This post is inspired by an experience I had when learning Viennese Waltz. For those who do not know the Viennese Waltz, or Waltz as the Germans call it, it is actually a very repetitive dance. Take a look at the video below to see what I mean.
You can do a few extra figures to liven it up a bit, but on the whole you are usually doing the basic figure in one of two directions. This means that you mind can start to wander. It certainly means that for me. I need to then find something to concentrate on. At first this felt like effort; however, it opened something up to me that I had not yet experienced.
I felt the music much more deeply.
The music was all that I really had. If I did not anchor on the music, then I would lose focus, and something would go wrong. This is not to say that the Viennese waltz is an easy dance. Take a look at the video below and notice how much time the presenters spend explain how to do the basic right. It has a lot of subtle nuances. This is another characteristic of the Viennese waltz: subtlety.
However, for this post I am focusing on my experience with music and what this could mean for you if you want to gain an extra insight into your dance experience.
So you already know from the above that I was learning Viennese waltz and after a while my mind wondered. Basically, I was bored! I was doing the same thing over and over – perhaps some pointers from the teacher and I would have had more to focus on, but I was also meant to be solidifying what I had learned before progressing. Thus I was in a way stuck, but I needed to make this a bit better.
That’s what made me decide to focus on the music. If you have read about musical appreciation, either by me or elsewhere, then you know that an aspect is letting the music induce emotions in you and then feeling those. That’s what I did while I danced and I let the feelings influence my dance.
The feedback from my teacher was positive. My mind was more engaged, and I danced better. However, for me it was even better. It was good to know that I was dancing better, but now that I was focusing on the music so much (the repetitive dance allowed that) I was able to let go more and have my body guided by the music. It was a bit existential in fact, and I started to understand why some people talk about the hypnotic state dance causes in them. I was no longer trying to dance or trying to focus. I had entered a new state of consciousness where I was relaxed and calm, but still able to move in a manner required for dance.
The best thing was that once this was opened to me, I could take it to other dances (which have a greater suite of skills) and get more from them. In fact, I could get more from them without feeling the need to do a large number of figures. Instead, I could connect with the music more and change the style to express the music.
What does this mean for you?
If you would like to work on your ability to feel the music, express the music or you just want to get more from the experience of dance (at least one of these would be useful regardless of your interest in any of dance sport, exhibition or social dance) then you could simply do some Viennese Waltz. You could also choose the dance you want to get better at and do only the basic. This will get boring, once it does, try focusing on the music and get into it (almost lost in it). You will start to notice a transition in the way you feel and the way you dance.
The above assumes two things:
- You are competent in the basic
- You have a partner who will do this with you (you can do it alone, but that might not be as enjoyable for you and having a partner will help you ensure proper posture and such while you do this)
Give it ago and see how it changes your dance experience.