What matters more: Technique or Presentation?
Many would argue that dance technique is the single most important thing. However, when preparing for a showcase or a competition, you are told to shift your focus from technique to “Selling the performance”.
Your teacher might say something like: “Your technique is not going to change in the next 2 weeks, but let’s make sure everyone can feel your emotions”. So Instead of focusing on the perfect feet,legs or hips, you shift your focus to arms, musical interpretation and facial expression.
This makes sense because you can have the best technique, but without presentation, your dancing may come across as empty or even boring to watch. The spectators want to connect with your piece. They want to feel the emotions, the story you are telling with your body. That is why presentation plays a huge part in your overall performance.
I would go as far as to say that if there was an equation to represent what makes a great performance it would be roughly: Great performance = 30% technique + 70% presentation. You might say “Woah, why does presentation matter so much?” Simply because it is the end product! When you hire painters to paint your house, do you care about their brush stroke technique? No, all you care about is that your house looks good. Just like your house, you evaluate dance choreography on the end result.
The ironic thing is that even though presentation plays such a big part in your overall performance, you cannot achieve it without good technique. In other words, the better your technique is, the better your presentation will be. it would be very difficult to connect with a dancer who has awful body lines and poor balance. Good technique allows you the freedom to go deep into expression and to show off your choreography at its best.
In conclusion, keep working on your technique and think of it as a tool necessary to achieve strong presentation. BUT always know that at the end of the day it’s presentation that sells the performance.
What do you think?
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By Leon Turetsky
You are absolutely correct. I think of presentation as “passion”, and I am always watching those dancers with passion. I have seen many with great technique, but sooo boring. And, as you said, it’s not all passion – a dancer has to be able to lead/follow and not give their partner a hard time. Otherwise, the passion is just craziness.
Marla Stringham says
I agree when watching a performance at a comp or anywhere else, pure technique is boring. But, what would your rehearsal timeline be? I have my first performance a month from today. I have been working technique like crazy…trying to get my Cuban Motion to be second nature. It’s not yet….How far in advance of a performance would you start really focusing on the presentation of things? I’m afraid that if I start thinking more about presentation now, my technique will fly out the window, because I’m not advance enough to think of 2 things at once.
Marla, that is a good question. I think about 2-3 weeks before the performance is a good time to focus on presentation. What dances are you performing?
Marla Stringham says
I’m doing freestyle to waltz, foxtrot, tango, rumba, cha cha, swing and salsa. Then, I’m doing a routine that starts out rumba and ends up salsa. My teacher and I are still finishing that up. I have a lesson today that I hope we’ll be able to get it solid.