Ballroom Dance > "Dance Face"

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by evanluck, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. evanluck

    evanluck Member

    When I see ballroom dancers or other competitive partner dancers on So You Think You Can Dance, they are often accused of "pulling their faces" when they dance. That is they are noticed make faces that seem inauthentic and over-gestured.

    More and more I am seeing photographs of world class dancers where the dancers have very exaggerated expression on their faces.

    Do you make faces when you dance? Do you like the amount of gesturing that has become common place in the dancesport world? Is it just a format difference where in television interactions can be more subtle given the closeness of the audience afforded by the cameras?
  2. drejenpha

    drejenpha Member

    I constantly fight my face for control over what it looks like. Without any concentration towards looking happy (or being extremely happy or tired) I look much too serious, bit of a frown as I'm concentrating on dancing and not running into anyone. I knew a guy that did vowels for facial expressions, it was a challenge to watch without laughing a little but it was better than my slight negative/lack of expression.
  3. evanluck

    evanluck Member

    interesting you have the same problem when you just listen to music and move to it without try to move in any certain way?

    When I first started learning how to dance I had to think about what I was doing when I was dancing. This made me have "thinking face" which for me was slightly empty looking or looking down to the ground.

    When I got more comfortable and I could dance without really thinking, my faces became a natural expression of the music I was dancing to and my interactions with the partner that I was dancing with.
  4. kckc

    kckc Active Member

    here is my take:

    When people I know see dance costumes or close-up pictures etc, they always remark on how over-the-top everything seems. What I think people fail to notice is that dance isn't necessarily meant to be seen close-up. It is more like a play- the dancers have to be prepared to be seen from a distance. Not like upper balcony, but at least from the back tables surrounding the floor. Hence, make-up and costumes are meant to make the couples movement and look be seen and not be washed out by the lights. TV has made everything so close-up and intimate that you see things that look outrageous when they weren't meant to be seen in HD. This includes facial expressions.

    Just my rambling observation before coffee...
  5. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I find that the longer I dance, the more expressive I have become, I think for me it is a product of three things that have not much to do with making a conscious decision...1).I am naturally an expressive person, 2) I think as I practice difficult concepts alot my face just naturally expresses the feeling inside of getting my body to execute those things just the way I want it to work, and 3), I think that it just subtley creeps in from watching so much ballroom dance where other folks are expressing similarly.
  6. sambanada

    sambanada Active Member

    When the face looks not natural, it is not attractive. I admire facial expression that comes from within, from the feeling.
  7. Dancebug

    Dancebug Well-Known Member

    It seems to me that some of the dancers' facial expressions are choreographed as well. I watched some pro competition, paying special attention to their facial expressions. I noticed some dancers make the same facial expressions at the exactly same figures from round to round. Maybe they were not consciously choreographed, but after years of practice, they just do it automatically. I heard from a couple of top pros that their goal as an accomplished dancer is to be able to do the consistent good performance under any kind of circumstances. So maybe facial expressions become part of the performance.
  8. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    This. If you see faces of stage actors close up, they look a bit silly as well--that's why stage makeup is overexagerated. Everything is "bigger" because you're projecting, which in theater at least doesn't just apply to your voice.
  9. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    and a good argument can be made that we dance to the tips of our fingers, to the top of our heads, of course we would dance our face
  10. NonieS

    NonieS Well-Known Member

    ballroom facial expressions are more extreme than in, say, ballet... but then ballroom is a bit more "garish" than ballet... and I don't mean that in a negative way....
  11. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    But ballet makeup, seen up close, is EXTREMELY harsh (not "Black Swan" level of weird, but up close it looks downright bizarre because doing the makeup so it looks normal at speaking distance means the face is muddled at performing distance.)
  12. NonieS

    NonieS Well-Known Member

    and ballroom makeup isn't?? LOL ;)

    Any stage makeup is terrifying up close.. My mom told me I looked like a scary tranny in my latin makeup and I was very proud.

    **OT** Actually, sometimes even TV makeup is weird.. I remember once seeing The Colbert Report live and Stephen Colbert looked sooooo odd up close because he had on mad foundation. Conan O-Brien looks even more weird because he is so pale, they have to put on so much foundation so he won't look washed out..

    **BOT** But I was talking specifically of facial expressions in my last post. I have yet to see the kinds of "face pulling" in ballet or modern that I do in Ballroom. They are different styles, so I don't see why that's a problem, but it certainly does explain why on SYTYCD they criticize the ballroom dancers facial expressions a lot.. and their latin hands, which I got called out for all the time in ballet haha.
  13. HCMikeC

    HCMikeC New Member

    I have been and probably still am guilty of "pulling my face" at times. It can be such a hard battle. I watch videos and say "ugh, what was I thinking/feeling/doing" at a particular moment, and as a result, try and tone it down at my next competition. If I go too far in the other direction, I feel like I look bored when I dance. There is definitely a happy medium, for me. I'll let you know when I find it!
  14. Naululani

    Naululani Member

    To me, facial expression is something come natural. Just like when you scratch dog's tummy the move the hind leg... I thank the face is mirror image of my internal talk.
  15. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    The hardest thing for me is coming up with something when I know I'm supposed to have a facial expression and it's...not. Especially rhumba. I have no idea what my expression is supposed to be. (Not that it really matters at bronze, but someday.)
  16. wonderwoman

    wonderwoman Well-Known Member

    I think it's part of expressing the character or mood of a dance. I wouldn't expect to see the same facial expressions in a foxtrot as in a tango. I know what the OP is referring to and what SYTYCD judges have referred to in that way. To each their own, I would rather see something overperformed than underperformed.
  17. ash_sk8s

    ash_sk8s Member

    I totally know what you mean about the over-exaggerated faces. I remember at my first comp seeing two ladies practicing their faces, and telling each other what sounds they pretend like they are making in order to achieve the certain look. I really dislike when it is TOO fake looking...

    Most of the time, I look like this:

    And then sometimes, I look like this:
    (That's Quickstep, btw...)
  18. Lyra

    Lyra Active Member

    Rhumba is the hardest. I've never really had to think too much about the others, but I always felt that I had soppy expressions in rhumba. My teacher used to tease me something rotten. I'd be concentrating really hard on something and he'd go "remember it's the dance of luuuuurve." And then I'd collapse in a heap, or hit him. Or both.
  19. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    The first coaching lesson I ever had was with Pat Traymore, and we were working on Bolero. Among many other things, she was talking about facial expressions, and what it was supposed to look like, or rather I'm supposed to look *at* my partner. Now, all love to my Rhythm Pro, but, uh...yeah, I couldn't do it without getting the giggles. It's just too silly.
  20. Marisha

    Marisha New Member

    Very interesting notice! I've never thought about it, but I absolutely agree with you)

    Of course, facial expressions are very important and i also think that they should be natural.. but the problem is, to my mind, that while one has the natural ability to express his feelings (doing it easy and with a particular charm), others have to work hard to archive this result.. Dancing without emotions is just monotonous repetition of movements.. it's boring..

    Another problem is (as mentioned) to find the "happy medium".. Once i saw a boy on comp., who stuck his tongue out during the dance.. It didn't look just silly,it looked like he was mentally deranged,though in fact he was absolutely healthy.. he just couldn't control his emotions.. What about me, I v.v. haven't made myself liberate in dance for a long time.. Now i understand that the one reason for this was in my partner.. It's very difficult to express yourself when you feel that you embarrasses your partner or v.v. he makes you confuse) Fortunately now i don't have such problem, but i still have too serious face while doing some difficult figures:)

    And finally about rumba - my coach always ask us to play a wordless dialog in our dance, so each movement become a part of the whole story.. So when you begin to speak with the partner by your eyes, you hardly ever make strange or mixed-up face if there will be a smile and confidence in his eyes)

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