Directed Gaze – Directing Energy in Dance

April 27, 2012 Caroleeena hoopdanceHoopingPoiUncategorized

Gaze Directed Over the Balcony


Directed Gaze is a dance concept, a way of directing focus, a way of directing energy. We can make people look at things by looking at them. Don’t believe it? Go out on any street, stop and look up in the sky. Watch what happens. By directing the gaze, the dancer directs both energy and focus, and the focus of anyone watching. In Indian classical dance, there is a saying, “Where the hand goes, the eyes follow.” If the hand circles to the inside, the eyes circle to the inside. In flamenco, dancers utilize the balcony, a balcony they create with one arm across the body at mid-waist. They create a balcony and then look out, over, and straight down at the ground from that perch. This gaze is fierce. This gaze is the eye of the eagle. This gaze grounds the dancer and creates another point of balance.

Both of these create lines. They create sharp profiles. They highlight our eyeballs in interesting and unique ways. They focus the dancer’s energy. They focus the energy of anyone watching.

I have been playing with directed gaze for a few years and I’ve learned some things.

The gaze can follow a moving arm or be in opposition to that arm. If the arm points left, the gaze can look  left, or, in opposition, look right. (An anti-spin of gaze as it were.)

The gaze can follow a moving foot. If the foot taps out right, the gaze can look right. The gaze can be directed in opposition to the tapped out foot so that if the foot taps right, the gaze goes left.

Alternation is when the hand moves right, center, left, center… Repetition is when the hand moves right, center, right, center – repeating on only one side. The eyes can repeatedly go to that one side or they can alternate between both sides. Alternation and Repetition are very interesting concepts to pair with directed gaze! (And with each other.)

If you want to make the scene you are creating look bigger, don’t just direct your gaze at the hand, direct it beyond the hand — think hand, then tip of the longest finger, then closest object, then horizon. The farther you focus your energy, the larger your energetic footprint.

Rather than following a moving hand or foot, the gaze can follow a moving hoop, especially if it is tapping out to the side.

flamencoThe open balcony is just a rounded arm. If you held a basket in one arm while picking apples with the other, this is the shape of the flamenco arm. Directing the gaze over this shape and sharply down at the ground is very powerful.

Other ways to direct gaze? Look at people! Look away from people! Look up at the sky! Just don’t relax into always looking into your feet. Open yourself by opening your gaze.

Directing your gaze creates a beautiful profile, clean lines, striking silhouettes, and directs your attention and that of others around you to wherever you choose to direct it. It also makes your eyes themselves look very expressive.

Directed Gaze on the Hoop

Directed Gaze on One Wick of Fire

As I said, I have been exploring directed gaze for a couple of years and it has come to feel very natural and comfortable to me now. It gives my eyes something to do rather than look down at the ground while I’m dancing. It gives me a place to look rather than at other people if I’m self-conscious. It’s a really valuable tool for all movement artists, especially performers. When we direct our energy at our feet because we are self-conscious or very focused, we close people out. We make anyone watching feel like a voyeur instead of allowing them to participate in our experience. Directing our gaze gives us other places to look that don’t close other people out but help us feel less vulnerable. It helps me a lot and I think it looks great. I have noticed it showing up in some of my photos and I thought I’d use them as an example of the impact directed gaze can make.

Gaze Directed at the Fire

Directed Gaze on Bottom Wick of Fire (even as top wick pulls away)

caroleeenadancedirected gazehoopdance

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