Choreography vs. emergent movement

Movement can be generated by different types of cues, which can be either direct or indirect. A movement can be taught directly either by way of a demonstration, or by way of a verbal instruction. A movement can be generated indirectlyby way of a cue that is not directly related to the movement—an image that elicits the movement, or by verbal instruction that directs attention to something that affects the movement. Also, a movement can be acquired without any learning, whereby it emerges naturally from some technique or through improvised movement exploration.

Many movements that are taught as choreography, steps, patterns or decorations/adornments/female technique, that are taught directly, have actually originated as emergent aspects of movement technique. They have emerged through the practice of dancing tango and walking, and the improvisational exploration of the possibilities of the walking technique. Teachers and choreographers have then taken these emergent features of natural movement and started teaching them directly as choreography and/or technique. In doing so they fundamentally alterned the character of these movements. While it may seem that a movement such as a decoration can be taught either directly or indirectly, and that both are possible means to the same goal, in fact the quality of the movement will be different.

Generally, a movement that emerges out of improvised exploration is more natural, efficient, functional and integrated or connected. By contrast, dancers who learn these superficially similar movements directly find that they are stuck performing them mechanically even when it is not efficient or functional to perform them. Many have to go through a rather painful process of unlearning them in order to rediscover their natural movement and progress to the next level of dancing proficiency.

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