Fusion Dance: What is it? Why do we Dance it?

New and seasoned dancers, join me on a journey to explore: What is Fusion Dance. Share in the comments the kind 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

What do we mean when we talk about Fusion Dance? In a given community, it seems like there is only one definition. However, not every community means the exact same thing! First, I’ll cover some of the different dance forms referred to as “Fusion.” Then, join me to go into a deeper exploration of what we, in the corner of the partner dance world near the contemporary Blues scene, mean when we say “Fusion Dance.”

First, some of the dance forms referred to as “Fusion” are:

Even within the Fusion Partner Dance world, there are a variety of things we mean when we say “Fusion.” Continue below to read some definitions and examples.

In the Partner Dance World

Fusion music

Fusion Music: Music that inspires dance but is not necessarily from a genre of music typically associated with a given dance style.

In order to dance, most Fusion dancers in the Partner Dance World prefer to have specific characteristics in their dance music. When we say “Fusion music,” we usually mean music that contains rhythms. Sometimes, we also mean music that is lyrical and emotionally inspiring. If music contains rhythms, those rhythms are not necessarily found in any other genre of dance music, though they can be! Fusion music inspires a dance aesthetic that could be said to be derived from a variety of dance-forms (or none at all).

If a song is from a specific dance genre, can it also be a Fusion song? It is possible, and generally culturally acceptable, 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). It’s generally considered inappropriate to play songs from only one dance genre at a Fusion dance. 

Fusion dance

There are at least three definitions of “Fusion dance” commonly used in the Fusion Partner Dance Community:

1) Fusion-as-Philosophy

Fusion-as-Philosophy: Dancing in a way that expresses the music using whatever capacity for dance and movement the dance partnership has at its disposal.

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:
    • Lessa Lamb and Monty Norris
    • Isaac Rufus Rosen-Purcell and George Longshadow
2) Fusion-as-Fusion

Fusion-as-Fusion: The deliberate mixing of two or more defined dance styles.

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:
    • Nick Jones and Diana Cruz (using elements from Blues and Tango)
    • Jeannie Lin and Heriberto Perez (using elements from Tango and various Ballroom dances)
3) Fusion-as-Aesthetic

Fusion-as-Aesthetic: A dance form having its own aesthetic, culture and movements.

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:
    • Kelly Howard and Wren LaFeet
    • Wren LaFeet and Antje Schafer

Fusion Definitions in Google Doc Format (Feel free to share this doc with attribution; it might be more updated than what’s written above.)

Why Fusion?

As we categorize and define what is fusion, we sometimes overlook 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. Use them to help you describe what you see in different communities you visit and more accurately express your own preference within the Fusion Dance Community. Share the kind of Fusion Partner Dance you do in the comments!

 

And, if you’re looking to learn how to do the “Fusion Dance,” here’s a quick tutorial. ;)

 

 

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