What is Fusion Dance?
Hello folks, Aimee here adding some words to the internet that might be helpful for future dancers on What is Fusion Dance. I’d love to hear from you at the end what sort of Fusion Dance you do and if there are any other categories of Fusion Dance we could add to the definition. For now, come along on a definitions adventure with me!
The Broad Perspective
Not everyone means the exact same things when they say “Fusion Dance.” So, what do we mean when we say it? First, I’ll cover some of the different dance forms referred to as “Fusion” and then go into a deeper exploration into the various ways we, in the corner of the partner dance world near the contemporary Blues scene, mean when we say “Fusion Dance.”
There are lots of ways people refer to dance as fusion, such as:
- combining to become a character with twice the powers á la DragonBallZ
- putting together all the different kinds of ‘hip hop’ into one routine to a variety of songs (which are actually distinct dances from various places and times but often erroneously all referred to as Hip Hop – to enter this rabbit hole, here’s an article you can start with). This happened much more under the banner of ‘fusion’ in 2005-2008 and now isn’t necessarily referred to as fusion, though there are still events. Here is the 1st place team from a 2017 competition called “Fusion XVII.”
- there is even the 24-hr Fusion Challenge on Dancing with the Stars mixing smooth and latin ballroom dances to a popular song
- and, of course, fusion partner dance.
Even within the Fusion Partner Dance world, there are a variety of things we mean when we say “Fusion.” Below are some definitions and examples.
In the PartnerDance World
Music that contains or evokes rhythms that are not necessarily found in any other genre of dance music and that evokes aesthetic that could be said to be derived from a variety of dance-forms (or none at all). Music that inspires dance but is not necessarily from a genre of music typically associated with a given dance style. Note: It is also possible, and generally culturally permissible, to play music that is considered to be from a specific dance genre at a Fusion dance where it may or may not be danced to in its native aesthetic.
Encompassing multiple definitions:
1) Dancing in a way that expresses the music using whatever capacity for dance and movement the dance partnership has at its disposal (Fusion-as-Philosophy);
Characteristics of Fusion-as-Philosophy include:
- Using creative elements of dance to co-compose a dance including the elements of space, time, and energy
- Meeting one’s partner where they are (in skill, capacity, and (dance) frame of reference)
- Two dancers from different backgrounds co-creating a dance to music they’ve never heard before
- Video examples:
2) The deliberate mixing of two or more defined dance styles (Fusion-as-Fusion).
Characteristics of Fusion-as-Fusion include:
- Using moves specific to a particular dance form (eg. boleos (tango), swing out (lindy hop), shines (salsa), chicote (zouk), etc) in context with another dance form
- Incorporating the aesthetics (eg. blues pulse, kizomba pulse, lindy pulse, tango frame, cuban hip action, ballroom posture, etc) of one or more specific dance forms into a dance to a different style of music
- Applying different modes of connection with your partner (derived from an already existing style of dance)
- Video examples:
3) A dance form having its own aesthetic, culture and movements (Fusion-as-Aesthetic).
Characteristics of Fusion-as-Aesthetic include:
- Valuing the individual moving their own body and co-creating the dance together (includes switch dancing, some low-tone connection paradigms, etc)
- Fullness of extension in solo and partnered movement
- Expressing the self authentically
- Video examples:
Fusion Definitions in Google Doc Format (Feel free to share this doc; it might be more updated than what’s written above.)
One piece that often gets overlooked as we try to categorize and define what is fusion is why people come together to do “Fusion.” I can’t speak to why in DragonBallZ… but I’m sure someone reading this article can add something in the comments. I can let people who do “Fusion” speak for themselves.
From the organizers of the Fusion XVII Hip Hop Festival: “…to provide new dancers with the opportunity to be inspired by, grow, and join the growing dance community, to welcome dancers as a family and give them a place to perform, and to provide the audience with a memorable show.”
From fusion partner dance organizer and instructor, Emily Webb, “Fusion allows me to dance my heart.”
Here at the Dancing Root, we come together to dance fusion (usually either definitions 1 or 3) to feel comfortable being ourselves and to learn to express more with our bodies than we could before. We’d love to have you join us!
I hope this post has given you some ways to think about Partner Fusion Dance that might help you describe what you see in different communities you visit and more accurately express your own preference within the Fusion Dance Community. What sort of Fusion Partner Dance do you do?
And, if you’re looking to learn how to do the “Fusion Dance,” here’s a quick tutorial. ;)