I started to think about dance movement and the ebb and flow of tension.
Can A Late Starter In Ballet Achieve Fluidity?
Perfect control is the control of tension.
A dancer learns how to be tense...then not tense.
There is a pas de deux between positions and movement. Ballet positions are practised for years!
Whether they are Vaganova, Cecchetti, R.A.D., or some other newer system, they are positions integrated into almost every class, exam, choreography...
The student dancer imitates, for years, the positions.
Yet ultimately all those positions are -- movement! In adagio, allegro, grand allegro -- it's all movement.
I learned the most about ballet from non-dancers.
True! I learned the most about dance from a friend whom I'd given tickets (back in the days when I could) to not only ballets but to a few progressive choreographic workshops danced by professionals and senior students.
"She moves like water." A remark about Karen Kain way back. This dance observer saw her in Swan Lake, and then in a workshop where she danced "Emily" choreographed by Anne Ditchburn.
Years later I got a good review from critic Deidre Kelly who remarked that in my choreography the dancers' arm movements never came to rest, but defied positioning in a constant flow.
When I started to write this blog, and found myself describing plies, tendus, and ronde de jambe exercises, I found myself careful to repeat that tension in barre exercises, is fluid.
Muscles must be held, as strong as a muscle can. At the top of a jump, at the height of an arabesque.
And, let go immediately! If needed, or if not, gradually, according to the need of a safe landing, or to stay in time with the music, or for a dramatic moment.
The ocean reminded me of this. Every wave is unique. The tension of the waves interact with other waves flowing in or out from different directions. Intercepted by undercurrents, blocked or augmented.
And dance is like that. Every performance is different with new energies, new tensions, new joys. Ditto for the musicians.
And isn't that great? Every show is like "you had to be there".
The audience is not aware of the dancer's incredible control. The audience is mesmerized by the ebb and flow of the tension, and release, in the technique and the artistry of its presentation.
I don't know why I'm thinking all this tonight. Maybe it was the booming crashing thunderstorm I woke up to this morning.
Here is one (in a million) example of that fluidity.