Strippers…The Misunderstood Ballerinas
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The other night, at the tail end of the Beginner Intensive, I was engaged in some post lesson Q+A with one of the leaders. It came up that when I am dancing I do not think about what pattern I am doing or even what is coming up. Instead I listen to the music and let the dance happen. When I said this the young man reached out, grabbed my arm, and gave me a little shake “You listen to the song while you are dancing?” he forced out with the most baffled and confused look on his face. Of course my answer was yes and I went on to explain.
Music is a mathematically accurate art form comprised of different instruments, melodies, harmonies, emotions, and feelings. Dancing is the exact mathematical and artistic compliment to music. If two different types of music are played back to back like “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC and Leo Sawyer’s “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”. One is hard hitting, fast, with a lusty overtone while the other is a happy-go-lucky, melodic, and a slower groove. If you had to tell the story of each song, from inside a sound proof room, using only your Sugar Push, would both songs “look” the same?
All too often we get lost in the search for the next big pattern like its the be all and end all. Pattern shopping is like having a drug habit. No matter how many you have you will never feel like you have enough. Knowing more patterns does not make you a better dancer any more than doing more drugs makes you a better person. What makes you a better dancer is understanding the relationship between the song and your dance. When Mario Robau does his Musicality Workshops he spends most of his time working out the math end. I find it difficult to break music down mathematically while I am dancing and so I came up with an easier way.
On May 4th, at the Advanced West Coast Swing Intensive, we are going to explore this relationship in depth. At the end you will have the tools to handle things like breaks, accents in the music, and you will be able to take the patterns that you already know and dress them up so they can help you tell each song’s story.