The Power of the Pause
What a wonderful quote! What an inspired man. He could see that it is not just the things that you add that make a piece work, but the things that you leave out. It’s about the space. The power of the pause. The lingering air.
The same is true in dance.
This pause does many things. It gives the audience a moment to absorb what has already happened and imagine what comes next. It can enhance anticipation. It can give space to react. It can act as a transition from one mood to another, one song to another, or one character to another. It can build connection between the dancer and the audience. A pause can signal that the performance is over and it’s time to clap and appreciate.
The “space between moves” should be purposeful, not random. Know what you want the audience’s reaction to be. If you momentarily stop simply because the music stops, that’s musical and appropriate, but why does it stop? How do you maximize that moment to get the most out of it? Is it time to wink? Turn your back? Jump up? Make a face? Or simply freeze? Maybe a hanging movement works better there? Maybe it’s a good place for your body to stop moving, but your veil to continue wafting.Listen. Feel. Compose. Connect. Don’t think of it as simply technique. Use your artistry to paint a picture, create a feeling, take the audience on a journey, or propel your spirit to a higher level. Use everything the music gives you- even your pauses.
Don’t forget that sometimes it’s effective to draw outside the lines. This could mean that you create a pause where the music gives you none. Maybe you stop dancing and walk for a while. Maybe your body stops dancing, but your face doesn’t. Or maybe you break character, go over to someone’s table and take a drink of water before transitioning back to The Fabulous Dancer. This may sound silly out of context, but what makes a thing work or not work is energy and intention.
Remember, Debussy (the dominant composure of the Impressionistic age) said, “Music is the space between the notes.” If that space is so important to music, isn’t it of equal importance to dance?
For specific exercises on how to develop your dance, get Beyond Moves, Combos and Choreography.