Dance Arena with Rick Tjia Ep. 1. - Think, Feel, Do: The Dancer's Communication Dilemma - StageLync

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Dance Arena with Rick Tjia Ep. 1. – Think, Feel, Do: The Dancer’s Communication Dilemma

One of the most important, nay, one of the most essential questions in the world consists of one single word: “Why?”

Dancers don’t really ask that question. Choreographers certainly don’t ask it nearly enough.  Actors do ask it, perhaps even too much, but they don’t always seem to listen to the answer.

I am going to start this article with this exact question – why?  Why do we dance?

Why do we sing? Why do we paint? Why do we write?

And the answer is the same one that I give over and over again, in conversation, while teaching, while having a pint with the boys (or with the girls, as the case may be; I tend not to converse about things like football): to communicate.

Hearing myself say it over and over, I unfortunately find that the word is starting to become a cliché for me. When I look in a thesaurus for synonyms, I find, amongst others, the words “connect”, “contact”, and “convey”.  In the long list of other synonyms I do not find any one word that effectively englobes what the actual word “communication” does –but perhaps these three synonyms can effectively portray at least the concept.  And although the word “communication” may become a cliché, I can only hope that the concept does not.

The communication between individuals dancing is undeniable.  We dance because there are some things that just cannot be communicated with words.  Dance is an abstract language, and as such does not follow the same rules of narration as storytelling or traditional theater (although we keep trying to do so, with varying lukewarm degrees of success).

Since we are human beings, we are characterized by three processes tightly linked with communication. We think, we feel, we do.  That simple.

The “doing” part is never a problem for dancers.  The feeling part – questionable. In my experience, dancers do a lot to try and hide this part, whether consciously or unconsciously.  And when they go on stage, they fabricate feeling, often explained away by citing what their character should be feeling, and subsequently justifying burying their own emotions even deeper into their little internal box.

But there is always a touch of reality in interpretation. There is if you are good, anyway.  In order to touch another human being, you cannot fabricate emotion.  You just redirect it and put it in a different context.

The “thinking” part, for dancers, is also questionable.  Most either overthink things or they just don’t.  Tell me what to do and I’ll follow without question.  The process of analysis is an unfortunately underrepresented aspect of the dance world.

Think, feel, do. That simple. Or at least, it should be.

As dancers striving to project something on stage, you must understand that the mind, body, and the heart are the three things that make us all uniquely human.  If you hope to touch an audience with what you do on stage, then you must be prepared to use all three.

Otherwise the concept is lost, and only the cliché remains.

Rick Tjia
Founder of Choreography Online and JamarGig -UNITED STATES, CANADA
Rick's multifaceted career spans diverse disciplines in the world of entertainment. Starting with tap dancing and branching into classical ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary dance under renowned teachers, his journey encompasses an extensive background in dance, acting, and even music, including performances with prestigious companies like Ballet Austin, Boston Ballet, and Delta Festival Ballet. Beyond the stage, he delved into film and television in Los Angeles, working with renowned choreographers and directors. His creative talents extend to composing, choreographing, judging dance competitions, and teaching workshops globally. With over 16 years as a Talent Scout at Cirque du Soleil, specializing in dance, Rick has contributed significantly to casting, operational and business strategies, and creative innovations. He's also a founder of innovative projects like Choreography Online and JamarGig.

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Rick Tjia

Rick's multifaceted career spans diverse disciplines in the world of entertainment. Starting with tap dancing and branching into classical ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary dance under renowned teachers, his journey encompasses an extensive background in dance, acting, and even music, including performances with prestigious companies like Ballet Austin, Boston Ballet, and Delta Festival Ballet. Beyond the stage, he delved into film and television in Los Angeles, working with renowned choreographers and directors. His creative talents extend to composing, choreographing, judging dance competitions, and teaching workshops globally. With over 16 years as a Talent Scout at Cirque du Soleil, specializing in dance, Rick has contributed significantly to casting, operational and business strategies, and creative innovations. He's also a founder of innovative projects like Choreography Online and JamarGig.