I wanted to share with you this lecture I found by dance great, Donnie Burns. He dives into what dancers need beyond technique. In the video, he uses Cha Cha as an example – yet a lot of his advice can and should be used for all ballroom and latin dances. I’ve focused in on a couple key points he made that I don’t want you to miss!
“Dancing is not only steps, no more than acting is only words.” (1:14)
It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it – especially when it comes to dancing. Some people may believe that the more moves they know, the better dancer they’ll be. This is simply not the case. Professionals work on their basic steps more than any other step they’ve learned. How you dance something makes a major difference.
“[Know] your subject…”(5:55)
Knowing the history of the dance and the music is actually very helpful in learning a dance. “Knowing all that is great and all, but what do I do with it once I know it?”, you might ask. Well, that’s why it’s important to learn the e-l-e-m-e-n-t-s of each dance. Break it down. What steps are involved and to what timing? Until you’ve investigated and learned aspects, it will be difficult to fully understand a dance.
“One of the greatest noises [in dancing] is the silence…” (9:56)
Not ‘attacking’ the dance, but taking your time to feel your way through your movement will make all the difference in how grounded you’ll be. Focus on what you do IN-BETWEEN each step and how you transition your body weight. Your body will begin to gain extreme awareness and you’ll learn to isolate your movements.
“It’s the difference between people who move and people who move you.” (13:22)
Ever watch a dancer who was very skillful and able to demonstrate great technical ingenuity but their performance was just – lacking? Personally I prefer dancers that send chills up my spine, make me shrill with laughter or have my eyes tear up. Great dancers stir emotions in us, so keep that in mind and remember to connect to your partner and your audience. This is a topic I go into more detail with in my eBook Passion Driven Practice, where I give tips on how to do just that.
“Everyone has ice that has to be melted.” (32:06)
I love this statement. When we connect to our partner through relaxing ourselves, being grounded (physically by connecting lower) and open to our partner. Getting to that point does take practice because there is so much else going on in our minds. Being present with our partner is equally as important as the steps you are doing.
Which quote of his do you find most helpful to your dancing and why? Please share with a comment below!
Want more tips for your dancing? Click here to subscribe to my newsletter!