Good Dancing

What is good dancing? How can we recognise it?

Everyone will have their own opinion as to what is good, and what is bad, dancing.

As a trained dancer, I look for sound technique, musicality and a pleasing style. Technique and musicality should be easy to judge, as long as we know what to look for, whereas style is more difficult to define. In duets and group dances I also want to see rapport between the dancers. Even in social dances I like to feel that the dancers are aware of, and respect, their audience.

Stage dances, of course, need a strong sense of performance. Even apparently abstract choreographies need characterisation. The dancers must know who their characters are and what story they are telling (clues very often lie in the libretti of the operas from which the dance music is taken), even if this is hidden from the audience.

With baroque dance, I also look for a sense of period – though I do not want to see slavishly ‘authentic’ dancing. How can we know how they danced in the 17th and 18th centuries? I want dancing that is engaging, whether it is sustained and elegant or swift and lively.

Here is a performance of a baroque ballroom dance which I like for its speed, clarity and evident pleasure in dancing.

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