How to dance while playing violin

How to Incorporate Dance and Movement into Your Violin Performance

Student violinists often aspire to include movement and dance in their performance. Artists like Lindsey Stirling and Máiréad Nesbitt are able to enthrall audiences by incorporating dance moves while playing the violin, and many students wish that there was some type of course or instruction that could teach that ability. Unfortunately for violinists who want to acquire that skill, there’s really no clear-cut method or teaching technique.

Learning to incorporate dance while playing the violin is more of a personal expression than anything else. Although there isn’t a qualified "standard" way to gain this ability, learning to include dance moves isn’t beyond your reach. In a YouTube interview with Lindsey Stirling, she explained that her inspiration and training were all self-taught. That’s good news for violinists who want to try to master this awesome skill. Obviously, you won’t be jumping around the stage barefoot a week after you begin, but by gradually building your ability to move while you play over time, you’ll be able to create your own personal style of violin-dance. The following tips can help get you started.

Loosen Up

Playing the violin isn’t a stationary skill. When you first start learning, you’ll naturally be a little rigid because you are constantly trying to make sure that your form is correct. However, to play the violin accurately, you must not have tension in your arms, wrists, back, hands, or shoulders. In fact, learning to loosen up while playing is one of the fastest ways to make progress. To be able to include dance moves while playing, you’ll definitely need to be relaxed.

Learn to Dip and Sway

The first thing that you’ll need to incorporate in your violin performance is that ability to feel the music and sway to it. Watch great violinists like Joshua Bell or Sarah Chang and observe how their torso moves with the music. See how their backs bend fluidly and the motions they use complement their playing? By moving your body in rhythm with the piece and really feeling the music throughout your body, you’ll start to recognize when to move.

It can help if you’re able to close your eyes and just listen to the sounds you create. Start with a tune that you know very well and try to add small motions at certain points during the piece. After you become comfortable with those, include a few more until you feel natural swaying in your body to the music.

Add Small Steps

Dancing also involves moving your feet, but you don’t want to try too much at once. At first, try walking while you play. Don’t worry about dipping and swaying, just focus on taking small steps as you play. It can help if you have plenty of room for practicing this aspect, and if you know any basic dance steps, this is a good time to use them. Again, don’t focus on your upper body, just concentrate on performing the steps while you play. If you aren’t familiar with some basic dance steps (and incidentally, your arms are almost always close to the right position when you do these), check out these short videos that can offer basic instruction:

  • How to Waltz for Beginners
  • Basic Dance Steps (Wall Street Journal)
  • How to Do the Box Step (Fred Astaire Dance Studio Belmont)

These videos provide a basic guide for learning a few dance moves, but there are tons of others out there. So, if you’ve never danced before, a simple google search can get you started. Remember, at this point, you just want to concentrate on adding small movements with your feet while you play.

Combination and Inspiration

Now that you feel comfortable moving around while you play your violin, you can gradually combine the two. Start off very simply by swaying a little and moving your feet as you sway. Incorporating dance moves with violin performance is a personal expression. Let your body move the way it wants to as you make music.

It’s also a good idea to watch other dancers in a variety of styles. Ballroom dancing, hip hop, ballet, and other techniques offer a wide scope for your ideas. See if there is a certain move that you want to try and break it down into very small steps. That way you can incorporate it without feeling overwhelmed or accidentally dropping or smashing your expensive instrument. Also, watch some videos of successful performers who are able to dance while playing the violin:

  • Granuaile's Dance, Máiréad Nesbitt (Celtic Woman)
  • The Arena, Lindsey Stirling
  • Violin and Tap Combined

Once you’re able to add dance movements into your performance style, you can work on choreographing certain pieces. The thing to remember is to make your moves your own and express yourself through the music and the movements you create.

Playing Violin While Dancing: The Violin Dance

Playing Violin While Dancing

The art of music and the art of dance have always been linked to each other since ancient times. We may even ask ourselves which one came first, the music or the dance.

But it is in modern times that many violinists have attempted to fuse both arts to create a single performance. Names like Lindsay Stirling, Máiréad Nesbitt and Hanine will certainly pop up in any search about violin dance.

It is natural to every performer to move along with the music whenever playing an instrument. It does not matter if it is a piano or a violin, the moves are always there as a natural way of expression.

However, you will never expect a classically-trained violinist to start dancing during the Rondo of a Mozart Violin concerto or during the Allemande of a Bach Solo Sonata.

Works similar to these were often intended to be performed in special halls but never to be danced to. However, it is not until recent times that violin dancing – the art of playing the violin while dancing – became a more popular thing.

Some star violinists definitely played a very important role in the popularization of this art, and inspired many other artists to follow the same steps and also gain international recognition through social media.

For this article we chose three names that got millions of views on YouTube and certainly have influenced many other modern violinists to make up their own performances, either in huge stages with all the light and sound effects, or in the streets with a high flow of people.

The three names we would like to introduce you to are the American Lindsey Stirling, the Lebanese Hanine, and the Irish Máiréad Nesbitt.

The American born star violinist Lindsey Sterling started broadcasting her performances on her channel on YouTube in 2007. With over 3 billions of views, she attracts many subscribers daily to her YouTube channel.

Although she had talent for both playing and dancing since childhood, she had to choose between dancing or playing the violin due to her family financial conditions. She chose the violin, but the dream for becoming a dancer never died.

Although she makes doing both things simultaneously look easy, the star violinist who got internationally known after her performance in America’s Got Talent show states that in the beginning doing both things at the same time was a very hard task.

In her own words: “It is very unnatural to dance while playing the violin. I had to practice so hard to learn how to do it, but now it is part of my expression and it comes naturally.

I have to know a song perfectly before I can even begin to move. Once I know a song really well, I can then have fun dancing.”

Indeed, the unnaturalness of playing and dancing at the same time comes from the need of the violinist to keep the balance of the instrument, not loosing control of the bow.

As the body moves, the synchrony between bow and instrument must be kept. Every small change in pressure or speed of the bow may produce unwanted noises and can affect the performance negatively.

It also takes a good dosis of coordination in order to move both hands and both legs in synchrony. Let alone doing specific moves such as in hip-hop and dubstep, two genres that Lindsey Stirling has mastered.

Also difficult are the moves for the Celtic dancing, which have become popularized by the dancer violinist Máiréad Nesbitt.

The Irish fiddler Máiréad Nesbitt gained international recognition after performing with the group Celtic Woman, a successful group of female performers.

Having started to learn music at a very early age, her style was strongly influenced by violinists like Irish fiddlers Liz Carroll and Michael Coleman, and Jazz artist Stephane Grappelli.

Differently from Lindsey, Máiréad’s moves on stage come more naturally, as she once stated that they have “always been a natural thing to do. I wouldn’t be able to do very choreographed moves in my solos. I only do what makes sense to me”.

Perhaps the videos that have drawn the most attention of the audience due to these energetic peformances are “Celtic dueling violins” and also a collaboration with the Harp Twins, where they play “Kid ar an Sliabh”, the first with more the 20 million views and the latter with more than 10 million views.

Emmy and Grammy-nominated, she draws attention of musicians and non-musicians from the whole world.

Not only Western performers have gained popularity in the world of violin dancing but performers from the Middle East as well.

The finest example being Hanine, the Lebanese violinist with more than hundreds of millions of views on YouTube, perhaps most famous for her video “Arabia, violin dance and show”.

She is the winner of prizes like the Best Lebanese Violinist. Perhaps the secret to her popularity, besides all her talent, is the fusion of Western and Eastern elements to her musical performances.

Having started to learn the violin at the age of 9, she was influenced by many artists throughout her life, as she states: “My influences come from different places. My music is a mixture between American singers and Arab musicians. I must say some of the most influential to me are Abboud Abed El Aal and the violinist Nazir Mawwas.”

She classifies her abilities as talent, and differently from Sterling and Nesbbit, Hanine says that the dance for her is a mix of talent and study.

And this is what we can see in her highly choreographed videos, where her skills are defined by the audience as dazzling.

These three women, Stirling, Nesbitt and Hanine, have set a new approach to the violin world.

And not only by dancing, but also by writing their own music, in which they can express themselves more deeply and draw attentions in the whole world, making their art seem at the same time so impressive, but natural and accurate to the eyes of the watchers.

Such abilities certainly were not easily acquired, but demanded years and years of training, giving them fame and worldwide recognition.

Lindsey Stirling - "Dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling."

Of the artists who perform on stage with the violin, performing rock and pop compositions, we have always known only the Englishwoman Vanessa May. But! Now there is a bright and interesting violinist Lindsey Stirling from California. Both women are united by the fact that they not only perform music on the same instrument, but also move expressively on stage. There is also a difference: May focuses on rock processing of classical works, while Stirling performs super-modern, modern electronic music. Stirling's music is contemporary alternative music that mixes everything; the sounds of her violin have everything from classical to hip-hop, and it is listened to as an organic synthesis of all styles at once. Music that comes from the heart. Urbanistic music of a modern inhabitant of a big city. And at the same time, Lindsey dances, jumps and jumps on stage.

It all started like this: Lindsey's dad loved symphonic music. He loved himself and tried to take his family with him to concerts. It was there that his five-year-old daughter really liked the violin. She wanted to learn how to play on it. A year later, Lindsey began to master the musical instrument through private lessons. And Lindsey's performances before the public began at the age of sixteen, when she joined a rock band.

Lindsey is now 34 years old. She constantly records albums and tours. She has a lot of fans and her own channel on You Tube, where she consistently uploads new videos and video clips. Lindsey is favored by the attention of the press and the musical community, many of her creations have been awarded.

My impressions. Lindsey Stirling's videos look great. But clips are clips, and what an artist really is, you need to look at "live" performances. To this end, I put on playback the first thing that came across on the Web - Lindsey's tour concert in Chile, as well as her performance at the Lollapalooza alternative music festival (Chicago). Surprised, but Lindsey Stirling really plays the violin at the same time and at the same time dances very intensively on stage, moves energetically, jumps and jumps - in general, she does what she wants, without knowing any boundaries! With all this, the violin does not really bind her, except that her hands are busy. And certainly not under the phonogram performs, but live! Another spectacle!

At the festival of alternative music.

All the time I find myself thinking that mixing violin playing and dancing is somehow artificial, on purpose. It seems that this is done for some commercial purposes, for example, to attract attention. But it seems that until you see the performance of Lindsey Stirling in front of a live audience. And here everything is immediately clear: just as Lindsey cannot live without a violin, it is also impossible for her to live without dancing! She clearly wants this and that, and all at once. Here is how she herself says:

It is very unnatural to dance while playing the violin. I had to train hard to learn this, and now it comes out by itself. I have to know the song perfectly before I start moving. Once I understand that I know music really well, I can enjoy dancing.

And it's really visible - that she gets pleasure from it. Of course, choreographers work with her, this is noticeable, but sometimes it is clear that Lindsay succumbs to her overwhelming emotions, and her body responds with unpredictable movements that no one taught her. Sometimes it's beautiful, sometimes it's somehow strange and incomprehensible, sometimes it can be comical, but it's clear that this is a natural emotional reaction. In her youth, Lindsay was torn - she wanted to learn to play the violin and learn to dance, for a long time she could not choose one thing, and now she simply combines both. Why not? And it turns out great and unusual.

Concert in Chile.

I want to dwell on Lindsey's external data. She is not tall, but the figure is slender and pleasant. Sometimes her movements on the stage remind me of an elf girl, and sometimes they remind me of a young horse like a pony; she moves her legs in the same way as people do, depicting, say, the Humpbacked Horse. Dancing on stage with a violin in her hands, she plays the instrument and at the same time performs dance moves to the beat of the music, sometimes as part of a backing group, sometimes on her own. But it doesn't feel like a product of the dance industry, where everything is rehearsed a hundred times, and where the super-coordinated movements of many dancers make me, for example, a depressing impression. I prefer not soulless synchronicity, but passion for my emotions from good music. And Lindsey Stirling shows at times such "unrehearsed" own feelings. And it captivates the viewer!

She has an expressive face. I can also talk about her face for a long time, but it’s better to watch her video “Beauty and the Beast” (Beauty and the Beast). Lindsey plays music from the soundtrack of the cartoon of the same name. But the clip has its own dramaturgy, even though Lindsey is dressed in the costume of Belle, a cartoon character. In the course of the action, the heroine moves to the music in the hall, where technical assistants collect and stack electrical cables after the performance. Along with the other girls in the show, the heroine of the video wants these guys from the technical group to give them attention as women, but the guys just get drunk and do not live up to the expectations of Belle and the dancers. With bright dances, girls still arouse interest in men, and everything ends festively and beautifully.

And I'm telling you about this video for one purpose: carefully watch Lindsey Stirling's face while watching the video - it seems to me that she is not just a girl with a violin, but deserves to act in a big movie.

Lindsay travels a lot, visited us in Moscow on tour and even performed in the show "Evening Urgant".

Just type in any search engine "Lindsey Stirling" (or Lindsey Stirling), and you will immediately see video clips and concerts with the American violinist. The young part of the population will probably like it more, because people “with more experience” will have to get used to how the electric violin sounds for some time. But Lindsey Stirling will not let you get bored, you will definitely like it. Lindsey Stirling - violinist, composer, dancer.

Enjoy watching or listening!

capitan Grant

Damn violin.

Ukrainian folk tale

In ancient times, even in the time of serfdom, there lived one peasant, his name was Ivan. The lord ordered him to go to the panshchina, but Ivan did not want to work for the lord. He quit his job and went aimlessly. So he once came to some hut, it stood uninhabited in a field not far from the village. Ivan lay down in this hut to spend the night and fell asleep soundly. About midnight the devils came to the hut, brought some musician with them and ordered him to play, and they themselves went to dance. The musician played and played, and then he got tired, he doesn’t want to play, and says:

- Let that one over there play for you that is resting on the stove! And that was Ivan. He had long since woken up and looked, neither dead nor alive, how the devils were dancing. Hearing that the musician was pointing at him, he answered:

- Yes, I don't know how to play, leave me alone!

But the devils have stuck to him, my God! They tell him:

- Don't be afraid! Even though you don’t know how to play, but take the bow and lead, the violin will play by itself.

Glad not happy, Ivan took the bow and the violin, began to lead, and the violin will play, so the devils began to dance Further.

Whether they danced there for a long time or not, the roosters on the roosts just started flapping their wings; the devils say to Ivan:

- It's enough for you, Ivan, to play! And for the fact that you cheered us up so much today, you have this hook on you. As soon as you wave this hook, no matter what bird flies in the air, it will instantly rush into your hands. And besides, take this violin for yourself.

As soon as the devils said it, and then the roosters began to sing - the devils were gone. Ivan spent the night and went on his way in the morning.

On the way he meets some kind of gentleman, but Ivan does not want to give way. Pan yells at him from the britzka, and Ivan says:

- Pan, don't you dare touch me, you don't know what strength I have.

And what is your strength?

- And look over there - an eagle is flying high, high, I will immediately shoot it down from there.

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