Saturday, 8 March 2014

It's all about the sparkle!

Many moons ago, in a previous lifetime (or so it seems) I was asked a question during a teaching interview. Well, obviously I was asked more than just the one, but this particular question has stuck with me over the years :

'What do you think is the most important quality for an outstanding teacher - good subject knowledge, good behaviour management or 'sparkle'?

Folks who know me can probably predict the answer so have my permission to skip the next sentence. I chose 'sparkle'. Not just because it sounded prettier and glitzier, I promise you. Indeed, the second part of the question was 'And why?' so there were no easy get-outs. In a nutshell, you can teach subject knowledge (up to a point of course). Weak behaviour management is a bit more difficult to address as part of it comes from your own 'persona' and presence but yes, there are strategies that can be taught to improve it. But sparkle?  I happen to believe that everyone has their own sparkle, be it wild, calm, gentle or in your face, but letting it shine? That's a different matter entirely!

I often return to that question when I'm watching dance performances, and as I've seen some amazing ones at Majma only last weekend and we are now moving into 'Hafla Season' I'm once again pondering it! So, for 'subject knowledge' substitute 'knowledge of the dance, music and the style you are seeking to portray'. For 'behaviour management' substitute 'technique' (unless you have a very unruly troupe of course! I've substituted technique here not because it in any way parallels behaviour management but because it can be learned, although each to our own level, if you get what I mean!). And for sparkle? Well of course there's lots of sparkle and glitter in the dance world, but here I'm talking about that light that comes from within, that shines out and sparkles from the soul when the dancer is really passionate about what they are doing. With me so far?

Soooo - go on! Ask me the question!!!

'What, for you, is most important in a dance performance? Is it knowledge of the dance, technique or 'sparkle'?

And yes folks, my answer is the same. Of course they are ALL important, but what makes a performance special, what engages me, what brings it to life, is undoubtably that sparkle!

We've all seen them. Those dances that are oh-so technically perfect. Not a foot wrong, not a muscle movement out of place. Immaculate costuming and make up. A seemingly spot on representation of their style. Hell, there might even be smiles.

But there is something missing. The smiles might be there, but there's no real joy behind them, no true connection to the dance, the music, the audience. What you are seeing up there is a performer - without the person behind it shining through. No soul, no 'sparkle'. And it leaves me cold. I want to FEEL the passion. I want to laugh and smile with you, or feel chills down my spine at your Dark Fusion self (yes, smiles not compulsory if that dark soul is shining through!). I want something more than just a pedestrian execution of the steps with a learned smile on your lips. I may be demanding, but I want your soul!! (Muwahahahahaha!!)

So when I see you performing at a hafla near me I will give you all kudos and huge audience smiles and thanks just for getting up there to entertain me. If you are showing me a great representation of your style, whatever that may be, I will hold you in great esteem. If your technique is spot on, your execution of the moves flawless, then I promise you I will be in awe.

But if you let yourself shine through, if you sparkle up there in whatever way, then you will draw me irrevocably into your performance. I will live it, breathe it, feel it all with you. I will love you forever!

You give me your soul and I'll give you mine!

Until next time - happy dancing!

Cayte x

P.S.  Following on from all of that ... and after their Majma performance last Saturday ...

Gypsy Caravan Dance Company International, I do love you forever!

I have your souls!!!

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