Ivy B. Grey:
Fusion is the intentional combination of various elements of dance – ranging from styling, to movements or patterns, to technique – inspired by the music. It is driven primarily by the sounds, melodies, and rhythms contained in the music and interpreted by the dancers. Fusion draws from the dancer’s collective dance knowledge, background, and experience. This allows dancers to blend a multitude of dances, including blues, Argentine tango, west coast swing, lindy, waltz, hip-hop, and more to create something new and get the most from each dance with every partner.
Not to tote the party line, but my definition is summed up perfectly by the Fusion Exchange’s official definition…this is primarily because I’m the one who wrote the first draft of it! I have, however, always felt that Fusion is the idea that you can dance to practically every style of music that you hear. This leads to creating new organic movements or utilizing elements from various established dance styles to match your physical movement to the sounds of the music as closely as possible. It requires, therefore, a broad yet thorough understanding of lead and follow technique, typically honed through the lenses of multiple dance forms. Fusion, in this sense, is the farthest thing away from “anything goes” that you can get since it relies on intimate knowledge of dance technique.
When you take a type of dance developed for one type of music and dance it to another, that’s Fusion. When you take a movement from one dance and interpret it through the lens of another, that’s Fusion. And lastly, when you’re doing something cool, partnered and musical that someone, somewhere would call heretical, that’s probably Fusion as well.
Lauren F Henry:
Fusion is when two people of various styles of dance meet on the social dance floor to move to the music using originality, structure, and the chemistry between them. Fusion is not simply dancing randomly to non-traditional music. Instead, fusion dancing happens when at least 2 styles of dance and its rules combine into a new pattern or form of movement. Fusion is taken to the next level when both partners have studied a variety of dance styles and moves and understand their rules when executing them during a dance.
Fusion is when you step onto the dance floor and the music inspires you to pull from all the dance styles you’ve ever learned. It’s connecting to the music, to your partner, to yourself, and letting your movement tell the story of the sound around you. Freedom – that is Fusion to me.
Our approach to “Fusion” takes traditional elements of a dance (vocabulary, technique or aesthetic, etc.) and finds the bridges to elements of other dances. By exploring and exploiting these bridges for new information, we create expressive dancing that can be danced to a variety of music and that doesn’t fit neatly into any category! We encourage our students to study various dances and styles and most importantly to learn about music…because the more knowledge and experience that one has, the better one is able to exploit the bridges.
Fusion dancing is the ultimate expression of creativity. It allows couples to dance without limits and it encourages creativity, rather than limit it with “boxes.” That’s not to say you can do whatever you please, however you please—one still has to reflect the main drive of creativity the music. Being able to dance to any song, and extract random bits of muscle memory that would “fit” in a song is the ultimate freedom. Mixing some swing, a little blues, and even some hip-hop to “I want you back” by the Jackson 5 would not be considered strange at all, and in fact, would seem quite natural (aka Fusion).
Much like Bruce Lee’s approach to martial arts in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, Fusion represents an approach to me rather than a style. It is about experiencing freedom through connection with your own body, your partner, and how the music directs you to dance. It is neither for nor against any particular style. Through Fusion, you are able to experiment with your own body type and flow and see which dances make sense to your expression of movement. For me it is a vehicle of freedom. Again, to quote Bruce Lee, “It is a circle without a circumference…” and “…use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it…” and one more, “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless—like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
I see fusion as a mindset rather than a particular style. The essence was captured by Andrew Sutton: Fusing your movement with your partner and the music. It’s about being aware of what you and your partner are capable of and then using that capability to move in a way that makes sense musically. No matter what the background of the dancers, no matter what style of music, there is always some common ground. Fusion is the idea that the best, most enjoyable dances are the ones that find that common ground, regardless of your prior experience or skill level.
Fusing things together is, by necessity, never really going to give you the same thing twice and that’s part of the beauty of it. I think of fusion as the choice to not limit movement vocabulary to one dance language or dialect, or even just to dance vocabulary. Instead, it’s taking the things I know, the things the other person knows, and seeing what combination of those the music brings out of each of us separately and together. I also like to think of it as each of us bringing something to the floor and walking off with something bigger than the sum of our parts. That, of course, allows for slash (blues/tango) or dance-specific fusion, as well as non-slash or more freeform fusion.
Fusion is fusing multiple different dance techniques into one’s personal dance style. All dance styles together help each person connect with each different partner on multiple levels and to multiple different styles of music. Fusion is purposefully ambiguous to allow for open-mindedness and creativity.
Fusion for me is about connection. Connecting past to present by mixing traditional dance moves with modern music. Connecting with partners in new ways and with music in new ways. Connecting freedom of motion with fundamentals of partner dancing. All of these connections allow us to connect with ourselves, our individual interpretation of song and motion, making the dancer an active participant in ongoing dialogue with the music.
Fusion is both a dance and a community to me. It is about taking all of our backgrounds, bringing them to the dance floor in a partner or solo movement, and creating something more than the sum of the parts. It may be tangoing to a hip hop song, or blending lindy hop and blues to a west coast song. It stretches us to think beyond our comfort zones and push our minds to create something more than just what is common or acceptable. It is about people from different backgrounds and heritages and identities coming together for a common purpose that is a passion for each of us. Fusion brings people together, bonds us through our similarities, and illuminates how our differences complement each other. Fusion cannot be one without the other. And that is beautiful.