Category: dance concepts

In this category you find all the posts that are related to conceptual work in dance.

#danceconcepts

Creation & Assessement

The two halves of the brain discuss

Why do many people get stuck when they try to create new moves or routines? The answer is simple, but its impact is often underestimated, and therefore, people tend to ignore it.

Creation and analysis/assessment are very different processes:

In creation mode, you want the ideas to flow freely.
Creativity is what you need.

In assessment mode, you need to analyse your results from creation.
Logic is taking the lead here.

A popular scientific theory says that different sides of your brain are responsible for these two different tasks. And they don’t work well together. So if you try to do both at the same time, you are doing both inefficiently.

I can not comment if this theory is right or not, because I lack the scientific understanding. But I know that I work better when I only create at one time and judge later.

When you get stuck in your creation process, try to get rid of the voice in your head that wants to judge immediately. Film yourself and do that later. You will see the differences.

Adding depth with decorations

moves talking about how to improve the basic move

Today’s topic is how to make your moves more sophisticated by adding decorations to the body parts that are not having an active role in the movement you are doing.

What do I mean by active role? A leg that you are standing on has the job to support your body weight. Therefore you can not use it for something else because you will fall. The other leg, however, might carry no weight at this time and can be used to create exciting shapes or positions that are not present in the first move.

To identify the body parts that have no essential job in the move you are doing you can look at the following points as a starting point, but soon you will be able to spot possibilities to add decorations quickly.

  • A leg that does not carry weight can always be used.
  • Arms that are just swinging loosely or do a repetitive movement can do something more spectacular.
  • The upper body can be utilised if it does not have its own movement going.
  • It is the same for the hip, chest, shoulders and head.
  • You can also add additional layers by adding a bounce to a move that does not have one.

So what to do with these lazy body parts? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Just add an exciting pose for them.
  • You can foreshadow where they will go by bringing them already half-way there.
  • You can add a countermovement by putting them in the opposite direction of where they will go next.
  • Add an isolation.
  • Add a pop.
  • Add a wave.
  • Anything else you can come up with.

There are a lot of possibilities. If you only use some of them, your moves still grow a lot. Try to find your own ways of decorating your moves. This is a big step towards creating a recognisable style.

The imaginary material of the floor

Another idea that helps you explore new possibilities and transform your freestyles or choreographies is to work with imaginary attributes of the floor.

What this means is you style your movement with the goal to create the illusion of dancing on a certain kind of underground. It can be defined through simple adjectives like:

  • sticky
  • slippery
  • muddy
  • hot
  • cold
  • dusty
  • unstable
  • magnetic
  • burning
  • everything you can come up with

or by a more vivid image:

  • dancing on raw eggs
  • in a swamp
  • in the desert
  • on a frozen lake
  • stepping on chewing gum
  • and whatever more you can imagine

You will execute your moves in a different way if you immerse yourself into the idea. This concept is very close to storytelling, but it gives you just one idea to work with, instead of a whole plotline.

The only tricky point in this one is that it only works if you commit and believe in the image that you want to create. That is not a thing for everyone, but I strongly recommend you give it a try, as being able to believe in your concept/story/idea will help you to improve your performance-abilities a lot.

Four Corners

A sketch of a square with the titlle "four corners"

Four Corners is a concept that helps us to break free of a static front and helps us to explore different directions and rotations within a step or a freestyle round.

Here is how it works:

  • We envision ourselves standing inside a square or rectangle.
  • When dancing, we try to hit the corners of the square with every move.
  • The order of the corners does not matter.
  • In the strict version, we need to hit every corner before we can hit a corner a second time.
  • Sometimes it’s also ok to chill and hit corners multiple times, when you are not in the mood to keep track of which ones you already touched.

When you want to drill one specific move: take only this move inside the rectangle and find all directions and rotations possible.

Or be free in the selection of your moves and use it as the design criteria for your freestyle.

The concept is very similar to the Pendulum, that I covered earlier. Both give you a guideline for your dance by defining the directions. If we look at this idea close enough we see that the geometric shape does not make a difference. You can use a triangle, a star, an octagon or whatever with the instructions above. Play with it or make it a group activity and challenge each other.

The 8-ball concept

The 8-ball is a concept to create new patterns of steps based on figure eight. I heard about this idea the first time from b-boy Alieness who taught an 8-ball six step at Circle Prince Croatia. I can not remember the exact year, to be honest.

While there are multiple different 8-ball steps (like the aforementioned 8-ball six step), the concept follows only one simple rule:

You take a series of steps/moves and combine them in a way that they flow in both directions without interruption.

In the original idea, the creators tried to emulate the figure eight as a path on the floor. Today most people consider a step to be an 8-ball when you follow the rule above.

And because it is easier to understand when you see it, I embed a video from Poe One, from Style Elements crew, below. He demonstrates multiple steps that were created with the 8-ball idea in mind.

Poe One teaching 8-ball footwork

Using Constraints to spark creativity in Dance

Stop sign from a crossroad in Salzburg City
Constraints in dance help to spark creativity

When we want something but have limited resources to make it happen, we usually find creative ways to get what we want. That is the essence of creating artificial constraints for our dance practise.

Artists and creative entrepreneurs use the technique of artificial constraints to spark creativity in their work with great success. To use this method in dance we give ourselves limited options of what we can do. Depending on the purpose of our practise we can either delete some things from our repertoire or only allow very limited options..

As an example: Most of us have so-called fallback moves. There are the moves that we know in and out. The moves we can execute perfectly, no matter the circumstances. If those are too predominant in our freestyle we give ourselves the constraint of not using them at all.

There are a series of constraints that are common:

  • You might not use specific parts of your body
  • You might only use specific parts of your body
  • no/only moves while standing up
  • no/only jumping moves
  • no/only moves while crouching
  • no/only moves on the floor
  • hands might not touch the floor or must always touch it
  • same with the feet
  • hands and feet must always touch the floor
  • certain ways in the space are a must or forbidden
  • the phrase must always turn to on side or it must not
  • one part of your body is glued to the floor or another bodypart
  • every movement must be initiated with the same part of your body

This list is of course not complete and it can never be, because you can come up with your own constraints and you should. It’s your dance, not somebody elses.

Let us know your favourite practise constraints in the comments.


Dig deeper into dance concepts with the following posts:
Basic questions to ask every Move | Conquer the Space | Pendulum

The Pendulum Concept

A pendulum over a hand
photo by sassi via pixelio.de

photo from sassi / pixelio.de

Pendulum is a pretty easy concepts that is very similar to Equilibrium. A pendulum goes from one side to the other and back again. So this is what we use as the guideline to create our dance.

I use two versions of pendulum:

Basic Pendulum: You make a move or a way to the one side, come to a stop and go to the other side. That is all you need to start creating with basic pendulum. The reach, the way to go and the speed are all yours decide. And don’t forget to dance your ways from one side to the other.

Turning Pendulum: Here are no ways or moves to the sides but we use rotation instead. You are doing a rotation to one side, stop and continue to the other side. You decide how far and how fast you turn. I tend to do most of the rotations slow to give me the time to fill it up with a lot of moves, but that is only personal preference.

This is an easy one, enjoy it and get creative without thinking to much. The concept stuff is here to set us free in the dance, not cage us.

Fill in the Blanks

Fill in the Blanks is a simple concept to create variation within your vocabulary of movement. It works with every movement that has multiple parts. In between two parts of the same move there is some free “space” where we can insert something new.

Let’s take any regular two step movement as an example. It consists of two steps. By filling in the blank we would add an additional movement between step 1 and step 2 and therefore create a more advanced version of the original movement.

If you apply this idea to some of your moves, you will see it opens up a lot of possibilities for advancing your stuff.

conquer the space – an introduction

Using the space that is available for your dance is one of the most widespread concepts out there. What it means is that you consciously work with the space that surrounds you.

This can be as easy as trying to remain stationary or being everywhere in the space at some time during your dance or as difficult as following a predefined path with a set speed or chasing an opposing dancer in a battle.

Using a lot of space in your rounds results in a more dynamic look compared to being stationary. In a performance setting you can guide the audience towards important things in your performance by strategically changing place to let them know about a change in your story.

To get started with conquering the space around you pay attention if you favor stationary movement or moving through the space. Try to find a balance with those two and try to move in directions that you don’t use normally.

A simple exercise to improve your movement is to mark a path or form on the floor and try what you can do with your dance by following it. I will give you more complex instruction on this concept in the future and some additional exercises in the newsletter. For now, try the “follow the path” exercise to get used to using the space for a specific task.

The basic questions to ask every Move

This post is a follow up to last weeks introduction article about dance concepts. I introduced the following key-principle.

You should understand every move as an abstract set of instructions that can be applied in different ways.

Yo, right. But what do I do with that information?

When you see every movement you learn in this way, there are certain basic things that you can alter. This gives you a lot of possibilities how to apply this move in different ways.

I’d like to call this basic things that we can alter “the basic questions that we ask every move”. Of course this is only a metaphor as we do not really ask, but I love the dance = language metaphor and will entertain it a lot in the following posts. So it is better to get used to it.

Let’s get to the questions:

The question of direction. How does it look when presented from different angles. This includes choosing different orientation in the space as well as rotating during the move.

The question of speed. What happens when you execute it faster or slower. Every move has a certain speed imprinted to it, that is set by it’s traditional connection to the music. But often a change to this brings really interesting results.

The question of energy. How does a move change when I reduce or increase the amount of energy used. Energy is not always directly related to speed. You can do every movement with a different intention and amount of force. This changes the movement itself.

The question of size. Size does matter in dance. There is a big difference if you reach out in the space as big as possible or try to keep the movement small.

The question of rhythm. How does a change in rhythm change the movement? Like with speed, most moves come with a basic rhythm attached to it. This is usually the rhythm the moves are taught with. But this does not mean that it is the only way to do it. Change the rhythmic phrasing of the move and get some interesting variations for free.

By exploring all the possibilities above you create a whole world of moves from within one movement.