As dancers, we learn the importance of anticipation. We prepare ourselves to launch into a jumping and leaping sequence so that we hit our most dramatic height at the correct time. We estimate the space and rhythm needed to arrive at the high point over and over again during rehearsals. So when we are on stage it appears effortless. More than that, it becomes engrained in our bodies.


Anticipating evolves into a habitual behavioral pattern for most dancers. We use it outside of the dance studio as well. On busy streets, we can sense the general configuration of pedestrian traffic and anticipate the openings and slip through them without conscious thought. Spatial awareness and timing have been practiced so much that we, as dancers, seem to flow through our travels.


Dancers may have different perceptions of anticipation. There are those dancers that consistently are early on the beat or just a hair late. Experienced choreographers learn to use these slight discrepancies to enhance their dance pieces. A dancer that is always early isn’t necessarily the best choice to utilize as the leader in a section that needs absolutely strict adherence to timing. However, in a composition that finds its power mostly in emotional expression, the early anticipator might be the perfect dancer to foreshadow what is to come in the composition.


Like musicians with perfect pitch that agonize when a fellow singer is off key, dancers that are on the mark find that moving with early or late anticipators can cause them to wince. In such cases, the dancers involved must learn to adjust their individual sense of anticipation to accommodate all of the movers in a way that makes the choreographer’s vision a success.


This sense of anticipation can carry over into our personal relationships as well. We discern the slight shifting of bodies that signifies it’s time to say goodbye when we meet up with our friends and family. We perceive the sleepiness of a toddler before the fists come up to rub the eyes. We are aware of the ebb and flow of those we interact with – the space and rhythm of the life around us.


Sometimes we know more than others want to reveal. Unconsciously observing loved ones through this habit of anticipation, we can know when a love relationship is over before the partner is even aware of his own feelings. Or we can see that a colleague is about to depart for greener grass at another job before anyone else recognizes it. Or we grasp the consequences of the vehicles at a stoplight and brace for the accident before it happens.


Outside of the studio, reevaluation of anticipation in personal relationships occurs as well. What seems slow to one person may feel like breakneck speed to the other. What is most important is finding the spacing and rhythm that works best for both to achieve the common vision. The relationship composition should be a fit for each person.


If all else fails, the choreographic alternative is to find another dancer with a more complimentary sense of anticipation.



© 2012 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.