Saturday, March 12, 2016

How about the Chassé?

By Daryl Chong, Waikele:

I agree that we must have definition to know what we are about. Dancing to music is pretty much like walking, except that with dancing you can let the body and the rest of it move according to the way the music, "moves" you. So slow and quick steps do not have to be explained to anyone interested in a cultural dance on Oahu.

"Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant.
There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks."

From there you really have only two very very basic movements.  The Rock Step and the Chassé are basic, basic. The Rock step has already been covered in several blogs but I would like to put in few words for the Chassé. It also has six different normal basic dance moves. And like everything else in Cultural dance, there are variations, in Brazil perhaps only a dozen or so. But in Brazil most people dance Basic only, divided into basic basic and intermediate basic and anything more is for the Professionals.

"I'll Remember You" by Don Ho

"Native Child" by Amy Hanaialii

In International there is only one way, the prescribed way, anything else is "incorrect." The Chassé has been formally defined as moving the leading foot followed by stepping with the other foot that stays behind, then stepping forward again with the leading foot. The distinguishing characteristic being that the lead foot stays in the lead.

"Lonely Summers" by Carol Kai

So in the first move the leader moves his left foot forward and puts full weight on it. He brings up his right foot behind the left foot and puts full weight on it. Then he steps forward again with his left foot to complete the Chassé. How they move their knees, hips, body, shoulders and head are all up to the dancers and how they feel the music, We are talking music aren't we?.

"Warehouse Blues" by Willie K

In the second half he goes back and repeats the action. This is the basic, basic and can be repeated and varied to your heart's content. How about a left turn or a right turn. The degrees of direction may be off depending on how the lead interprets the music. The moves can even be curved left or right. He can even lead the lady in a left turn or right turn without even touching her. The ladies are a marvel at following.

If you learn the right rhythm by dancing it to any kind of music you wish to dance it to. You will know your Chassé and no one, on Oahu, can tell you how to dance it.