Thursday, June 09, 2016

What Does A Dancer Need To Know About Percussion?

That's the question that's been burning since a specific Solares participant enthusiastically indicated that he wanted to know more about Afro-Cuban and African phrasing via percussion. But it's a 'what' question, not a 'why' question, which in the grand scheme of question hierarchy: Why > What > How, tells me I need to be thinking bigger picture.

So instead of asking "what does a dancer need to know about percussion?" I should be asking questions in that order, beginning with...

Why does a dancer need to know about percussion?
The writer Juan Luis Borges said, “art is fire plus algebra”. Passion plus skill. Dancers are already percussionists, it's just that most of them don't know it. Learning about percussion is an additional route to connecting a person's creative side with his or her physical manipulation side. It creates a more profound melding of the embodiment activity (dance) with music, building a complete synchronous sensory experience - tactile, aural and visual.

What does a dancer need to know about percussion?
I've been to a number of percussion workshops (usually part of congresses) where the deliverers described the rhythms and got the attendees to dance to them, But all of these were presented from the drummers perspective: there was no "this is what's important to you as a dancer, and this is how you use it". Hell, I've been guilty of doing the same before!

"What are the sounds?" and most crucially, "what to do they mean to a dancer?" must be the questions at the heart of adventure.

How does a dancer need to know about percussion?
Okay, the structure of the question makes it sound contrived, for good reason so as to simulate closer examination. The 'how' determines the realisation of the why and the what. How the learning experience is shaped affects the likelihood of the adventurer's realisation of meaning, and how much that meaning is valued.

On the basis of this, I have now to design a conga adventure programme for the hands of a dancer, that he or she may be enriched, and knowing so, through Afro-Cubanisation.

Yeo Loo Yen

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