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25 Elements To Becoming The Most Musical Dancer In The Room

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Did you know…

…there are at least 25 different elements involved in being a musical dancer?

NOTE: Don’t miss the ‘Instantly Reacting (not predicting)‘ section at the end of this post.  It will show you one of the most awesome and underused methods of being musical.   

Now, you probably don’t have the exact same level of skill and experience in each element of musicality.  

For example, you might do a great job of showing the overall feeling of a song while not being very clear with your rhythms (or vice versa).

So if you truly want to be a badass musical dancer…

…you’ll want to learn all 25 elements because the more ways you improve your musicality:

  • the more musical you will be.
  • the more others will love dancing with you.
  • and the more you will love dancing!

Ok, let’s get started…

This article is divided into 5 sections, each representing an aspect of musicality you might be trying to improve in your dancing.

We’ve got a finished video version of this post as well as a text version (in progress). 

View the text sections of this article by clicking on one of the links below to view the blog post ideas from that section:

MUSICIANS: I apologize ahead of time.  

Some of the words I use below will not be the terms used from the stand point of a musician.  Instead, they are meant to speak directly to dancers who may not have a musical background and so I use the words they commonly use (whether correct or not in musician terminology).  If you feel any of the words below should be changed, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.  [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Let’s start with the video version…

Watch this video to learn 22 of the elements of musicality and some easy ways to practice improving in them.  See the timestamps for each element below this video.

04:48 Different perspectives can improve your dancing in different ways
09:08 Energy Changes
11:13 Example Energy Change with hand
12:48 Volume Changes
15:33 Volume vs Energy Changes – How they relate and differ
16:47 Overall Feel of Different Songs – Emotion, Description, Story
21:46 Overall Feel within the Same Song – How it changes
23:00 How To Instantly Predict Music – so you can dance musically to stuff you’ve never heard
25:05 Creating A Story – pick a basic,  go outside of it & return, adjust it & return
29:40 Rhythm Timing
31:30 Benefits of focusing on one topic
32:57 Large Phrase Changes – A to B, chorus to solo, etc
36:56 Small or Subtle Phrase Changes – A to A, etc
38:19 Hitting the Horns, Pianos, & Other Surprises
39:09 Call & Response
40:56 Being Your Own Instrument
41:53 Straight (or Even) vs Swing (or Swung) Rhythms – when being your own instrument
43:51 Measure/Bar Repetition
44:42 Tension Builds & Drops – often the same as Measure/Bar Repetition
46:30 Choreography – Surprising Your Partner – or the crowd
48:17 Rhythm Texturing
50:04 Clarity of Rhythms
55:32 Contrasting Simple Versus Complex Rhythms
56:42 Contrast – in general
57:03 Breaking Down Specific Dances  – how well do different dancers dance in these categories… Are there trends based on styles?

 

And here is the text version…[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Rhythm

When people think of “rhythm” they usually have one set idea of what that means to them…

…but rhythm is a subject that you can explore in a lot of different ways to improve your ability to express the music.

Rhythm Timing

This is what many people think of when they think of rhythm.  It’s the specific moments in time when an instrument is played vs not played.  

For example:

Rhythm 1: -1-2-3&4-5-6-7&8

Rhythm 2: -1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8

Each character above (the numbers, “&”s, and “-“s) represents an equal length of time.  The numbers and “&”s represent the moments when an instrument is hitting a note (starting to make a sound) and the “-” represents any moments where there is NOT an instrument starting to make a sound.  (Note: I say “starting to make a sound” because some sounds will last for a long time and could still be making sound during a “-“.)

So in example 1 above, instruments are starting to make sounds on every “beat” in the song, as well as in the exact middle of the time between beats 3&4 (as well as between beats 7&8).

Where as in example 2 above, instruments are ONLY starting to make sounds on each beat.

These are different rhythms.

I talk a little bit more about this in the video above 29:40 – 32:57.

Clarity of Rhythm

Just like a drummer is probably never going to be a perfect metronome, hitting his drums at the exact correct moment every single time, a dancer is probably never going to have perfect rhythm. 

We can always improve (and it’s very important for competitions, as we will discuss below) and make our rhythms more and more clear and precise.

If your rhythm is more clear and precise than those you are dancing with (or who are watching you), then they are probably going to view your dancing as “perfect” or at least not “off rhythm”.  They won’t have enough of a sophisticated eye to see the difference between what you are doing and what the music is doing.  

This is why some dancers don’t do well in competitions even though the crowd might have thought they were awesome.  The crowd might not have the sophisticated eye to see how far off the rhythm the dancers are, whereas the judges often do.

I talk a little bit more about this in the video above from 50:04 – 55:32.

Rhythm Texturing

Rhythms might have the exact same timing, but that doesn’t mean they are the exact same rhythms.

For example, they can differ in texture.

Try this…

Clap your hands on every beat of the first 20 seconds of a song (1, 2, 3, 4…) and then stomp your feet on every beat of that same first 20 seconds.

Notice that your timing is the same but it still sounds different.  

Among other things, the sound dissipates at different rates depending on what is making the sound.

If you can show the difference in the texture of the song’s rhythms by changing the texture of your movements, you will jump light years ahead of the average dancer.

I talk a little bit more about this in the video above from 48:17 – 50:04.

Simple Rhythms

Simple rhythms are repetitive over short periods of time (usually repeating within 1 or 2 beats).  For example:

Rhythm A: 1 2 3 4

Rhythm B: 1 – 3 (the “-” is showing an empty space where no note is playing on the second beat)

Rhythm C: &a1&a2&a3&a4 (note: Rhythms C & F are “swing” rhythms)

Rhythm D: y&a1y&a2y&a3y&a4

Rhythm E:&1&2&3&4

Rhythm F: -a1-a2-a3-a4 (the “-” represents an equal length of time and is taking up the space where the “&” would be)

Songs usually have very simple rhythms combined with more complex rhythms.  As a dancer, it’s important to be able to hear and interpret simple rhythms (as well as complex rhythms).

Many times, you will even want to filter out some of the complex rhythms, to show your partner/audience the underlying simple rhythms.

Beginners Simple Rhythm Exercise

Step 1. Pick any one simple rhythm.  For example:

Rhythm 1: 1,2,3,4

Rhythm 2: 1,3

Rhythm 3: &a1&a2&a3&a4

Step 2. Pick any one simple move.  For example:

For Lindy Hop: Applejacks

For Tango: Walking

For Blues: Fishtails

For Fusion: Breathing

Step 3. Perform your ONE move, 3-5 times while only emphasizing your ONE rhythm.

Step 4. Perform the SAME move, 3-5 times with a different simple rhythm.

Complex Rhythms

Complex rhythms do not repeat as much over longer periods of time (and can be thought of as a combo of several different simple rhythms put back to back).  For example:

Rhythm A: 1-2-3&4-5&-&7&8 (again, the “-” represents an equal length of time and is taking up the space where the “&”s & the “6” would be)

Rhythm B: 1—3-4&5–&7-8

Rhythm C: –1–2-a3-a4–5–6&a7&a8 (this is a “swung” rhythm, and the “-” in this case represents an equal length of time where either the “&” or the “a” would normally be)

To avoid monotony in your dancing, try adding in (or copying from the music) a few complex rhythms within your movements…

BUT DON’T OVERDO IT!  (see Contrasting Simple & Complex Rhythms below for why)

When you practice, it’s ok to overdo it so that you get some real focused time actually practicing complex rhythms.  To practice, do the same “simple rhythm exercise” as shown above but instead of using simple rhythms for step 1, substitute any of your more complex rhythms.

 

Contrasting Simple & Complex Rhythms

If every rhythm you create is simple, your partner (or audience) will probably get bored.

If every rhythm you create is complex, it might start to look like you are just doing a lot of nonsensical movements strung together.  

There is no rule on how often is the “right” amount of contrast between simple and complex but if you are just starting out, try using simple rhythms for the majority of the song and use complex rhythms during the last 8 beats of each phrase that is 32 beats or longer.  

This is an extreme simplification but it can help you get a feel for it.

I talk a little bit more about this in the video above from 55:32 – 56:42.

 

If you like this post… you’ll love our Dance Trainings… check them out below.

Dancers…

Want step by step drills to improve in any of the 25 musicality topics above as well as connection concepts and more?

Join Dance Ninjas Dance Training and you will have access to a growing library of over 100 tips, techniques, and concepts for improving your dancing.  And if what you want to learn isn’t available, just ask for it and we will create it.

 

Teachers…

Want step by step drills to teach your students any of these 25 musicality topics above?

Join Teachers Learning Teacher Training and you will have access to a growing library of over 100 tips, techniques, and concepts for teaching dance.  And if what you want to learn isn’t available, just ask for it and we will create it.

 

— TEXT VERSION BELOW IN PROGRESS —

If you want to know when our text version of this topic is complete, join our mailing list and we will let you know as soon as it’s ready (plus) you will get loads of other great tips for your dancing!

Overall Feel

Just like great music evokes emotions, thoughts, and feelings in those who listen to it, so can our dancing evoke emotions, thoughts, and feelings in ourselves, our partners, and any watching us.

of Different Songs

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 16:47 – 21:46.

within the Same Song

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 21:46 – 23:00.

Energy Changes

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 9:08 – 12:48.

Volume Changes

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 12:48 – 15:33.

Volume vs Energy Changes

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 15:33 – 16:47.

If you want to know when our text version of this topic is complete, join our mailing list and we will let you know as soon as it’s ready (plus) you will get loads of other great tips for your dancing!

 

Choreography

Just like a good movie has an overall structure, some surprise moments, a storyline, and contrast, our dancing can also have each of these elements which will all improve our “choreography”, even if it’s done “on the fly” as we social dance.

Overall Structural Choices

Coming Soon.

Surprising Your Partner/Audience

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 46:30 – 48:17.

Creating A Story

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 25:05 – 29:40.

Contrast

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 56:42 – 57:03.

If you want to know when our text version of this topic is complete, join our mailing list and we will let you know as soon as it’s ready (plus) you will get loads of other great tips for your dancing!

Phrasing

Phrasing is a part of the structure of a song.  Just like the music, we also want our dancing to have structure.  This is what helps our dancing make sense instead of looking like a bunch of random movements strung together.

Large Phrase Changes

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 32:57 – 36:56.

Small (or subtle) Phrase Changes

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 36:56 – 38:19.

Measure/Bar Repetition

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 43:51 – 44:42.

Tension

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 44:42 – 46:30.

If you want to know when our text version of this topic is complete, join our mailing list and we will let you know as soon as it’s ready (plus) you will get loads of other great tips for your dancing!

 

Miscellaneous

Here are some more elements of musicality that don’t fit into any of the above categories.

Predicting Music

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 23:00 – 25:05.

Call & Response

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 39:09 – 40:56.

Hitting the Horns, Pianos, & Other Surprises

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 38:19 – 39:09.

Instantly Reacting (NOT predicting)

Coming Soon.

Being Your Own Instrument

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 40:56 – 43:51.

Breaking Down Specific Dances

Coming Soon. For now, watch the video above from 57:03 – 1:00:52.

If you want to know when our text version of this topic is complete, join our mailing list and we will let you know as soon as it’s ready (plus) you will get loads of other great tips for your dancing!

 

If you like this post… you’ll love our Dance Trainings… check them out below. 

Want more tips to improve your musicality?

or…

Want Extreme Practice Drills that literally force you to improve your musicality at a much faster pace just by doing them for 7-10 minutes?

…then…

Join Dance Ninjas Dance Training and start using the 100+ techniques, tips and concepts to improve your dancing.  

Dancers…

Want step by step drills to improve in any of the 25 musicality topics above as well as connection concepts and more?

Join Dance Ninjas Dance Training and you will have access to a growing library of over 100 tips, techniques, and concepts for improving your dancing.  And if what you want to learn isn’t available, just ask for it and we will create it.

 

Teachers…

Want step by step drills to teach your students any of these 25 musicality topics above?

Join Teachers Learning Teacher Training and you will have access to a growing library of over 100 tips, techniques, and concepts for teaching dance.  And if what you want to learn isn’t available, just ask for it and we will create it.

What elements of musicality would you add to this list?  Reply in the comments below.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]— TEXT FOR — INFOGRAPHIC COMING SOON —

Ok, let’s get started…

This article is divided into 5 sections, each representing an aspect of musicality you might be trying to improve in your dancing.

We’ve got an infographic version of this post as well as a text version.  You can download a PDF version of the infographic here.

View the text sections of this article by clicking on one of the links below to view the blog post ideas from that section:

Let’s start with the infographic… (Click the image to enlarge or download the PDF version)

INSERT GRAPHIC HERE

And here is the text version, including examples…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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