So… about 5 minutes ago I saw a video. It was supposedly ‘Bachata’. What it really was consisted of an out-of-control diamond, a badly executed lateral, a rough chicote, and a couple other things. Basically, it was horridly executed Brazilian Zouk. It was not Bachata in the *slightest*. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a video like this.
If you know who I’m talking about, I don’t need to tell you the names. If you don’t, then that’s cool – and knowing who the stars of that video were does not impact the message I want to send here.
I love fusion. I love the influence dances can have on each other. I fuse all the freakin’ time. I ran a fusion-based CONGRESS the last two years. BUT:
- I fuse things I have learned, or that are non-risky
- If I borrowed it from somewhere else, I don’t call it my dance’s name (or give it a new name).
- I. Don’t. Teach. It.*
*Unless it is a fusion-labeled workshop between two styles, both styles are identified as their own, I have technical proficiency and teaching proficiency in both styles, it is specifically illustrated that this exists outside of the parameters of either dance, and it is identified that, as a fusion, it will not generally work on individuals who have no knowledge of the second dance style.
About Learning Fusion
In order to execute a movement safely, you need to learn about the movement. This is particularly true since most fusion takes the staples or ‘unique’ aspects of a dance – which are incidentally usually the trickiest, most technical parts of the dance. Basically, fusing complex movements without understanding what the movements actually are is the equivalent to that dancer you can’t stand who learned off of YouTube. Don’t be ‘that guy’. Don’t be the YouTuber of fusion.
If you’re only fusing really basic, safe, upright movements, chances for injury are low. But, keep in mind that dances still have their own technique – technique that require understanding to do the movements properly. While you can play with lines, etc. from other dances, don’t assume that you are ‘doing’ that movement correctly.
You also have a high responsibility for the safety of your partner. If it’s fusion, the likelihood your partner understands what you are doing decreases. This means you have the added responsibility to make sure THEY can handle the move safely. In terms of Zouk, this means head movement is off the table unless they’ve learned the technique – regardless of how well you know what you’re doing. I use Zouk as the example here because it is the dance I understand the most, but it is not a concept limited to Zouk.
About Naming the Movement
You know what I love about the ‘Swouk’ movement? People recognize very distinctly that it is a combination of Brazilian Zouk and West Coast Swing. People get that it’s not a ‘new style’, and people get that the movements come from varied backgrounds. You know what I dislike about Bachata using Brazilian Zouk? They don’t name the things they took from Brazilian Zouk as Brazilian Zouk – or even as Brazilian Zouk Inspired. They call it Bachata or ‘Sensual Bachata’.
Calling me a chiropractor when I’m a physiotherapist doesn’t make me a chiropractor. I can read a textbook on chiropractic practices, and I still won’t know how to crack your back properly. You can tell people I’m a chiropractor, and I might be able to fool them with all my textbook-learned language – but I’m still not a chiropractor. And really, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that when I mess with your body. Of course, there are chiropractors who are also physiotherapists – and they may merge their practices in dealing with clients. BUT they learned both of the practices – and they call elements of each for what they are.
If you’re going to fuse – and especially if you’re building a brand based on fusion – call it for what it is. Don’t pretend it’s your creation when it isn’t. It’s fusion – and there’s no shame in that, because fusion is awesome. So call it fusion.
If you didn’t learn the thing you’re fusing it with, make sure people know that so they don’t think it’s the essence of the other dance. Seriously, one of the worst things about being a Zouk dancer and watching ‘fusions’ that both a) don’t call it a Zouk fusion and b) haven’t gotten trained is that I’m watching the video and thinking only one thing:
At that point, I’m torn between actually telling people it’s fused with Zouk because they are taking credit for a dance I love – or not saying anything because the technique is so bad that I don’t want that to be a newbie’s first impression of Zouk.
So, you want to teach fusion? Learn it right. Go spend the time, money and effort so that you know what you are talking about. It is not fair to your students or the practitioners of the dances for you to half-ass it.
As soon as you teach, your obligations skyrocket. You are responsible for telling your students the origins of the movements they are learning. You are responsible for keeping their bodies safe by teaching them proper technique. You are responsible for their education. If you mess up, your students are the ones who suffer – and sometimes it’s not reversible damage.
Take this seriously. If you want to teach a combination of two dances, learn and label them properly before you hit the teaching floor. It’s not an option – it’s a responsibility.
And, whatever you do, don’t pretend it’s ‘yours’. It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the original dance style. So, give it the credit it deserves. Do it justice both with your words and your dancing. Make fusion something to aspire to – rather than something that we dread running across on YouTube.