Oh, the smell of fall… It never fails that shortly after Embassy, when Joel and I get home, the sun disappears, the air becomes a little crisper and the first drops of rain bring in the new season. Fall is definitely upon us, and after basking in the sun on my very relaxing California vacation, I’m ready to get back to work again. In fact, after having a fantastic visit with Luca & Loraine here in Vancouver less than a month ago, I am fully inspired and raring to go!
Luca & Loraine were here in Vancouver for 5 fantastic days. Joel and I were thrilled to be able to host this amazing pair, who are not only World famous dancers, but also our coaches, mentors, and most importantly, our dear friends. Back in 2005, when we were training with Luca & Loraine in Italy, they so graciously invited us to live in their small hometown and made sure that we were taken care of. It was great to be able to look after them both for a change and to return the favour, even if only for five short days.
Luca & Loraine’s visit this summer was a very special treat for us. We had been organizing their trip for quite some time, and we were looking forward to seeing one of their last performances ever. Luca had told us that they were planning to retire from doing shows at the end of 2009, so we knew this was an opportunity that we could not miss!
We had seen them practice together in the studio in Italy, dance together to demonstrate things during our lessons, and of course we had seen numerous videos of competitions and shows. However, we had never seen them do a show live, right up close! It was definitely an experience that I’ll never forget, sitting in the front row, watching two of the most amazing dancers in the world, dancing for us at the studio where I teach almost every day: the Broadway Ballroom. I was overcome with emotion and left absolutely speechless…
I am sure everyone in the room felt the emotion just pouring out of Luca & Loraine’s bodies that evening. Unlike anyone else, Luca & Loraine have this uncanny ability to connect with you and draw you into their world while they are dancing. Their approach and their expression to dance is just so ‘human’; it is so clear and true to each other and to themselves; that it just can’t help but reach out, touch your heart and move you .
This type of emotionally captivating dancing is so different from a lot of the dancing we see in the world today. By equating dancing with ‘sport’, many people are starting to lose the true essence of dance, and are focussing solely on showing off tricks or displaying athletic abilities of being “higher-faster-stronger”. As a result, the dancing becomes primarily physical, rather than emotional; becomes mechanical and loses the ‘human’ quality of it all. Although everyone agrees that ballroom dancing requires a lot of physical skill and coordination (as seen by the sweat that pours down everyone’s faces as they dance), we cannot lose sight of the fact that dancing is truly an art form that is meant to display your own individual expression of the movement and of the music. After all, doesn’t it sound awkward to praise a dancer for having an “athletic Slow Foxtrot”?
After having up to 11 hours of inspirational lectures and discussions over 3 days, our students all seem to have a renewed spirit and fresh outlook on dancing. For me, I am definitely fully re-inspired not only to teach, but to explore my own dancing again. The key to it all, that I was reminded of by my great mentors, was that whatever the approach, the intention needs to be absolutely clear, and you need to be fully connected and committed to it.
Everyone’s approach is different. Maybe the reason you dance is in fact to achieve athletic excellence and not really to express emotion at all. That’s fine, as long as you commit to it fully and know that that is your true intention. For others, dancing is in fact more of an intellectual exercise for them. They are not really into the actual physicality or emotion of dancing; but more into understanding how the two bodies fit together. For them, it’s more of an exercise in mathematics and physics, which is also fine, if that’s what your true intention is.
For me, it is everything; it is the physical, the intellectual… but most importantly, the emotional. I go to the gym to work the physical aspect of my body; I read, write and discuss for the intellectual; and I dance for the emotional. Sometimes I lose sight of that, because I’m so busy dealing with the physical and mental aspects of dance, which are at times restricting me from pulling it off. But what I was reminded of is that the intention behind it all, which actually pulls it all together, is still for me, the emotion of the dance, of the music and of dancing it with my partner.
As I’ve always said to my students, everything we learn in dance, we can apply to life. Sometimes we get so busy making money to support ourselves or running around to do this or that chore, that we forget what our true intention in life is. It’s different for everyone, and that’s what makes us all unique. For me, my intention in life is to live to the fullest; to enjoy and experience every emotion and sensation of the day, of the hour, and of the moment; and that’s what it should be for my dancing as well.
Thank you to Luca & Loraine for reminding me of this… for forcing me to clarify my own personal philosophy and to put it into action. Full commitment, all the way!