Coach is always stressing the need for clarity, contrast, “coloring” …. Taking full advantage of the slows, giving them their full value; filling the music and filling the space, the quicks rapid fire and sharp.
Nothing takes the excitement and anticipation out of a dance more than having it all on the same level of intensity, coming off washed out and 2-dimensional … not even black and white, just a forlorn “blah”.
Musicality and Expression each have their part to play, but a key factor in Color is Timing–not just knowing your steps, but knowing the value of each step.
Which means you have to count. And of course, one of my major challenges is COUNTING.
Let’s be very clear here …. I know my steps, I can picture the choreography in my head, but I’ve only ‘kind of” got the correct count. I cannot tell you how many times The Icon has stopped me dead in the middle of a sequence and demanded that I count it out for him. And more times than not, I’ve been counting wrong.
Timing is not a hit or miss thing—it needs to be precise. You need to know your count and where you’re supposed to be and it’s really amazing how the correct timing helps you do that (duh).
Basically, all steps are pretty much the same, but what makes each one different? What gives them their flavor? Their sparkle? What brings them to life? One essential component is Timing.
There are times when Coach just stands there and shakes her head, fighting to keep a straight face. She calls me an “artist” because of the way I come up with such innovative ways of doing the strangest things when I dance. For instance, she doesn’t understand how my body can be going one way and my head another. Or the times when all of my heel leads decide to go on vacation right in the middle of a waltz or foxtrot.
(That just might explain why, after all these years, I still look like Gumby when I dance. On second thought, let’s just say I probably make Gumby look good … oh, sometimes I just totally crack myself up).
But it’s Coach’s keen eyes and sharp ears that catch it–when I actually do count loud enough for anybody to hear me, what my mouth is saying doesn’t match what my feet are doing. I may be saying the correct timing, slow (1-2) quick (3) quick (4), but the body is doing a steady, flat line dut dut dut dut.
Coach is quiet for a moment, then looks at me and asks me to s-i-n-g the count (as in slooowwww, quickquick).
I’m a musician, at one time aspired to be a concert pianist. Tempo — Full notes, quarters, 8ths and 16ths; tinkling grace notes; tempo markings implying character … animato, tranquillamente, furioso — the dynamics — largo, lento, adagio; whispering or booming baseline; agile melody weaving in and out–the elements of the music, phrasing, going from pianissimo to forte, crescendo, diminuendo; strong chord at the end of a phrase, all start coming back and out of nowhere, I seem to have made the connection.
As a pianist, you express the music through the keys of the piano.
As a dancer, you express the music through the steps of the dance.
WOW. I think I need to go think about this. See you later ….