Technique

Technique… It’s a term that gets thrown around quite a lot.  I have heard dancers from other styles say this to Salsa/Mambo dancers with the purpose of belittling our art form.

So what is technique?

From Cambridge English Dictionary:
“A way of performing a skillful activity, or the skill needed to do it.”

Martha Graham said this about technique… “Freedom to a dancer means discipline. That is what technique is for — liberation.”  And she also said, “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.”

Most of the time when I hear about technique, they are usually referring about Ballet, Jazz or Ballroom.  But what about other types of dancing?

  • Do African dances not have any technique?
  • Do breaking, popping, afrobeat, waacking, krumping, electric boogaloo, or any of the dances under the Hip Hop umbrella require technique?

I used to rock climb, and I used to hear this from my fellow rock climbers: “I like her/his technique”.

What I’m trying to explain is:

  • Technique provides consistency.  Good technique allows you to be successful at achieving results/goals at a high rate. If A and B produce C for you, a good technique (A+B) will provide the same results (C) for others.
  • Good technique = Safety.  Having an understanding of alignment, balance, control, strength, connection, counterweight, etc. will keep you from injury.
  • Quality without much effort. A good technique is appropriate when it allows anyone to produce similar or same positive outcomes with the least amount of effort possible.  It needs to be efficient and effective.
  • Can be replicated.  By comprehending the systematic approach to a skill, that skill can be replicated by another.  Techniques are methods, which allow us to recreate similar situations achieving expected results.  Meaning that it can be taught or learned.
  • Clarity. The methodological approach needs to create clear results.  In dancing, good technique allows us to convey our message clearly.

Latin Dance has borrowed techniques from many different dances.  Our technique allows us to communicate almost instantly with our partners.  It help Leads to spin the Follows ten times “on a dime”.  It makes our bodies move in beautiful symmetrical contradictions.  Our technique allows us to feel one with the music, with our partner, with the moment… at the same time, it takes us back in time to our ancestors, and the culture we inherited from them.  Our technique makes us feel… I think Martha Graham said it best… passionate and liberated!