Learning about transitions is critical to having a smooth flowing performance, one that is more polished and pleasing to the eye. Not being aware of how effortlessly to move from one movement or combo to another and not using clean transitions leaves your dance choppy and disjointed. Entire workshops have been dedicated to transitions.
What brought this back to light for me was a lovely dancer with some decent dance skills, that I recently watched. It was more like… ok check out what I can do here, ok, hold on, check out how I do this, ok how about this…you get the picture. It totally broke up the performance with all the stop and go. Determining how to link your dance components or movements together take some effort and practice, but it looks so much better.
Part of what you want to pay attention to is weight changes and weight shifts. Know where your weight is when you end a movement so you know what movement or pause would connect you better to the next set of movements. You don’t want to hop or fidget around trying to adjust your weight to be on the right foot nor do you want to sit there or fumble your way through like you didn’t know what to do to get to the next combo.
So for example, especially with improv, if you’re on your right foot, think of what movement or combo fits and feels best starting on your left foot. Or determine how it fits to just shift your weight with a subtle movement like a hip lift or figure 8. With choreography, you can deliberately determine which moves go where and how to get there. In either case, listen to the music and hear what it tells you to do. Make it flow from one movement to the next fluidly.
The same concept goes for styles and songs. Transition smoothly from one to the next. Don’t make it appear like the finale if it’s not. For example, if you are doing a set and you end with the big ta-da, people think you are done. Then you start up again and it’s confusing. You can end a piece more subtly and internally without the dramatic “finale” and save that for the true end.
And if you’re switching up styles, give yourself and people watching a moment to digest it. When the music has now turned into some completely different rhythm and style such as a zar section from something much more Arabic, pause and absorb or slowly move into that feel. This happens a lot with drum solos. The drummer will be doing some typical rhythms and next thing you know they’ve switched up on you to a completely different tempo or rhythm that makes you adjust to what they are playing. It may be abrupt or they may musically transition you depending on how they play.
Learning how to make your dance performance more fluid and connected is so much better than jarring your audience. It is similar to the flexibility of a chain that is all ringed together, working individually, yet as one as each link yields to the next. Practice how your movements, songs and style changes work best with one another and how to get from A to B, and you and your audience will be pleased with the results!