What makes rhythm... rhythm?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by debmc, Sep 9, 2011.

  1. want2dance

    want2dance New Member

    What makes rhythm?

    I guess I am too new to ballroom to be familiar with Brian Jolly. However I saw Brian Jolly on YouTube and WOW! It is very true. You certainly see a difference in his dancing and Latin style. Where is he now? I hope coaching younger rhythm dancers. Of course, Christina Rihanoff isn't too bad either. :)
  2. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    I believe all " dance " is generational; till the old "guard " move on ,things tend to be static .
  3. QMSF

    QMSF Member

    What happened to all the personality? Julia Gorchakova whipping her head around like she had water in her ear. It was so spontaneous and vibrant and fun.

    Specifically, I miss it looking spontaneous. Nowadays, except for the top tier professionals, a lot of rhythm looks kind of sluggish. To me, it should look a little bit like street dancing. Or... an affectation of street dancing. Like West Side Story---those were trained dancers doing choreography, but it looked like they just broke into fabulous dancing. I loved Jose and Joanna, because it was a little bit Blackpool and a little bit Cafe Cocomo.

    More than anything, rhythm should be joyous and genuine. Everything's been simplified so dance studios could sell it to Jim and Jenny Everyman, so you should be able to take something really basic and shoot for the moon.
  4. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    There was a commentary on dance beat magazine where one of the authors stated that he/she felt that " the biggest part of Rhythm is soul, as well as individuality...want to see the couples get down.... as if you were at a night club dancing to a twenty-piece Latin American band". The article also mentioned Bob and Julia and Jose and Joanna as good examples of dancing rhythm.
  5. Dream314

    Dream314 New Member

    I have to be honest...I've been hearing this talk about how to define rhythm and the differences between latin and it's counterpart....I have also heard from a majority of judges how they want 'authentic' from rhythm and how if it is not earthy then it isn't American...that it is just a bad exaggeration of latin. But here's the thing: then stop marking the couples that have the nicest 'lines' because if you want authentic, earthy....then maybe they need to visit where these dances were actually birthed and see if they are dancing it with the 'lines and poses'...and if by authentic they mean 'with feeling' then again stop marking 'perfect technique' over a couple who is clearly leaving their heart on the floor and can dance but who isn't 'technique-focused'. I personally like to be moved when I watch a couple dance..I don't want to see 2 people doing exercise (quickness, striking of poses).

    Going back to what one poster said here,,I am in agreement that ballroom dance tends to be generational..and there major differences in style and choreography. I for one prefer the groups that were before the last 2 years...I consider them to be and represent what american rhythm should be. what I see now a bunch of couples who are trying to look a certain way and it gives it a very fake, very devoid of emotion, devoid of originality...but it won't change unless judges start marking different.

    This was my rambling for the day...=)
  6. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    Right on "point "... !!
  7. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    See the thing is ... we are human. And that is the crux of the matter. More over some 80,000 years ago, we were hunter gatherers. And if a hunter didn't want to be seen as he was sneaking up on his deer prey, what did he do... he was slow. very slow. And if a hunter suddenly was being attacked by a lion, what did he see... a sharp flash of movement. very fast.

    So our brains are hardwired to LOOK AND RECOGNIZE fast movement. In your backyard do you see the turtle move across the yard at his full speed, no. Do you see the rabbit move at his full speed, yes. It is our brain, and it is survival, and it is human.

    So take latin, arriving on a straighter leg, achieving a line ... faster. Stepping onto a leg to then turn will be done sooner if the knee is already straight. In rhythm stepping into a turn, speed will be diffused if the foot must land, weight be applied, knee straightened, and then the turn happens.

    Even though a rhythm dancer will be mechanically getting into their turn as fast as they correctly can, it will always be slower and later than a latin dancers. So which one do you think our prehistoric brains are going to look at on the floor?? We will be drawn to the faster movers and the sharper lines. We cannot help it. And so a rhythm dancer wanting to achieve some speed will default to a straighter leg and then be called a latin knockoff. Or Americans will be accused to stealing latin technique.

    And that is where the judges need to honestly be educated in current rhythm actions, and not simply retired competitors. Does a pro walking off the latin floor actually know what the high hip theory is that rhythm dancers are using? And if they don't how, can they tell what who is doing and who is not, and more importantly who is doing it correctly? Yes they can tell a nice line, a good connection, and tight turn... but these don't make up the technique of rhythm, these are good dance techniques all around and can apply to standard and smooth as well. And they may tell you who is a good "dancer". But they don't tell you who is a good "rhythm dancer".
  8. Dream314

    Dream314 New Member

    I totally agree with everything you have said! Thank you for putting it into better words than I could ever hope to.

    I have one question: 'high hip theory'....im ashamed to ask if u can clarify on this...are we speaking of delayed hip action?
  9. jiwinco

    jiwinco Member

    I so agree with Larinda! Also, IMO.... if many of the judges are former Latin dancers don't they look for and identify with Latin technique they see on the floor and not with true Rhythm technique?
  10. QMSF

    QMSF Member

    Is there anything to be said about the fact that the American style doesn't have a huge amateur field? It seems like Pro-Am takes the cake with American Style dancers. As such, there aren't as many dancers down in the amateur trenches perfecting their own style and technique, rather professionals just sort of appear in rhythm---either out of nowhere or from latin backgrounds.

    Just a thought.
  11. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    As for the amateur ranks, yes the rhythm is the smallest field. But as for pros appearing from nowhere... I suppose that may be true from the coasts but in the midwest the Rhythm is alive and strong. The pros there are actively being groomed and raised on rhythm, especially within the franchises. It is only on the coasts where the immigrant dancers have taken hold and the International influence overrides American.
  12. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Seriously. Rhythm and Smooth dominate the upper midwest, at least. I'm starting Smooth with Harvest Moon because while I like Latin, it has literally been me and same other two girls in Ladies A for every competition except OSB.
  13. QMSF

    QMSF Member

    But that's what I mean by appearing from nowhere. Tom and Teri Franchise get hired, get trained, become pros by default because of the pro-am expectation of their studio and never work on understanding the impact of their dancing. It's all sport and no art---and as such it's soulless. It's like the "No Experience Necessary" thread a while back.
  14. QMSF

    QMSF Member

    Granted, that's a big generalization and I apologize for that. But we've all seen those couples.
  15. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    It is also interesting, that our own "American" TV show, Dancing with the Stars, shows latin, not rhythm, technique when the dancers are doing chacha and rumba.
  16. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Because all of the teachers were latin competitors... except one.
  17. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    But where do they come from otherwise??? Homegrown is not from... nowhere.

    And it is the same with the immigrant teachers. They were mostly junior sport competitors that grew up an got tired of driving a bus as an adult, heard there was a lot of money to be made as a pro teacher here, and they come over. They have had no experience as teachers either...

    Being Made In The USA is not soulless. And it is not out of nowhere. These couples are actively trianing. Just because those people on the coast that never travel out to the midwest to see the evolution doesn't mean couples appear out of thin air... Rhythm is alive and well, even if you don't see it as the local comps you go to on your coast.
  18. jump'n'jive

    jump'n'jive Active Member

    i for one am looking forward to watching the rhythm tonight in cleveland.
  19. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    My NP's old open student turned pro and is competing with one of the other teachers in RS Rhythm. (They were going to Yankee, actually, but he got stomach flu the day they were supposed to leave.) I suppose that could look like "our of nowhere", but it seems reasonable to me. There's another ex-student/teacher couple who are going to start competing Rhythm, too. She's been taking lessons since she was a kd and went pro this year. Again, out of nowhere? Not really, though I realize some people on both coasts think the Midwest is nowhere.

    The thing our studio in particular lacks is Standard, but that's because none of the students really want to do it. (I'm being made to warm up for Smooth with Slow Fox because I made the mistake of telling NP how much I hate it. He isn't a fan of it either, but he's apparently a fan of irony. Our goal: I get around the floor one full time without whining, bitching, and making faces about it.)
  20. QMSF

    QMSF Member

    I'm not sure where this became a debate on coast vs. midwest or foreign vs. American competitors. My original comment was on the lack of amateur competitors in rhythm and as a result how inexperienced the competitors were. Even this past April, DanceBeat referred to the Pro Rhythm final at SF Open as the weak point of the competition, due to the inexperience of the competitors, so it's a recorded phenomenon. I don't care if someone hails from Los Angeles, Arkansas or Azerbaijan, if you're green you're green.

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