Authenticity, by Allan Tornsberg

By Allan Tornsberg

I have kindly been approached by Dr. Ruud Vermey to contribute with an article here on the WDC Education Department.

In lieu of recent discussions regarding the identity I was inspired to write the following

An identity, depends a great deal on the authenticity. Without authenticity, the identity becomes diluted.

To me authenticity has three basic ideas:

  • To be sincere, honest; when something is true & heartfelt. (not lying, denial)
  • To be real, genuine; when something is real and not fake. Example a painting.
  • The original form; the actual existence/roots. Example BMW first ever made car.

Unfortunately the word authenticity has somewhat become almost a cliche in today’s dance world. Perhaps a word we have used without fully understanding the deeper meaning of, and therefore are running the risk of misinterpreting it. It appears to me that there is a general feel, that to be authentic and to dance, lets say an authentic rumba or cha cha, is to dance like they use to do in the past (i.e to be old fashioned and dated). So the word authentic can therefore become a negative and on a competitive level many may feel they run a risk of being none competitive.

So what happened? Why is the “original form” being lost?

Today we write 2011 and changes and development is coming over us faster than ever before. With the technology era just on its last chapter, we have witnessed that changes and innovations are taking place in such rapid magnitude.

It seems that people that are successful in todays world are the ones who understand to evaluate and utilize new possibilities – and who implement voluntary changes instead of “guided” changes. They also possess the ability to implement new ideas which not only fits into today’s world but at the same time takes advantage of the present environment.

They are not just ready to make changes without hesitation but through the success they have been given are also becoming innovative and therefore becoming ground breakers.

But how can we both be relevant, modern and innovative, and at the same time be true to ourselves, true to the dance and therefore be authentic? Is everything new and modern necessarily good news, and how does it affect the development of dance? Do we run a risk of compromising authenticity in search of success? Are we allowing the environment to control the outcome of our intentions?

I believe our world today screams for genuineness, authenticity and “true” belief on “what you see, is what you get”. When I write that we are on the end of the ‘technology era” it is due to the fact, that it has been predicted that we are now moving towards the “feeling good era”. It is time now to not only get a product that is efficient and effective and aimed at perfection in the shortest time possible but actually also allows people to experience genuineness while doing it, or watching it. And through this leave a sensation of honesty, truthfulness and that this product is being heartfelt.

On a dance level the two most prominent ideas that comes to mind on this matter, must be musicality and partnering. At the same time It seems to be the two things that have suffered the most in recent years and are in desperate need of development.

As with everything that evolves it is necessary to look towards the roots or the origin to find the future. And so in dancing we need to understand the truth of both skills, musicality and partnering.

To be truly listening to the music being played and through that be able to express the sounds genuinely through movement of the body, we must first understand the music, meaning educate ourselves musically. Of course, one can respond to the music instinctively and spontaneously, and this can give a very orthodox and heartfelt movement, given that the dancer is naturally musically gifted of course. In this case, it will be a very honest, real and perhaps even genuine movement, but will it be original? Also as the competitive factor is in place and we need to reach a higher level of musicality than just what is inherited or simply pure instinct, it is essential to understand how the music has been constructed. And maybe even better, why…!

Through accomplishing a greater understanding of the music, I believe we will be able to find the most appropriate way of moving so that we can express the music to the fullest. We take advantage of the mind being able to imagine, fantasize and think. Through that we can now create tools/technique for the body to exercise so that we can get the full benefit of every aspect of the music. Here I have to emphasize the importance of moving anatomically correct to achieve a true musical interpretation.

However, we run a risk that these tools or the technique, can take over the body and start to control the movement. We now loose the spontaneity and the impulsivity – the inclination of an individual to initiate behavior/movement without adequate forethought as to the consequences of the actions, to be acting on the spur of the moment – which is so important in order to keep things real. Here is where partnering comes into the picture.

In order to have this freedom to express true musicality one must fully understand the true meaning of partnering, or perhaps I should say communication.
Also here we are looking to be real and sincere. Rather than fake the communication through a programmed and arranged agreement between the man and the lady, the man should learn how to be able to communicate (to lead) the lady. This means to guide her into the figures/variations and also have the freedom to choose the timing of his choice, without her necessarily knowing what is to be danced next and on which timing. The lady therefore needs to be skilled in receiving a lead, and to be sensitive enough to listening for the lead, whilst be able to focus on how to dance it. Not what to dance. This will enable the couple to truly express communication in its most genuine way. And the partnering skills suddenly becomes visible in its original form.

Further more this will enable the couple to be more incentive and therefore have a much greater chance, and freedom, to express the music in a true, genuine, sincere and therefore, in the authentic way.

I believe that by understanding the deeper meaning of the authenticity – the truth of dance, and fusing this with the relevance of today, we will have a greater foundation upon which to build a more connected dance form. We will all be able to feel more and we will continue to enjoy the great dancers and the look forward to further developments in the future.

Allan Tornsberg

 
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