Techniques vs. Tricks

Technique:  First off, technique is the skeletal structure behind all dance moves.  Without technique it is very difficult to perform the skills needed to accomplish dances and present dance as it was designed to be seen.  The core dance form for good technique is ballet.  The ballet student gains in the following areas:  body awareness, posture, core strength (abdominal muscles), foot and ankle strength, and arm and back strength.  All dance performers continue with their ballet training to be the best at their art form (possibly with the exception of hip hop dancers – although if they do ballet, they actually improve in hip hop).  Even dancers in areas such as jazz or modern continue their ballet training to keep up with all the benefits it gives them as a performer.  Thus, ballet is the core form of dance.  Most professional dancers take ballet many times a week and ballet dancers in professional ballet companies dance all day long, usually morning and day classes and evening choreography.  Thus, they live, eat and breath ballet.  In most college programs that are modern dance based, they continue to do ballet 3 to 4 times a week, thus continuing to improve on their core dance technique.  Many professional dancers will take as many classes as possible, sometimes even going back to beginning level ballet classes to work detailed training at a slower pace.  It is never a bad idea to add more ballet classes or to do some extra make up classes if you have missed your ballet classes for the week.  As we say in the dance world, ballet is like your daily vitamins to keep your dance strength where it needs to be.  Also, other important classes for technique are turns and leaps and each individual class of tap, jazz, lyrical, or hip hop.  Within each class you gain the skills needed to become an advance, accomplished dancer in those areas.  Please do not confuse repetition with boredom or lack of creativity.  Repetition is the key to the body/mind memory that is important to the accomplished dancer.  Skills that are honed to perfection come from practicing them over and over.  Often classes will contain the basic moves needed for that dance form and the repetition of them for the highest level of performance.  For instance in jazz, chaine and pique turns will be taught from a beginning level age clear through advanced levels in college.  Also, in tap there are basic core moves that all other dance moves in tap come from:  the shuffle and the flap and these will be practiced in various exercises throughout the tap training.  Please do not confuse technique with tricks.  Tricks for dance are described below, but in the essence of concluding the point to be made, if you slack on technique it shows.  At this studio we are clear to include technique in our core ballet requirements and in our turns and leaps requirements for our older, advanced performers.

Tricks for dance:  Over time the tricks for dance have become more and more complicated.  As is with every sport or movement art, as time goes on higher levels of risk and complication of tricks happens.  A dance trick is a movement that is not a core, basic movement, but one that adds excitement and risk and shows creativity for the choreographer and dancer.  Tricks change over time.  For instance, for many years from the 80’s to early 90’s a good trick was a double pirouette turns.  However, now it is common for dancers to turn 4, 5 or even 6 times in a row.  During the 80’s and 90’s a famous ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov came from Russia and was performing up to 16 turns in a row.  Thus, what one can accomplish, all try to strive to be better.  Also, tricks tend to go with various trends in the dance world.  At the beginning of MTV and dancing for T.V. and videos tricks were geared toward turns and jumps.  Now, tricks run the gamete of flexibility, turns, and gymnastics.  At one point an axel was a “must know” trick for advanced dancers.  Now, they are no longer in the mainstream of choreography and the newer tricks are things like:  calypso jumps, “C” jumps or turning “C” jumps, leg extensions, suspended jumps, and some gymnastics.   Tricks also include things like group lifts and throws and connections with people coming together to make you feel or react to the choreography.

None of the tricks that are taught can be in place of core technique.  So, if you are in class continuing to work on your core technique and you occasionally work on tricks that would be a good class balance.  Anytime you work tricks over technique the dancer loses.  Because tricks come and go, it is most important to maintain the skills needed for core work.  Without the core technique, the tricks are impossible to accomplish at a level of performance quality.  It is fun to “play” with different ideas and different ways to turn and variances in ways to leap, but the core concepts of turning and leaping must be taught or the dancer has no basis to work with.  Trust me when I say we are on the cutting edge of knowing the current tricks and we are always in a creative mode for ideas without jeopardizing the need for the basics.

I thought you might want to see what some of the many dancers from this studio have accomplished.  I must say, I remain very proud of all those that dance here and I know they move into the adult world armed with good, core technique, and the ability to do what they desire with their dance training!

1.         Megan Evans danced with me throughout her high school years.  She was a member of our performing group, En l’ Air.  She graduated in the spring of 2012 with a Bachelors Degree in Accounting and an Associate Degree in the Arts.  She plans on working toward her masters in dance.  Ms. Megan has trained as a dance teacher with the studio and has taught her own classes for the past six years.  She is an amazing dancer, choreographer, and teacher and we are blessed that she was part of the studio as a young adult and continues to grow with us.  Megan continues her dance training with various classes and dance forms taken around town.
2.         Jessica (Olin) Riggs, danced with me from junior high through high school and was on my performing group, En L’ Air.  She went off to college and graduated from CSU in Fort Collins with 2 degrees, a bachelor in dance and a bachelor in nutrition.  Jessica returned to the studio to teach summer camps and choreograph for En l’ Air and now runs her own performing group called Life/Art Dance Ensemble.  Jessica got married in the spring of 2012 to Adam Riggs and continues to teach for the Colorado Centre of Dance and run her performing group from our studio.
3.         Heidi Robbins (Coors) was a student of mine from junior high on and then went to Pepperdine University in California.  She danced there and came back to teach ballet for the studio for seven years.  Sadly, due to a job change she had to stop teaching in fall of 2012, but her memory lives here at the studio and all the things that she was taught from me and other teachers carried on and were added to by her.  What a blessing!
4.         Kallyn Rand was a high school graduate in the spring of 2012.  Kallyn danced at the Colorado Centre of Dance from the age of 3 until graduation.  She has been trained solely by this studio and we couldn’t be more proud!  Kallyn continues to teach many different classes at the studio.  She is attending Metro University with a major in Dance.
5.         Karleen (Hughes) Quackenbush trained at the dance studio from 6th grade until graduation and went to college with Jessica Olin at CSU.  She currently teaches ballet around town and was a former member of Jessica’s Life/Art Dance Ensemble.
6.         Kristen Kissel danced at our studio from junior high on and went to college in Wyoming and then Washington State.  She called me and said she had several job offers for ballet instruction and said thank you for all the training and support with goals for her dance ability.

*Many more students have come through the studio and used their talents that they gained from this studio.  Currently, several students have gone on to study dance in college, gaining scholarships for the dance programs:  Abi Kerns, Melanie Ralph, Bekah Staub, Kiley Dombroski, Cara Green, Bailey Heinz, and many more.