For those of you thinking about taking a workshop or just trying to improve on your own.
Of the few musicality classes I’ve taken, there is a constant. They start the class off with a piece of music that you would be very unlikely to know. It’s beat heavy, and they tell you to dance to it, and your natural inclination is to dance to the beat cos it’s beat heavy.
Then they tell you off for doing that.
It is a setup, pure and simple, but it is done with love so don’t go getting snarky about it.
The aim is to hit hard to shake you out of your typical pattern, and get you to hear all the music that is going on; they will play the same piece a few times. Where at first, all you noticed was the beat, after the sixth or seventh time you’re pretty clued up on all the intricate overlaying tunes within tunes.
And like a switch, you are suddenly listening differently. The beat fades away as you focus on other parts of the track. Then you can use that new understanding to change your style of dancing. If all you dance to is the beat, then you are missing out, but this is a skill set you can learn.
What do you need for great musicality?
1) A Sense of Timing.
Being able to hear the beat that you’re no longer going to listen to.
If you have natural rhythm, this seems far too easy.
For those of you who don’t, then this is a massive hurdle. The reason you need it is so you know how long you have to play with as well as knowing when the changes in the music are coming.
Songs have a structure, four beats for this, eight beats for that, that kind of thing, and if you cannot hear any of that structure, then you are at a definite disadvantage.
- If the track goes silent in a dramatic pause would you be able to guess when it will start up again?
- If a dramatic crescendo is building, do you know how long you have to get ready?
Those with timing do, because a part of them is going, one and two and three and NOW.
Those without are having to wait for the music to tell them, and when it does, they have already missed the moment.
This is something you can and will learn, but for some it takes longer to get there than others.
You need variation in your dancing. A newbie with three moves is not going to be the greatest at dealing with different styles of music regardless of how awesome they are. You need to be able to respond to the sound you can hear with an equal movement.
However, trawling out a thousand moves isn’t the point, you have use the moves to emphasise what is happening within the tune.
So, consider what you have in your tool box. You don’t need millions as a lot of moves can be altered to a point. But you need to figure out what you can use for specific moments.
- Big, powerful, dramatic chord = Drop.
- Slow, wistful vocals = lazy twirls
ETC, you get the point, you are using what you have to different hit points throughout the dance like a ninja marksman.
3) Acting ability.
Drama darling, think drama. Even with perfect timing and the right moves, if you, yourself, aren’t actively trying to match the music then it still falls a bit flat.
The track being played is a love ballad, slow and soulful, the singer’s voice is crying out in agony as their loved one is leaving forever, it’s a fantastic piece that pulls on the heart strings. And there you are with a chirpy grin on your face, with eyebrows bouncing up and down like a giddy dog cos you are having so much fun.
You gaze across to your dance partner who is looking back. Quick quiz.
Are they thinking;
Wow, we have a real connection here, the two of us are perfectly in tune with each other and the music.
They say that the Clothes maketh the Man, I’m not sure what the furry hot pants I’m wearing says about me, but that’s for another time. What is important is how you portray yourself when you dance and if it is matching what you are hearing.
Musicality is a package deal, take any of the components out and it doesn’t quite come together. Get them all right and your dancing will improve dramatically.
Think you’re ready to learn the all the steps?
If you think I have left anything out or have some more ideas to make us all better, then please leave your message in the comments.
If you want to check out the web site then please click here The Jivey Blues Blog
If you want to check out the Facebook page where there are Jive and Bluesy dance clips then please click here Zorro the Dancer