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make your day dance

The dance cliché — tiresome? or useful?

January 29th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Tags: ····

It depends upon who’s using it.

This dance is a cliché, with verbal descriptions and video examples, tickled my brain. Clearly, dance clichés aren’t any choreographer’s goal — confirmed by the number of videos in the discussion which have been disabled (presumably because it’s not a forum in which anyone would want to find their own work).  It strikes me that many of the samples offered can actually be sorted into two categories: the cliché (a predictable and overused move) and bad taste (costumes and moves that are inappropriate in their context).

But I’d like to speak up in defense of some clichés — in the right context! When I saw them in the video samples, I had to smile: the center stage line-up of dancers behind each other with arms at different angles, the line-up of dancers from left to right for high kicks, the use of a chair as a prop, STOMP-inspired percussion, the worm, the splits…

I smile because my students have tried them all!  As a teacher in a public school, I teach everyone, from kindergarten through 5th grade.  Left to their own devices, students will adorn their dances with every cliché they’ve seen.  It used to bother me, until I realized they’re too young to recognize clichés — to them it’s a cool move, and they want to try it. And then, some of the most hackneyed moves provide great spacing and timing challenges for young dancers.

So, the right context?  When a young dancer is learning the craft of choreography– sort of like apprentice painters who were trained to imitate the masters.

And then, there’s always the chance that a young (or experienced) choreographer will veer into surprisingly new territory from what looked at first glance to be a predictable move!

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