“Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)”
is a song composed by Irving Berlin for the 1946 Broadway musical, “Annie Get Your Gun”. During the song, Annie Oakley and Frank Butler argue playfully about who can, for example, sing softer, sing higher, sing sweeter, and hold a note for longer. They are doing the same, but still clearly in a very different way. Creating an atmosphere, enhancing a certain emotion, presenting their own personality.
Looking over internet (and in the media in general) you can nowadays see amazing things being done. Spectacular, unbelievable, mindblowing things. It must have taken those who do it years to do it the way they do. Seeing it once is wonderful, but seeing it more very often takes away the original awe and leaves you empty-handed. At least I have that. And I think a lot more people have that: “Seen it, done it”. Why else would we all be looking for the next “hype”? To quote another famous company:
“And Now To Something Completely Different”
Was the focus before on the persons who did, now it is much more on what you do. So the gimmick takes over: it is effect-orientated, must be spectacular and preferably nobody did it before. It will boost your adrenaline-level immediately. But helas, that is only a short-time reaction. Nature gave that commodity to us to for immediate response and has a short livespan. Easy come, easy go.
It is a pity that this “modern approach” seems to creep in to our dancing. Fortunately not everywhere, but obviously in certain circles. Looking at pictures and video’s you can see many examples. The responses are in general based on the “adrenaline-boost”. The gimmick has taken over and no longer can I see the personality coming through and presenting itself, it doesn’t give me any real emotion and it certainly doesn’t linger in my mind for long: we all just wait for the next gimmick, done by the next couple and then get the next adrenaline-boost. The worst of it all is that I hear a lot of people say: “dancing is my passion, my life” and then allow this to happen or even do it themselves.
Development in dancing is NOT giving us another new gimmick, it is looking for ways to present your personality better, to emphasize emotions, to enhance the characteristics of a dance or the music. Within the boundaries that are written down or accepted.
That is the very purpose of development. Development in itself is not a goal, it is a tool (a mean) to an end. Why else would you allow it?
I am fortunate enough to have seen couples “naked” on the floor; presenting their personalities without holding anything back. That is a unique experience to witness and will stay with me for the rest of my life. It didn’t give me the adrenaline-boost, but gave me a whole specter of other feelings, from tears to a smile.
And you know what? These special people can still create that same feeling long after the others can no longer do their “salto mortale” and are left with nothing to present.
So please bring back the focus on personality and get rid of the tricks and gimmicks!