Silhouette, Music & Movement - Sir Bill Irvine

by S H Wong (Dr)

Silhouette, Music & Movement - Sir Bill Irvine

On 4 Aug 96, the Doyen and Icon of modern Ballroom Dancing of the World, Bill Irvine MBE, gave a very refreshing lecture to about 40 dance enthusiasts at Singapore. He was assisted by his elegant wife, Bobby Irvin. Bill stressed on three factors in competitive dancing : SILHOUETTE, MUSIC AND MOVEMENT.

To be able to produce an attractive silhouette, a couple must have the right posture. The positions of the head, the shoulders and the hip must be in the right place in relation to the legs and feet. The hold and positions of the hands are of utmost importance in creating this silhouette.

The head-weight of the lady must never extend over her heel. This applies to the gentleman as well. The hold must not be too tight or too loose. Just imagine you have a small little bird in your hand - squeeze it, the bird will die; release your hand, it will fly away.

This delicate hold is very important in ballroom modern dancing. You must be able to walk with your partner before you can dance together with complete freedom of movement.

You are judged the moment you walk onto the dance floor. The posture you adopt and the silhouette you display are being scrutinized even before you start dancing. A couple must therefore be PSYCHOLOGICALLY AND PHYSICALLY PREPARED even before they take the first step in a competition.

The next most important point, Bill Irvine stressed, is MUSIC. A couple must be able to dance to the music in time and with musical expression. He deplored straight-forward timing with no expression and accentuation.

A couple must display varying shades in the interpretation of the music. Bill gave two examples where the expression of the music and accentuation of the movement must be shown very clearly.

In the Waltz, he stressed on the FIRST accentuated beat. In the Foxtrot, he stressed on the accentuation of the THIRD beat. In fact, he noticed that many of the Amateur dancers were off time in the Viennese Waltz and Foxtrot during the Championship held on 3 Aug 96 in Singapore.

The third most important factor in a competition is the ability to move across the floor unimpeded by the partner and maintaining the silhouette all the time. A couple who simply dance their routine without any expression will have very poor rating. Move to the music and dance expressively. This will enhance your chances of becoming a champion.

The lady must be as light as a feather - a ghost in a beautiful gown. She must provide the shape and maintain her poise all the time with the correct head weight, without upsetting the main's posture and vice-versa.

The couple must be able to move smoothly and gracefully as a unit across the dance floor. Both of them must be able to swing freely from their hips.

In conclusion, Bill Irvine confessed that modern ballroom dancing is not easy. It requires years of training and discipline. You must have PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE. You must PRACTISE constantly to maintain the right POSITION AND POSTURE and to achieve PHYSICAL PERFECTION. It is a mental and physical discipline.

If you want to improve your dancing and to compete in the international areana, you must cultivate all these qualities, without which, your dancing will be mediocre and you will not achieve any results.His final advice was to "keep on working hard and maintain that mental and physical discipline to achieve perfection."

It was one and a half hours of excellent demonstration of dancing techniques and every word from his lips was a jewel to be carefully treasured. Those who attended his lecture must have benefited tremendously from his wide experience as a first-class teacher and as a world renowned adjudicator.

This article was published on Sunday 01 September, 1996.
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