Clean Technique. What is it and how do we get more of it in our work?
Before I became acculturated to classical forms of ballet and dance, I literally could not see the difference between clean work and dirty work. There is a certain level of class or cultural education you need to have before you are offered the opportunity to see and appreciate the aesthetic that is offered in clean tech. As a farmer’s daughter who spent most of my childhood in swamps catching frogs, this concept was drastically foreign to me. But, it is important to learn to develop an eye for such things if one is going to be a professional Flow Artist or juggler.
To learn this, the concept desperately needs to be broken down into pieces and explained, as I needed to do for myself to see it with my own eyes. The people who praised clean technique in the past always just seemed like pretentious know it all’s that were trying to kill everyone’s enthusiasm. The reality is that those people are looking for a more sophisticated picture. Personally, I love watching someone flow within their innocence. But the best performances are one’s that hold what I call sophisticated innocence.
It is not cool to kill the innocence for the sophistication. Enthusiasm and character are as important as aesthetic. Without playfulness and improvisation, there is no expression or art. We create through our technique and having clean tech gives us more “words” to express ourselves. In teaching technique, we can begin to change our dialogue and start giving very specific, constructive critiques, without insulting people’s attempts at expression. Then people can actually change their work accordingly, so they can express their spirited enthusiasm more gracefully.
If we critique those who don’t have an eye for lines with a statement like “Your work isn’t clean” it’s nonconstructive. There is no meaning in those words without a developed eye. The fact is “clean technique” is actually just jargon for gracefulness. Try it.
“Her performance just wasn’t clean” to “Her performance just wasn’t graceful.”
It’s almost exactly the same idea. Let’s face it, grace isn’t something that comes naturally. Dancers work their whole lives to achieve it.
and it goes further to quote Edmund Burke
“Gracefulness is an idea not very different from beauty; it consists of much the same things. Gracefulness is an idea belonging to posture and motion. In both these, to be graceful, it is requisite that there be no appearance of difficulty; there is required a small inflection of the body; and a composure of the parts in such a manner, as not to encumber each other, not to appear divided by sharp and sudden angles. In this ease, this roundness, this delicacy of attitude and motion, it is that all the magic of grace consists, and what is called its je ne sais quoi…”
When you think something isn’t clean, you are really saying that it isn’t aesthetically pleasing. If you’ve been asked for critique, offer of specific reasoning. Point out specific moves and moments in which the alignment, control, speed or presentability of the work was off. What made the whole act less than it could have been? How was the original intention of their expression muddled? This is what we should be striving to find when we are looking to improve our technique.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Clean Technique where break this concept down further giving 10 specific pointers to work on your own grace.