Monday, September 10, 2012

That was IMPRESS-Sieve!

Have you ever watched Impress-Sieve dancers?

They pull off amazing moves that you probably will never do.  If you try to copy them, other dancers most likely will wish that you wouldn't have tried (at least on the social dance floor).  That is what we can call very "Impress-Sieve."

I wish I had more tango wisdom as a young musician.  I worked too hard at being Impress-Sieve -- straining out the soul and body of art, leaving only the mind to be in awe of accomplishment.

You see, I wanted to play to impress others, but I did not know what art is all about until I learned from tango:  The Way of Tango, at least for me, is to be present within your own body and with the person with whom you are dancing.  Impressing others is a distraction from true art.  

One way to think about art is to consider the early Greek categories of Mind, Body and Soul -- three circles that entwined themselves.
  • Impressing others is an expression of art that expresses technical genius -- this boggles our Mind.
  • Deeply moving others is the area we call Soul.  If art moves one to sigh in awe, or if tears come to your eyes in spite of not wanting them, art has moved your Soul.
  • Moving others so much that they wish to move or to dance out their feelings of joy or deep love is what we could call the area of art touching the Body.
A friend of mine told me that her daughter sang in church and she heard someone let out a sigh during the song.  Another person wept.  That same weekend she had seen musicians playing at an outdoor festival and some audience members just had to dance.  These are examples of art without a "Sieve."  They all can be technically wonderful, but that is not nearly as important as the balance of Mind, Body and Soul.

Just today, my sister-in-law sent me a video of my old self -- a drummer playing a solo that was truly impressive.  Well, I would have been impressed, but I wasn't.  The term, "Impress-Sieve," came to mind.  I guess that I have grown in wisdom from dancing tango.  The drum solo was truly Impress-Sieve.  I looked up the definition of a sieve:  "A sifter that separates wanted elements from unwanted material using a woven screen such as a mesh or net."  While being Impress-Sieve, he strained out the soul and body of his art.

I asked her, "Did anyone feel closer to their center (soul), or is anyone dancing because they are so moved by his drum solo?"

Musicians, or any artist who creates to impress, forgets what art really is -- something to move the soul, the body, and lastly, the mind. 

Gene Krupa
Any of those who know about the history of the big band period will know the great drummers and band leaders, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.  These two men were known as the best drummers of their time.  Buddy Rich was an incredible technician, but Krupa made the people go wild with solos that made them want to get up and dance.  He often played far more simply than Rich did.  Please watch and listen to this Krupa video clip:  Notice that he uses silence and is not constrained to the drum stool in this video -- the man dances around!

I once emulated a Krupa solo* as my younger son, then age three, was with me in the music room, and he was dancing around.  He finally pleaded with me to stop because he wanted to stop dancing.  What a tribute to the power of art!  He had to dance.  His mind had lost its own volition to the power of art.  

I have said all of this for one main message to dancers-as-artists:  Dance from the soul and be totally present in your body.  This will not be Impress-Sieve at all.  Although I have watched many technically perfect dancers, only a few speak to my soul and body.  Most teachers have an eye for what appeals to the mind.  Only you can be in your own body and dance from the soul.

*Krupa solo: 

Photo Credit:
Sieve drawing


  1. Thats good, your blog is cool, i like it. Thanks for the efforts my friend.

  2. I love your creative coinages, Mark, and especially this one!

  3. Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?

  4. My contact information is on the left hand side of my blog:

  5. Really enjoyed reading your latest blog, Mark. But I have to say that you are being a little too hard on yourself. I've known you since I was 15. We went to school together, and played in one of our first bands together. I watched you develop as a drummer for many years, and I can say in all honesty that I always heard a lot more Rhythm in your playing than I saw "Show". You've always had an affinity for choosing the right rhythms, beats and tempos...I am certain that has translated well into your mastery of the Tango, and other dance forms...

  6. Hey David... were you really 15? I must have been 13 or 14 then! What a great thing to say. We had lots of times that we just practiced together -- good times. I am glad that you are still practicing your craft with your bass. Yes, it is true that there is a transfer of all my music experiences to tango. I never thought about it until know, but I guess I still like playing in a duet! --Mark


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