Chinese Proverb

"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." - Chinese Proverb.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Baroque Dance Workshop

I attended a Baroque dance workshop on Saturday that Clayton had recommended so I could learn how to feel the rhythm of the Bach minuets that I was working on in the Suzuki books. I also happened to run into my teacher Adam and his fiance there, and my co-worker's teacher as well! She was a very cool person to meet! :).

For me, it was a very fun workshop, we learned how to dance a Minuet, Bourre and Gavotte. Although my husband was complaining a lot!
  • He complained that the instructor wasn't "counting in" correctly (dancers count in 5-6-7-8 and musicians count in 1-2-3) and was also showing the lead's footwork incorrectly, i.e. she kept changing the steps for the lead's footwork. 
  • Also, it's common knowledge for an instructor to use the terminology "lead" and "follow" instead of "man" and "women" in partner dancing because a "lead" can be either a man or women and vice verse, but the instructor wasn't using using the norm. I suspect the instructor was a musician first and a dancer second.
  • At one point my husband commented rather loudly that the musicians should play a few short measures before starting the piece so we would know when to start dancing, and the instructor overheard and asked the musicians to do so (my husband is a loud mouth...*sigh*).

Although, ask any musicians or bands who play for partner/social dancers regularly, and they will agree that it is quite different playing for partner or social dancers than people who just listen to music.
For one, pieces need to stay fairly short, because dancers don't want to be stuck with the same person for a long length of time and the average person doesn't have great stamina. Too many slow pieces, and the energy on the dance floor dies. Also, there has to be tempo changes between sets or pieces, otherwise playing five or six fast tempo pieces is a sure fire way to clear the dance floor. Since these pieces were played primarily for social dancing, I wonder if those factors affected how those pieces were created.
  • I would suspect it would, since wearing wigs, heavy clothing (dresses with petticoats, etc), heavy perfume (no deodorant), no air conditioning, etc. would be fairly uncomfortable.
    • Ugh - I would have hated to live in that time period! Although the idea of the grandeur, ornamentation, and "lavish" lifestyle does have a romantic appeal to me! :).
  • I would also suspect the faster tempo'd pieces were to test the ability of the dancers, like it does currently, since only dancers with good technique can dance to faster pieces. I think the instructor mentioned that the pieces were danced by nobility in court, so I think it would be safe to assume that it would be a way for them to show off their skills and gain respect from their peers and court officials.
    • In Lindy Hop if a couple can dance to a song that is 200+ bps, than they're considered to be an advanced dancer or if an individual can dance to a fast tempo doing solo Charleston footwork and movement . 
  • I think these dances were mostly a social dance, so I'm not sure when these dances branched off to become solo movement, e.g. ballet.
    • For Lindy Hop/Swing dancing, Charleston and Jazz movement is the solo counterpart of partner dancing, but it's very intertwined, as a couple can do Charleston and Jazz movement while partnering. 

Example of a couple's minuet:

The instructor also kept saying, "look at your partner!" Very obvious to partner dancers, but to someone who has never danced a partner dance, a person looses a lot of connection when they are not looking at each other since connection between partners is made visually, physically and aurally.
  • A person can't be a great partner in partner-dancing unless they have good solo movement (mediocre - yes, great - no); however, a solo dancer can't be a good partner dancer if the don't have the skills or knowledge to create a connection, i.e. there is a lead-follow connection that most solo dancers have never experienced or know how to do well.
    • My husband joked, "just because we're dancing Baroque, doesn't mean your dancing needs to be broke!" since I wasn't doing any lead-follow connection, but I did at the end since my husband was giving dirty looks and getting grumpy! Lol! :). 
      • My husband and I don't work well together and are highly competitive, so we've always had to get different dance partners! :).

Ironically, the other day, I was complaining my "follow-arm" was hurting, and my husband commented that my identity was still that of a dancer and not a musician since I should have said, "ow, my bow arm!" Anyway, that was kind of a shock to me, since right now I'm more passionate about learning about the cello and my priority when practicing is cello first and dancing second, which is driving my husband nuts since he wants to go out to dance and I want to stay home and practice cello!

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