currently obsessed with: dancespeak


For my first “currently obsessed with”, I had to just introduce it with something that we all do — speak. But of course, dancers do it differently. It’s special. In between our “5,6,7,8” and cues to “kick on ONE!”, we have a special language of grunts, vocals, and sound effects to get our point across. take a look at how crazy ass Laurieann Gibson explains it after the jump.

See?! It’s how we accent the music and give movement a certain physical “flava”. My claim to all this is how I vocally count the music. Teachers will normally give you a full count of 1-8 when teaching. Me? I’m very much liable to give you only even numbered counts. On a bad day, it’ll be odds. If I’m teaching you a street jazz or hip hop combo, you’d be lucky to even get counts at all, I’ll probably be sounding a lot like Laurieann up there! I just open my mouth and the counts come out.

As a choreographer, we have to let dancers know how we feel what they’re doing, a little “oh, that’s good” or “a little more here” is never enough. I’m liable to tell my students that they need to put some “stank” on a piece of movement or that something looks “janky” (I’ve had serious conversations with students about the etymology of the work jank….pitiful eh?) You’ll see what I mean — this is choreographer Rhapsody James chronicling a combination she did for one of my favorite pop songs, “Long Way To Go” by Cassie.

Don’t you love it?! It’s a whole language all its own. I’m getting the idea that maybe I should make a dancespeak dictionary so ordinary laypeople can comprehend what we say? Opinions?

To wrap all this up, I’m ending with a video of “Sh*t Dancers Say”, a part of this new parody craze started by Kyle Humphrey & Graydon Sheppard (see the original here). This one is more based toward what L.A. dancers say as she talks about the Carnival Choreographers Showcase and class with choreographer Derrell Bullock, but one should find some humor it whether or not you dance. So next time your favorite dancer friend says something that has nothing to do with the conversation at hand, don’t say “Huh? What?!” and ask for a translation — it’s probably just dancespeak.

umm…and just for the record…baby girl Shauna (the front dancer in Rhapsody’s video) DID that!!! she went IN on that combo!  <=== see! i just did it! it comes outta nowhere, i swear!



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