Tag Archives: musicality

Musicality, movement quality and line

There really isn’t much dancing involved with my part in Sleeping Beauty.

That’s sort of by design.

There are four court men in Act I.

I am the only dancer. The other three are dads, and I think the notion of having to do any difficult steps would have frightened them away.

Our wives, like me, are dancers.

But in Act I, we’re basically props.

But that doesn’t mean we just stand there.

Because I am the lone dancer and most experienced performer of the court men … my lady and I are front and center. We have the most to do.

Even when you are performing more of a character role in a ballet, you can’t forget three important elements to what makes ballet, and dance in general, beautiful and graceful.

Musicality, movement quality and line.

With my part it means when and how you walk, gesture and pose.

Twice in the scene, we’re in lines, we halt and go into first arabesque. My lady and I are at the end of the line. No one in front of us.

Two questions run through my mind: Will our line look good to the audience? Is my knee straight when we tendue?

I know the latter is such a small thing, and the audience wouldn’t notice. But as a dancer, to me that’s important considering this is one of the few things we’re required to do that is balletic.

I don’t think people realize how much the three elements I’ve mentioned really are important to a dance performance.

Must of us focus on the steps and technique.

You can do all of the steps correctly, but if you don’t those three elements, you can really look bad performing.

If you don’t believe me, watch Dancing with the Stars.

That’s become my daughter’s and my guilty pleasure.

My daughter is amazed how many times I will mention whether or not I like a couple’s movement quality, comment on their music quality or line, and one of the judges will say basically the same thing.

They may not be dancing ballet, but those elements are just as important when you’re doing other forms of dance from contemporary, ballroom to even hip hop.

Confidence, musicality and jetes

Jete, coupe, assemble’ seems like a pretty easy combination, right?

My jetes have never been as clean as I’d want them to be, but they are improving.

Well, tonight the bombshell was dropped as we were learning parts of our school sketch (recital) dance. We’re about 90 percent of the way through, it’s kind of hard to describe except that it’s set to Requiem for a Dream (from Lord of the Rings: The Twin Towers) and includes elements of adagio, petite allegro and grande allegro with a lot of cool steps that I love (tour jetes, pirouettes, sissonnes, Russian pas de chats, ect…).

And despite the fact that some of the combinations are a little complicated and advanced (for me at least), I think I’ve done pretty well so far … the key phrase being so far,

So far, we’ve done all of the steps together as a group.

Then the bombshell was dropped.

Evidently, I have a short solo part where I come front and center. The girls split off to the sides with their own little short combination.

I come front with the jete, coupe, assemble’ right and left combination.

That means upping my game in the next month in three areas that need work: Confidence, musicality and jetes.

I found I do much better in a group. When it’s me out there, the confidence drops. I did see this coming. When you’re the only male in a dance, there comes that point in time where you become the center of attention. And that hasn’t happened since I was in a pas de deux in an in-studio performance.

And this time I’ll be on the same stage where we performed Cinderella this past weekend. And we’ll be in front of a larger audience than the one I performed in a pas de deux in front of.

My musicality is improving. It’s much better than I thought … but when I’m nervous I rush things, and when I think too much I go too slow. It’s so much easier for me to stay on the music when I’m in the group.

Now, if I can just clean up those jetes.

You’d think I’d have a little more confidence considering the roles I’ve performed in Nutcracker and a few of the other ballets I’ve been in.

But this is by far the most complicated dance I’ve been in. And this one puts me front and center.

It’s a fun dance, but at the same time, a little scary.

Beginning-intermediate confidence boost

I’ll go ahead and say it, I will be glad when the company kids return from summer intensives far and wide.

They challenge me. And I miss the pace of the class when they’re all there.

But I’ve come to appreciate the open beginner-intermediate class I’ve attended the last two Tuesday nights as makeups for missing the classes I’m signed up for this summer session.

My habit of watching other people and my musicality (or the lack thereof) have been two of the things I’ve needed to work on most, along with spotting and my tendency to be a little sloppy when dancing with the young ones.

Tonight even moreso than last week, there has been no one else to look at for a reference. Despite the fact there were two teenage girls who dressed the part, the two most experience dancers in the room were me and a preteen girl who is in Ballet IV.

I was, as scary as this sounds, the leader of the class tonight. Even the preteen girl watched me at times to remember the combination and keep in time with the music … that includes a combination that included balances’, a pas de bouree and a pirouette (the preteen girl and I were the only ones who’d ever done a full pirouette before). 

The combination was relatively a simple one, yet my balances’ have always sucked (to be frank). Yet I was the one who kept on dancing when just about everyone else temporarily stopped in the middle of the combination, and restarted by the timing of my balances’. In years past, to be honest, despite knowing the combination, I would have stopped, too, without another dancer present to keep me in time with the music and to use as a reference point.

It may not sound like much to more experienced dancers out there (especially if you’re a professional dancer or young pre-pro company dancer who might be reading my blog out of sheer boredom). But the fact that I was the leader, the fact that I kept dancing when others had stopped and the fact I was actually in time with the music is as much a major breakthrough as doing triple pirouettes would be.

I’m hoping I can carry some of that confidence and musicality into the intensive week if I’m able to take it and the company classes when they get cranked up at the start of the season.

And by the way, I’ve found this class extremely helpful when it comes to cleaning up technique!