Cole used many ethnic and folk styles of dance (like East Indian, flamenco, and the lindy) as a source for movements. His style was derived from dance movements performed for centuries by common people, but theatricalised for use on the stage. This is why, when pressed for a definition of his movement, Cole termed it "urban folk dance."
When trying to describe Cole's movement, it is best to identify certain predominate characteristics. A partial list would include dancing in plie; with isolated body movements; with compressed or stored energy; and with a keen sense of manipulating rhythm, spatial levels, and attack. The first item of dancing in plie is a key to the Cole style. Cole made great use of a wide and low second position, as well as a parallel fourth position with both knees bent and the back knee close to the floor. This wide stance dropped the dancer's centre of gravity, and allowed the dancer to extend movement horizontally across the floor. This contrasted with the ballet dancer's vertical orientation. By using an ultra smooth transition of weight from foot to foot, a slinky, sensual feel was given by him and his dancers. Cole's movement is often called cat-like, or animalistic.
But while the weight centre was dropped low to the floor, the torso remained very tall and erect. Cole's spine was lengthened and regal, giving a polished look. Even though his body was in plie, working with gravity, his torso at the same time defied gravity. This contradiction was magnified by his supple arms movements. Cole initiated arm movement from the center of the back, often involving the shoulder. This shoulder involvement in arm movement is characteristic of the way cats walk, adding to his reputation of having cat-like movement.
Isolation in body movement was another key to Cole's style. He made great use of side and forward thrust of the hips and shoulders, and even the head. Much of his isolations came from his background in...