The Australian Dancesport Championships are right around the corner, and with it comes many people who may not have ever seen a dance comp before! It can be a little overwhelming at first, so here’s the first in a series of guides on what to look for in the different styles that aims to give a basic introduction on each of the styles and what to look for when you’re in the stands cheering on your favourite couple. This is by no means a definitive or in-depth discussion, and many people have their own opinions, but it’s a place to start
What is New Vogue?
Unique to Australia and New Zealand, New Vogue is a style of dance that takes the ballroom rhythms such as Waltz, Foxtrot and Tango, and transforms them into dances with set choreography, or sequences. All couples dance the same routines at the same time, with the dance usually commencing after 4 bars of music. Unlike their Ballroom cousins, however, New Vogue dances are characterised by a number of different holds, positions, and the use of arm lines to create shape and character. There are 15 championship dances performed at the Australians, listed at the end of this article, each with their own style and flavour. But with everyone doing the same thing, how do you pick a winner? Well, here are five areas that judges may look at to determine who will take home the trophy.
The most basic, and arguably the most important, criteria, correct technique is the foundation of everything the dancer is trying to accomplish. It’s the set of rules that cover such things as footwork, position, and timing. For example, the correct use of footwork allows the dancers to create the correct movement and character for each dance, So be on the lookout for clear footwork, neat closes, and controlled steps as examples of good technique.
Posture refers to how the dancers position their body and limbs, to create and maintain their balance and poise. Good dancers have a strong, erect spine, so no slouching. Not only is it important to have good posture for balance and appearance, it is also essential to avoid injury.
This is a tough one to define. A combination of many things, musicality is the dancer’s ability to subtly adapt their actions to the music that is being played. It’s how they use the timing, technique, movement, and arm lines to interpret the music and convey meaning to the audience. If it makes you feel something and looks like it matches the music, then they’re probably doing it right.
4. Shapes and lines
One of the defining features of New Vogue is the use of arm lines to create shape and expression. Because the dancers can often not be holding on to one another, they can use their arms to great effect, and this is where much of the variety comes in. Look for strong, controlled movements from each partner that match or complement the other, and combine to tell a story.
All dance styles need the dancers to be connected, both to each other and to the audience. While the most obvious type of connection is the physical, whether it be a hand or body connection, New Vogue dancers spend a lot of time separated. To maintain a connection when apart, dancers can look at each other, use their arm lines to compliment each other, and use other subtle cues to show that even though they are apart, they are still together.
So there are just a few things to look for when watching the New Vogue at this year’s Australian Dancesport Championships.
The 15 Championship dances
Characterised by smooth, strong, swinging movement, foxtrot rhythm dances can be sweet or sexy. The dances in this rhythm are:
- Barclay Blues
- Excelsior Schottische
Based on the Viennese waltz, these dances are quite fast and use lots of rise and fall.
- Twilight Waltz
- Lucille Waltz
- Tracie Leigh Waltz
- Swing Waltz
- Parma Waltz
Fiery and dramatic, these dances are characterised by sharp staccato actions and loads of arrogance.
- Tango Terrific
- La Bomba
Unique to New Vogue, these are danced to 4/4 music and use a marching action.
- Evening Three Step
- Gypsy Tap
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