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Belanger dances with an undemonstrative panache that draws one's attention as if by seeking to deflect it; through finesse and understatement, he manages to seem at once intensely present and curiously detached.

This is a question in my GRE text book. There are 2 blanks, and you can choose the words given to best fit the blanks. I have put the correct words in the sentence, in italic.

I think I do not understand the phrase '...by seeking to deflect it'.

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The reason the two choices (undemonstrative panache and deflect) go together is that undemonstrative emphasizes that the dancer isn't attempting to show off his talent.

Rather than draw in the audience's attention with dance moves that emphasize the skill they necessitate - that is, moves that make their technical difficulty visible to the audience - he dances subtly and smoothly, so that the audience perceives his performance to be effortless. (In fact, this demands even more effort - imagine trying to complete a difficult move, all the while revealing no physical or mental exertion.)

In this way, he is deflecting (pushing away) the type of attention his ability is capable of garnering. He's so good he could demand the audience's complete attention, but chooses instead to let it linger on the dance itself.

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If it means anything at all, it means that Belanger’s skill appears to be effortless. He deflects the audience's attention away from his technical ability and in so doing allows them to enjoy his peformance as a whole. This is the sort of prose that some writers indulge in when they don’t have very much of substance to say.

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    Agreed, especially on that last point..."undemonstrative panache" is especially egregious, in my opinion.
    – JeffSahol
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 13:39
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    +1 just for the gripe. I can see where tough reading can be useful for the GRE. However the author could really do with taking a style pointer or two from this dancer he claims to admire so much.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 16:26

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