Technique vs. Performance: What’s More Important?
Tips from the PROS is a series where artists share some of their advice on how to do it right. It explores the dance world and offers tips coming the best of the best.
In the years that I’ve been teaching and judging, people have often asked me: “How can I improve my overall performance?”, “Do you think I need to focus exclusively on my technique?”, “How can I be more present with my partner when I’m dancing?”, “Am I missing something in my choreography?”.
I’m writing this article to shed light on the subject and help you gain a better understanding of what is dance technique, performance, and how they intertwine. After all, I assume you want to be more than a regular dancer, you want to be a champion.
Technique Is The Base For Developing A Well-Rounded Dancer
Technique is a body of procedures and methods that are used in any specific field. In dancesport, we are referring to some basic steps and physical movements that build the foundation of your style. You can’t create and express complex emotions on the dance floor without technique.
Think of it like the sketch of a painting. If you want to use a very thin brush to add a drop of color, you need to put everything into that sketch and focus on every detail. Now I’m asking you: Do you want to nourish the relationship with your dance partner? Do you want to have the ability to enter into a state of flow? Improving your technique is a way to do it.
You don’t use technique to show technique. The human touch, the emotion, the sway, and the style of every dancer is expressed throughout the performance. Just as the human body has strong bones that stand as a bedrock to muscles and our well being, you need to have a strong technique that will give you the confidence and the spark to shine while you dance.
Performance Is The Centerpiece Of Dance
Performance is the sum of all the elements that come together in the act of dancing. What people are experiencing is you, performing. It’s a package. What I like to see, as a judge as well as a trainer, is good taste in your movement, personality, your beautiful posture on the dance floor, a nice change from a balanced to an overbalanced position, the connection in the couples, the outfit.
Dance technique is where your roots are. It helps you improve, progress, and keeps you in touch with what is new. A successful performance is just basic movements in an interesting way as opposed to doing a lot of things that make no sense.
The Connection Between Performance and Technique
The right mindset is vital in ballroom. What I say to my students is this: “If you don’t learn, you get old.” Develop your technique gradually by focusing on each new method that you practice. A lot of dancers get stuck in a particular loop. It’s what I call mainstream. They all look the same and do the same thing over and over again because it worked before so it has to work again.
Be open to transition, be yourself, and create new ways of expression. I want you to have personality and be special. I am a big fan of technique and I want to see surprising actions in a choreography. This leads to an extraordinary performance.
There is no way to separate technique from the performance. They are interconnected and you can’t emphasize just one of the two. I know it’s true that technique can be learned by everybody who wishes to be a ballroom dancer while performance is something more personal, but this where your personality is revealed. I have seen a lot of couples that start a dance in a terrible and tasteless way. They do a lot of crazy, bum, baff, puff things that I really don’t like. I want to see very clear information because this is how I recognize quality.
Together As One
Ballroom dancing revolves around two bodies coming together to act as one. It’s about the expression of oneself through another. It enhances your perception of the surroundings and of the music. The dance can’t happen outside your union even though each of you has its own part. It’s also about the exchange energy. When I look into your eyes I need to see your positive focus. You need to build momentum, to create energy before doing an action. Technique builds self-esteem, strength, and instills the ability to change and adapt. Performance is more like a work of art.
And since you made it this far, maybe you want to listen to the podcast in which I discuss this topic and more. Hope you enjoy it!
He's a typical Berliner - an open person and a fast-talker with lots of charm. He keeps a suitcase in his basement with trophies he earned over the years. A Dancing with the star judge, a TV presenter but most of all a champion maker!