I like to go swing dancing. Every now and then, I also try to expand my horizons by trying other styles – some latin, some ballroom, a bit of hip hop and jazz, and so forth. A lot of my friends say that they prefer to just dance freestyle, though.
I know that technically, freestyle dancing can refer to any unchoreographed dance. By this definition, it does not preclude dancing the foxtrot or a waltz. For the purposes of this discussion though, I’m using it to refer to dancing where you’re not following any particular style.
So my question is, what do you think of freestyle dancing?
Personally, I find it a lot less satisfying than, say, swing or salsa. I think that freestyle dancing can look great when done well. In my limited experience though, for most people, freestyle dancing basically means shaking and swaying around. This may be fun, but there’s no real artistry involved. (Personally, I usually don’t think it’s much fun at all, but that’s just me.)
It’s kinda like using free verse in poetry. When done right, the results can be beautiful. For most people though, it tends to produce an unstructured mess – one that the poet will tend to justify by saying “But I was doing it in freeform!” I think that in the same way, I think that a good dancer can make freestyling look awesome, but for most, the results tend to be indistinct.
Also, I think there’s a misconception that freestyle dancing is simply “making stuff up.” I disagree with that. A good freestyler may improvise as needed; however, he/she will often draw on other dance styles, such as hip hop or jazz. (In fact, some people mistakenly use the terms “hip hop” and “freestyle” interchangeably. This is incorrect, but it does illustrate how freestyle dancers can employ hip hop moves and other dance moves.) I know that when I’m forced to freestyle, I will often throw in a variety of swing and jazz moves.
IMO, good freestyling will tend to punctuate the music. This can be done by clapping one’s hands, for example, or by pumping one’s arms during key beats in the music, or by freezing during dramatic pauses. With a bit of creativity, one can improvise a lot of clever moves that way. Your typical freestyler, however, doesn’t usually do that.
So again, I think that freestyling can be great when done well. However, I find it less satisfying to do than the more structured styles. It’s usually less fun to observe as well, especially when people think of freestyling as just shaking or swaying around. Great freestylers are a delight to watch, but they’re not very common at all.