Dance Language

By Sara White

Usually I seem to have a fairly ‘OK’ grasp on the English language.  I make the odd spelling mistake, I have a penchant for random apostrophe abuse and I do sometimes have a problem with my ‘See, Think, Say’ filter, but generally, I can make myself understood.  Right up until the moment that I am standing in the middle of the room on a class night trying to explain some random dance notion that is going through my head!  

It’s not the basics I have a problem with.  The ‘put this there and then do that’ stuff is pretty much OK, if you ignore the teeny weeny ‘Left/Right’ issues… The stuff that seems really difficult to put into words, is the stuff that isn’t thought or felt in words.  Dance in all its forms, has been described by a million clever people, with a gazillion beautiful words but is it ever truly captured, in words, in such a way that those who have never experienced the true emotion of a dance can fully understand?  I often find myself explaining something using random sound effects because they get ever-so-slightly closer to what I am trying to say than words alone can bring me.  So depending upon what we are teaching the room may well be full of ‘whoosh’, ‘weeeeeeeee’ or ‘zhoooooom’ rather than ‘this’, ‘that’ or ‘the other’.  Last week’s class was a little more ‘ah, ah, ah, ah, oooooh’ with an occasional ‘pant, pant, sigh’ and a few slow exhalations for good measure but we have our fair share of ‘whizz, bang, pop’ too!

The problem isn’t always because there isn’t an adequate word to describe what it is that I’m trying to say, sometimes there is an exactly perfect word…  But I seem to have a thieving word gremlin lurking in my head waiting for just the right moment to steal the very word I am trying to say. And then he replaces it with the most inappropriate almost-but-not-quite word he can find, which can leave me (and Stanley!) looking at the words that drop from my mouth in total horror!  Luckily at Buckden our dancers are very good at the ‘Guess which word I’m trying to say’ game and help me out massively.  Not always right, not always appropriate, but always with gusto and always helpful… ish!

I believe though, that despite the difficulty I have in getting my words right sometimes, that people become dancers when they begin to understand the feel of a dance.  When they begin to worry less about the mechanics and submerge themselves more into the emotion.  When the music, the movement, the partner, place and space in time combine to create a moment of magic…  And that can be fairly difficult to describe in words for sure!  Obviously good technique is the first and most important step in the journey towards this Dance Nirvana and our classes are always structured to emphasise the technique behind everything we teach, but that doesn’t prevent me from striving to add an insight into the feeling of what we teach.  Which is why not only do we lead, follow, place, step and spin in our classes, we also ooze, flow, sigh, pant, pause, breathe, stop breathing, hold £50 notes, thrust and occasionally, blush in our classes too!

It has been suggested that I should collect my ‘Sara-isms’ for the day I decide to write my book, so feel free to comment with the ones that have stuck in your mind… However cringe-worthy they may be! 


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2 Responses to Dance Language

  1. Always love your blog posts Sara – and your classes 🙂

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