Monday, 30 November 2009

Watching and hearing

Watching Ismael Heljalil dance, I find I'm immediately listening to the music with a new clarity, especially the melodic lines of the violins and bandoneon, as if my ears are suddenly opened. I guess he's been listening to this music, and dancing to it, for over 60 years, and his dance makes the music very clear, as if he shows, with a few quite simple steps, how it all fits together, how it works. Watching Alberto Dassieu, by contrast, I become aware of the rhythm too, especially the rhythm, and of the pauses in between the strong beats. He waits for the strong beats, and moves to them. Sometimes there are long spaces between the strong beats, sometimes there is a cluster of them.

Interesting. It's as if these dancers can make me hear what they are listening to: that's how it seems. Most dancers, teachers even, keep perfectly to the beat and use their steps to follow the patterns in the music, but somehow it's as if their dance gets in the way of the music, distracts from it, even. I guess from a dance point of view there's nothing wrong with that, but I could watch Ismael all night, I'd look forward to watching that undemonstrative and unassuming dance that makes me listen very clearly as I watch, and is effortlessly graceful.

PS: I should add that this apparently undemonstrative dance also attracts many of the best partners of all ages...

PPS: Apologies! I forgot to link in the clip. Now you too can watch!

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