Monday, May 31, 2010

Trained Technique vs Spontaneity

I checked out the 'KeKe Palmer Super Jerkin Contest Winners' video.

A pair had won a choreography contest posed by KeKe Palmer to submit a 'Jerkin' dance routine.

The 2 winners joined KeKe and another dancer to rehearse the routine. What I saw re-raises a quandry that's lurked in my mind for quite a while: Technical Training vs 'Spontaneity'. KeKe and Co look like 'trained dancers'. They're tight in timing and movement. The 2 contest winners are great but one can notice that in many places their hands and arms are not in sync, especially with regards to placement. The video was edited with many short quick cuts, I suspect that this was purposefully done so that the difference in the quality of the dancers would be less noticeable.

But, which of the pairs is 'better' ? I'm not sure that I have an opinion. What one group impresses with as far as precision, the other group impresses with being able to convey a different kind of feeling.

Try to compare trumpeters Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis. Wynton Marsalis wins hands down for versatility and technical ability. Miles would never have made it as a symphonic trumpeter, whereas Wynton Marsalis had remarkably won both the classical and jazz Grammy Awards one year. But Miles had a voice all his own and sometimes I wonder if a perfect 'classically trained' tone would have helped or hurt his art.

That's the dilemma with dance, how to train precision but also not come across as a robot (unless you're doing the robot style, of course !).

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