Today's thought was inspired by a fabulous video I saw a couple of days ago ..... which I'll share with you later!
I'm sure this is true of pretty much all dance, but as an improvised tribal devotee it just speaks, shouts, screams VOLUMES to me about the nature of improv.
Over the past few weeks I've been looking at a huge variety of videos of tribal improv (just for a change, do I hear you say?!), and I have actually been pondering the whole isue of 'feeling' in tribal, so the video and quote were actually very timely! When I say 'all sorts' I do mean all sorts - lots of different formats, experience levels, duets/ trios/quartets/big groups, with and without chorus lines, haflas/shows/outdoor events, joyful faces, smiley faces - even poker faces!
And yes, I have enjoyed watching them all. I do much prefer watching improv to choreo; I find there is ALWAYS something to make you think, reflect and learn. And I just love looking out for those little nuances - glances, smiles, flick of a shoulder or wrist - that epitomise the unspoken connection between the dancers. Sometimes they're easy to spot (and feel!), sometimes they're less overt, occasionally they don't appear to be there ....
Don't appear to be there? A bit harsh you may think ..... but it's not intended in a nasty way. It's just an observation of a different 'aspect' or 'level' of improv. I shall elaborate ..... (Gosh - I'm being very dotty and dashy today! Just call me Morse!)
If you strip improv right back to the physical - take away emotional connection completely - then what you have is a vocabulary of shared moves, with a group of dancers communicating with one another physically - watching for cues and following the lead accordingly, if that makes sense. Dependent upon how skilled the dancers are and how clear their cues are this can appear pretty slick and 'together'. However, it is solely a mechanical exercise. Sometimes, particularly when groups are starting out, you get those 'concentration faces' - they're really watching and thinking ahead - pre-guessing moves, planning their own .... as they get more confident and used to dancing together they start to relax, to smile at one another a bit more as they turn into a circle, sometimes to laugh together. Improv is fun - and they'll often come off that dance floor buzzing!
And often that's where it stays. And there's nothing wrong with that at all. I enjoy watching it, they enjoy dancing together ..... And yet, there's a whole further level to improv.
Quite simply, it's tribal connection.
Once you've really truly FELT it you just KNOW. You feel it whilst you yourself are dancing it. Sometimes you feel it oozing out of dancers you are watching. They have moved beyond THINKING about their improv and have sunk right down into it - responding to the music, to one another, to their audience completely naturally and in the moment. It's hard to put into words, but it's connection at every level. It's very special, and it's why I choose to dance improv. it's magic!
This week I saw and felt some of that magic , and I'd like to share it with you. Here are Gypsy Caravan dancing at the Blue Monk in Portland, Oregon, earlier this week :
This performance just epitomises that tribal connection for me; that dancing with true feeling. It's relaxed and playful, there is wonderful interaction between the dancers (and musicians - love that bit with Paulette and Jeff!) and the smiles and joy are so genuine. These ladies are dancing together so naturally. Their improvisation has moved way beyond being something mechanical into something that flows organically. This is dance as celebration - of life, of music, of one another. This is true improv! ♥
Dance first, think later. It's the natural order!
Until next time, happy dancing!