy outlook, dance can truly change people's lives for the better; it can bring physical and emotional benefits untold. I have experienced both sides of the coin. I will leave it to you to guess which one I prefer. If a beginning dancer asked me for general advice, I would say “find the courage to explore and change things until you feel you have potential for improvement, and joy in your daily experiences.”