Manga Tango

18th February 2009

(More Next Steps articles.)

"Dodge this" ~ Trinity

Manga, in case you don't know, is a Japanese style of cartoon. The Matrix films are based on it. It's been bothering me for a long time where I recognize tango movement from. There are certain characteristics to manga movement. It's very stylized and it's strongly focused on dramatic energy, poise and moments.

Because of its cartoon nature, the characters move constantly in dramatic poses without sacrificing posture, flowing with poise and grace. Note the tango turnout of her rear leg and foot, not to mention a dress that would fit in at most milongas...

Manga makes particular use of energy to draw the focus to the character and away from the background. Rather than the "frame and picture" analogy, the energy of the dance illuminates the dancer(s).

It also makes considerable use of syncopation to shift between the dramatic pauses

into contrasting flurries of motion. However, even within the flurries, the movements retain their crispness

Also important is the changing flow of energy between and around the characters. It's not just one texture. Passion and humour, among other emotions, ebb and flow in the mix. The characters explode form the screen, constantly fighting against an audience with an attention span measured in seconds.

Being able to project that level of intensity throughout a dance, whilst moving cleanly and constantly expressing the ever-changing drama of the music is to me what changes "just moving about while music is played" into dancing.

A word of caution ~ despite being a cartoon, Manga is definitely "adult" rating.

 - Christopher O'Shea, 18th February 2009

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