7 Layer Dip: Skills (layer 1)

Certainly it all starts with basic skills — butterflys, reels, buzzsaws, flowers, stalls, CAPS and the ever popular old school mainstay of an artists repertoire, the weave. But what you can do with the moves themselves itself is endless in terms of variations. Consider the weave and how you might change the size of it, the height, the speed and how you move with it. Then vary the rhythm with which you present it and put some dramatic sprinkles on top and suddenly, you’ve got yourself something you never had before in terms of the visual impact.

Poi Lessons San Francisco As a very basic example, you can think of these ideas as the reason that the artist might get (and often does) applause simply for doing a backbend in front of a crowd (especially a less educated and experienced crowd) while doing the weave or buzzsaw. That’s not to say that if you show it to another spinner they will see you doing

anything other than a 3 beat weave, on a technical level, because the skill, regardless of presentation, is still the skill. That said, as important as a varied set of skills is, the ability to express those skills in various ways with a unique style is perhaps a higher degree of mastery than to simply be able to do the move itself.When considering your skills, remember these concepts:

  • No matter how many tricks you can do, there are always more tricks to learn and in that thinking, it is not just this is why the skills are at the root/base of the pyramid. Even when you consider the basic concept of a flower, there are different directions in which you can do the flower, different planes upon which the flower can be performed and different numbers of petals you can create while performing the flower.
  • Modification to skills are endless — that is, no matter how many ways you know how to do a move, there is another way to change it. There may be a different plane you can do the move within, a different timing you can apply or perhaps even a different type of isolation. Even if you consider the idea of an isolation itself, you can be doing a full isolation or a partial isolation and you can even apply the isolation with an asymmetric pattern. Consider that you can apply the isolation — a full isolation or maybe even a one quarter, half or three quarter isolation — to only a part of the move. This means something like a 2 beat weave can be fully isolated with the crossing beat of the pattern and not when the hand does not cross the body. You are really only limited in your technical options based on the amount of time you practice, your physical abilities and your imagination.
  • While the skills are most fundamental, they are least significant in terms of you personally expressing your style as a dance performance artist. The move/trick/skill you know — say a 3 beat weave — is still a 3 beat weave, no matter who performs it. Creating your own style is about presenting that particular move in a way that uniquely defines your essence as a performer. In a sense, you can think of the dramatic presence as the unique essence of you as a performer and because it is the last thing you add to the technique, it is the smallest part and at the top of the pyramid.
  • Even so, while the dramatic presence is the most significant element in creating your unique style, it is built on top of everything else, so continually evolving your repertoire of skills allows you to create dynamic performances that are in constant evolution. Remember that your style is differentiated and defined by the ways in which you explore everything from bottom to the top of the pyramid.
  • Skill alone does not define an artist’s performance style. Put differently: anyone can learn a weave. How each artist performs that weave varies. Ultimately, performance style is a culmination of how you think, move, learn, evolve and express your being through your body through all layers of this dip and this is uniquely yours to bring to the world.

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