Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wiggle Lovers Support Group

Came across this post from Paul Mandel re: “fusion” dancing. I’d like to echo its sentiments. My favorite part: “One of the best (3) dances I've ever had was to Secret.” We should start a Wiggle-Lovers Support Group. There is something amusingly shameful about admitting that one of your best dances was to Secret, by Maroon 5. (I've had my fair share of favorite dances to this song -- albeit many years ago.)

(The text is copied below.)


Fusion. Man, what a controversial topic. I don't usually write notes, but this is something I've thought a lot about and a few people have asked me to share.
So first, the music. Ask a musician what 'fusion music' is and they'll play you something like this: Dancers have decided to abscond with the name 'fusion' and start applying it to genres of music that already have names. This is akin to arbitrarily deciding to call England 'Australia' from now on because we never studied geography. You can dance to 'trip hop', 'acid jazz', 'nu jazz', 'ambient breaks', or 'dub step,' (1) but don't start confusing everybody by calling those things fusion. If you're really that desperate, come up with a new name based on naming conventions people are already using. Want to describe a song based on blues but incorporating electronic elements? Call it 'acid blues' or something, but stop being ambiguous.
Next, the dancing. Type 'define: fusion' into Google and you get "The process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity." I've never seen true 'fusion' dancing under that definition. I've seen, felt and done eclectic dancing, but at no point do things actually fuse; there are still bits of tango, blues, modern and swing just patched together.
Technicalities aside, what I have seen much more of is a shift away from the more classical values of dancing (technique, lines, dynamics) in favor of intensity and emotional connection to your partner. Compare to or Mario, Deborah, Homer and Christina are clear masters of the art forms they are representing. I'm not entirely sure what dance style Chris and Lessa are demonstrating mastery of, but they seem to be very intense and emotionally engaged about it.
Please note that this is is not a criticism of the danceform-currently-known-as-fusion. I have great respect for many fusion dancers and I in no way think that fusion and technique are mutually exclusive (2).
There's another argument that I've heard that dance aesthetics come from the music. You know how there are some songs that really 'swing' and make you want to swing dance and some that just don't? The idea is that there's a well defined and rigorous rhythmic, percussive and lyrical reason for that. We classify bands that figure out that reason as good dance bands. Similarly, I've heard Damon argue several times that if you go to a 'real' blues bar in the deep south where people with no training are blues dancing in the 'wild', you find better blues aesthetic than in many of the people who study blues dance twice a week. Somehow, the movements they're doing come directly from the music.
Now, Maroon 5 or Imogen Heap sound *very different* from Buddy Guy or Robert Johnson, and presumably, if the dance comes from the music, the dance 'should' look different as well. Rather than taking a cue from ballroom and slapping whatever dance aesthetic you want on top of whatever music you want, figure out what aesthetic and movements the music calls for and then do that.
That said, sometimes it's just fun to wiggle to Secret. One of the best (3) dances I've ever had was to Secret. But it wasn't 'blues' dancing. It wasn't even 'fusion' dancing. It was just dancing.Before Fusion can mature and be accepted by the dancing mainstream, it needs to stop trying to rename prexisting music styles and dance forms. The longer we do that, the longer it's going to take for fusion to actually happen and for us to come up with something truly new.
So please, for all our sakes, stop being confusing.
(3) best - most enjoyable and/or cathartic, i.e. the one i felt happiest after


Another great post that I’ve come across is here:

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