By Steve Powell
Having been fortunate enough to adjudicate the early sessions of the recent British Open Dance Festival, I was able to witness, up close and personal, the tragedy of the modern interpretation of Quickstep. Whilst I am always in favour of developing and improving our beautiful Art form I feel that the presentation of this dance has now deteriorated almost to the point of no return.
Gone is the beauty and skill of Chasses with closing of the feet, lock steps with side leads to avoid attacking the balance of our partners, swing actions with running finishes, etc. In fact we now have a dance that contains absolutely no recognisable figures or actions that are contained within the Techniques we hold so dear, making Quickstep increasingly difficult to teach. In fact, in many cases the couples would be better coached by Usain Bolt, the World Champion sprinter except he would have to learn how to do this backwards in high heeled shoes (thanks to Ginger Rogers for that line).
The ever-increasing quest for speed and progression has destroyed a once-beautiful dance.
Unfortunately we have developed a system of competition that now does not give the adjudicator the power to say “no more” or “enough is enough.” When our job involves recalling a certain number of couples to the next round and the vast majority of those couples perform the dance in a totally offensive manner (in my humble opinion) we lose any possibility to control this adverse development. In general, at Blackpool, the standard of skill shown by all couples in Waltz, Foxtrot and Tango exceeded their Quickstepping abilities by 100%. The look of panic and stress in their faces is overwhelming.
The answers can only lie with the following:
1. Our Champion level couples must portray the dance in a manner that utilises the skill and ability they portray in the other dances. This would set the benchmark for dancers at all levels to attain.
2. Most importantly Coaches, who in many cases seem to try to disguise a couples lack of skill and artistry by overloading the choreography with 96 bars of cheap thrills. Please be more responsible in your choices before we lose this dance forever. Always remember the only important part of the dance floor is the very small part on which you are standing.
I welcome any comments you all have on this subject, in agreement or otherwise.