Do you impress or thrill?
When a person dedicates herself to dancing and develops that artistic facet, over time and over the years, she discovers her own personality as a dancer. The being that has been inside her since she started walking shows itself, little by little, in all its facets, with all its nuances and its essence.
You can and should play many characters on stage.
You can tell different stories while you dance, but there will always be something that is typical of your being, and that cannot be hidden, no matter how much you try to mask it.
When you say a dancer that she has to look for her personality, you are actuallly telling her that she has to discover herself, to listen to herself, observed herself, to see her essence, and from there, empower her, encourage her to leave the vetoes, to leave drop the veil that covers her.
Now, regardless of the personality when dancing, which can be defined by a special or distinctive characteristic of that dancer, or by several together, I have discoverd that:
Based on my observation and intense and long experience, there are two large groups of dancers:
the ones that impress and the ones that thrill.
The dancer whose objetive is, 100% marked, to impress, will put all her focus, all her energy and knowledge, while working and creating dance, in getting to impress her audience.
The dancer whose objective is, 100% marked, to thrill, will put all her knowledge into creating a dance that manages to remove the emotion from her audience, through telling or communicating something.
Of course, this is a rough definition. In addition, not always a dancer who seeks to impress will achieve this goal. The same can happen in the case of the dancer who seeks to excite. This is normal, human beings are complex, and our communication with others (and dance is a very special way of communication) depends on many, factors, most of which are circumstantial, and these factors can be wrong in achieving of our objetive despite having put all our efforts. In addition, we must not forget that the reaction of the people to our work is a feedback that will depend in turn on the characteristics of the people that observe us, not only and exclusively on what we show on stage.
In general, we can say that the dancer who seeks to impress will show a dance of spectacular movements or even “strange”, gimmicky, striking. It will be a dance that will seek to leave its mark on the viewer, but a superficial one. It is incredible how the etymology of the words leads us to a much deeper understanding of reality: to impress (the spanish word) comes from ‘printing’ and this word also means to press, to make a mark (in spanish etymology).
When we walk along a beach we leave our mark on the sand. That footprint as momentarily created an impression, on the sand, on the landscape, but this footprint is superficial, since in a matter of seconds the waves will bathe the shore and clean, in the blink of an eye the surface, eliminating the trace that we had left. Nature constantly tells us that our footprint, our impression, can be more or less lasting, it can be more or less large, but finally time and the natural action of the environment will end up erasing it forever.
In fact, the word ‘imprint’, which has the same origin (spanish etymology) as printing, means “to borrow”. When we leave an impression, we have borrowed something from someone, something from the landscape, something that does not belong to us and is therefore volatile.
In the case of the dancer who seeks to thrill, we can affirm that her dance will remove the interior of each viewer, will make the people discover themselves, will touch a “button or spring” that will open a door to a world that will allow it to grow whoever enjoys that dance, because it will bring out their inner world. Precisely ’emotion’ in spanish comes from the arab ‘Emir’: chief, commander, the one who rules. Emotion is what moves, the engine of life. That is why dance is so wonderful when it moves, when it thrills, because dance is movement, and emotion is our soul in movement, neccesary to find calm, peace, and to cleanse ourselves. It is very different from impressing, because with printing we want to leave our mak, but with emotion we want to clean marks, tracks, wounds…
Impressing in dance is not a negative concept, far from it, it is a resource that if well managed can entertain, amuse and amaze. It is a great resource to put on a show. Of course it must be used intelligently and not abuse it, because if it is used out of context and in excess, it will totally lose its usefulness.
However, and this is my personal perception, fruit of a lifetime on stage and also as a spectator; thirlling in dance is the necessary and essential tool that distinguishes mere entertaiment from Art. Art, if it is limited to the superficiality of aesthetics, ceases to be art, or it is so in a weak, lame way. Art must tell something, it must transmit emotion.