What is Fusion?

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What is Fusion dancing?  How do you define it?

Movement without strict rules, interpretation without judgement, music of any variety.  We see Fusion dancing as literally any motion to any music with any person.  Fusion comes out of the need to improvise, to connect, and to experience dance as an expression of ones own personal style.  Fusion is style of dancing which embraces the possibility of “What if?” and the reality of “Here I am, Expressing!”

Really? You have to give me more than that.

OK, you want to dig deeper than that? so let’s break it down then.  Most partner dances and dance aesthetics are defined by three elements:

  • The Music,
  • How one connects with their partner, and most importantly,
  • The Culture and social expectations thereof

So, for example, Blues aesthetic dance would look like:

  • Blues Music
    • Delta Blues
    • Louisiana Blues
    • etc…
  • Partner connection or Solo
    • 1 to 2 hand connection
    • Relaxed dance frame
    • Athletic posture
  • Grew out from an African-American cultural form of dance, music, art, and expression.

This is an extremely simplified example, used to make the point more than be thorough and 100% accurate.  Following this example, Fusion would be:

  • Any Type of Music
    • Swing
    • Blues
    • Tango
    • Hip Hop
    • Pop
    • etc…
  • Partner connection or Solo
    • 1 or 2 hand connection, maybe?
    • Contact style
    • Body framing dependent upon dancers background and where dancers want to be at any particular point in the song
    • No gender preference for Lead or Follow role
  • Grew from people in the multiple dance scenes including Lindy Hop, Tango, Blues and West Coast Swing communities and with the goal of mixing things up

Better?  I hope so; there really is only so much analyzing one can do before just going and finding out.

Fusion and its Culture

This is where it gets interesting.  While the somewhat formal definition above is as encompassing as one can get in the time we felt like spending on it, the truth is that each fusion dance event and community has their own particular twist.  Below is a list of Fusion dances and their take on Fusion:

  • CM Dance’s Hot Night is a monthly, Denver-based Tango-Blues fusion.  It’s events focus strictly on the specific duet of Tango and Blues, bringing the culture and feel of these communities together under one roof.
  • Blues and Swing in Fort Collins carries the lively atmosphere of its chosen ‘parent’ dances.  Informal in nature, the weekly dance features lessons and an open floor late into the night.  It is a Safer Spaces enforced event, encouraging respect and cordial communication between all dancers of all varieties.
  • Hex Fusion in Colorado Springs is a monthly Alt-Blues and Fusion dance event.
  • Fantastic Fusion is a bi-monthly event featuring a variety of DJ’s, music and dancers.  A casual atmosphere focused on getting you on the dance floor.
  • Fusion Underground is a monthly dance with a new theme every month.  Each event includes a lesson on particular style of music, dance or both.  The venue includes snacks, lobby area and two separate dance floors.
  • the Dancing Root in Denver expands upon the freedom and openness of fusion dancing and actively focuses on creating a community of people around it.  Though heavily influenced by Blues-Fusion and Alt-Blues style dances, tDR’s events are always intended to provide a comfortable space for dancers of any and all varieties, an opportunity for its members to think about dance in different ways and the encouragement to explore the self and change.
  • Blues Recess started in a corner of our very own Colorado (way up in Aspen!) and is now a national and international Fusion phenomenon.  Like the Dancing Root, Recess is an open and inclusive community that actively educates, supports and expands upon Alt-dance, Alt-lifestyle and Alt-thought.  Radical Alt, per se.

Colorado Front Range Fusion Dances

Check out this list of Colorado Front Range Fusion Dances if you are looking for more places to dance.

Fusion Music

Quoting the Fusion Exchange Website:

Note: This is for dancers, not academics.

As dancers, we are musically way ahead of the academics. Long before the academics knew enough to either condemn or condone Blues or Jazz, musicians had developed a culture around parties, speakeasies, juke joints… A culture that had its own codes of behavior and slang.  Dancers, like musicians, have always rebelled against the intellectualized “norm”; those folks who sifted through their culture and categorized, labeled and interpreted their culture to the rest of the world.

How do you define music or a dance when it has no pedigree?

This question can be answered in a few ways and the first thing that is important to understand is that definitions change over time as musicians or dancers – and the general public – grow used to “what is” – and get used to the process of evolution towards  “what will be.”

As an example, let’s take blues music since it is the oldest of the Blues/Indigo/Fusion continuum. We can all agree that blues music exists but we must remember that there was a time when it didn’t. Obviously we can observe that blues music has also evolved over time. If you could go back in time with a recording of any of the great Chicago blues musicians of the late 1940s or later and play that recording to a young Duke Ellington, do you think he would say it was “Blues”? Of course not; Blues has evolved since then.

With blues, as with all things that evolve over time, there was a time when an old-timer listening to what a new musician played would say “that’s not music, it’s just noise”. This process has undoubtedly repeated itself for centuries and across every culture. The old timer probably further chided the new musician saying “if that’s music, what do you call it?” This is a classic logic trap:

  1. If the new musician names it, the old timer responds: “Says who? Who else is calling that?”
  2. If the new musician relates it to something else that he does, the old timer responds: “No. It’s not that.”

These same issues concerning different music and dance styles still plague us today. I assert that as DJs (or just music lovers) we need to:

  1. Use names – sometimes multiple names.
  2. Understand that the names and  meanings will change over time.  New names and new meaning will emerge.  “Swing” does not mean today what it meant in 1935.
  3. Understand that part of the development process is disagreement and that disagreement isn’t reason to fold up and go home -or to yell louder. Instead, it is reason to speak and listen with patience.

Final note:  I’m interested in definitions which help us to better understand how to DJ and dance. These definitions are not always tied to musical definitions. For example, music definitions for Lindy Hop, Balboa, Charleston, and East Coast Swing don’t exist as such, but those dances are all danced to “Swing music”. Conversely, telling a DJ to play some “Swing music” when you want to do Balboa may work, but don’t count on it!  For the same reason, understanding the difference between “Fusion Dance Music” and “Fusion Music” is important.

If the Exchange website is down for some reason, here is a PDF of the full page transcript.