dance

Dance related content. This tag is new as the homepage was dance-only before.

Stop sign from a crossroad in Salzburg City

Using Constraints to spark creativity in Dance

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

Featured Image for the "Slow Down in Practise" post

3 reasons for slowing down in your dance practise

Quality of movement is a term that comes up often when you are talking with professional dancers. Depending on who you are talking to, it might have a slightly different meaning, but in general it refers to how good a movement is executed. In my personal point of view this translates directly into how beautiful a move looks. Some people might have a different opinion on this. For the sake of this blog, we will ignore those other opinions. My blog, my rules. 🙂

B-Boy dancing with text overlay about 3 reasons to slow down in dance practise

No matter if we learn a new move or try to polish an old one, doing it slow helps us being more conscious about what we do instead of relying on the autopilot to take over. The more moves we have the higher the chances that we apply techniques of another similar move instead creating the muscle memory for the new or changed one. While the results can be quite as good, we miss the topic of creating or polishing.

An additional benefit of moving slow is that we focus more on details of the movement. Being clear about all the details of a move results in cleaner execution.

Last but not least: moving slower gives us more time to come up with new ways.

If you have different experiences with moving slow while creating or learning, feel free to let us know in the comments.

A pendulum over a hand

The Pendulum Concept

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.

Direction sketch by FraGue

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.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You should understand every move as an abstract set of instructions that can be applied in different ways.” quote=”You should understand every new move you learn as an abstract set of instructions that can be applied in many different ways.” theme=”style2″]

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 is thaught 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.

Dance Concepts on FraGue’s Blog

As I am still working on my book about dance concepts I will start to put some of the content online to test how it resonates with readers and to get some additional feedback. If you have suggestions or something is not easy to understand, let me know in the comments or send me an email.

For today I give a little introduction about what dance concepts do in my opinion and why you should learn to work with them.

A dance concept gives you the freedom to explore the music and movement without thinking to much about technique or moves.

It gives you direction about the creation of your dance or creation of your moves. This can happen in the moment you dance = freestyle or beforehand in a planned manner = choreography. Almost all the concepts that I know can be applied in both ways.

The first concept that I will introduce today is very easy to explain but gives you a ton of opportunities to work with. Acutally it is the root of all the basic concepts I will introduce further down the road.

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

Sounds fancy but it is not that complex. Instead of learning a new movement and think of it as set in stone you should look deeper into what it does and apply the idea of it, instead the move itself.

For Example: in breaking we have a step that is called the salsa step. It goes by different names in different places but salsa step is the most common one. Instead of thinking Kick – Step – Side – Back : Repeat, you should think: one kick and three steps, then repeat. Now you have a easy set of instructions that you can apply. You are free in directions, rhythm and size. In this way the salsa step alone gives you endless possibilities to create.

Playing the missing Instrument

At the Red Bull Beat Riders Camp in 2007 we had a lot of discussions about topics related to dance and life in general. One evening was about musicality in dance. B-Girl Asia 1 made the following statement:

When dancing I don’t follow the music. It is more like I am playing the missing instrument to the track.

While Asia 1 is really doing what she says she is doing, the same statement is often used by other people to justify the fact that they are off-beat and not listening to the music while dancing.

The thing is: improvising an instrument to an existing piece of music is not as easy as it may sound. You can not just do “whatever you want”. To make such an endeavour successfull you have to follow the rules of the music played. Using it as an excuse to dance without a relationship to the music is disrespectful to the people who can actually do it. There are people out there who can pull it of. Asia 1, who made the original quote, is one of them. If you are not, don’t worry – all is good. But please don’t make claims you are doing it, when you have trouble hearing the music or you just don’t care enough.

#thinklikeamusician

Why you should dance to the whole song

In workshops or interviews with OGs of our dances you hear the phrase “back in the days we danced to the whole song” a lot. I am sure their reasons were different, but here is a list of reasons why we should dance to the whole song.

  1. A good song has different parts that can shine through our dance. If we don’t dance to them all, we miss out on opportunities.
  2. The longer your work with a song, the better you understand it.
  3. We dance for a longer period of time. That helps our stamina.