In the ideal dance world, every dancer would have flawless technique and a fierce, adaptable range of style. In the realistic world, training dancers to acquire technique AND style is a challenge that takes patience, hard work, and a balancing act of managing class time and curriculum.
Obviously, the best way to acquire the balance is to establish a well-rounded training program. Then, as you teach students from younger ages, you can easily implement proper technical training and add style as the students grow and mature, emphasizing a program that encourages technical components with strong stylization.
But, what happens when you receive a student at an older age that did not train under your tutelage? You have to address the challenges of breaking bad habits, teaching proper technique, and trying to introduce the student to style. Tricky, right?
The balancing act between the two components is a teetering scale. Truly, you cannot have one without the other and expect to work as a dancer. Occasionally, it feels as though some dancers focus only on technique OR style, instead of embracing both equally important facets of dance training. When dancers achieve the fusion of technique and style, they are memorable and achieve status as a true performance artist.
When dancers perform style without technique, their lines are usually undefined or incomplete, and they lack an understanding of their body placement, alignment, and usage. The presentation of style may feel sloppy and disconnected. When dancers perform technique without style, the performance is appreciable but lacks the commitment, focus, and storytelling techniques that are necessary to make a piece the best possible.
As instructors, our schedules are busy, our class times are limited, and we have to deal with absenteeism and distracted students. Being selective in scheduling your class curriculum and instructional plans is critical to training well-rounded dancers that can reach their fullest potential at their appropriate levels.
Next time you are in the studio, look around and ask yourself if your students are making progress in technique and style. Where are they lacking? Where could they improve? Are you breaking your instruction down in a way that students can truly understand? Regularly evaluate your teaching progress and your students’ progress, and you will begin seeing improvements and greater awareness in technique AND style.