Bachata Musicality For Dancers

Hello my name is Waldo Solano, im been taking dance lessons sins I was 6 year old, this blog is just me trying to download al the information the I have in my head to try to help my fellows dancers to understand dance and music.
The following blog was inspired after taking a 3 days musicality workshop with Pierre Henry...

So now musicality is a really big subject and we could spend long time talking about it. So what I'm trying to do is to put it into sort of chunks of information that make sense in a sort of logical order that people with no experience of music or musicality can understand.

So the first thing we just need to go over is a little bit of music theory. But music theory that is relevant to dancing and dancers.

So now the first thing that I like to do is actually draw a distinction about something that we call musical interpretation, and musicality, because although they are very closely linked in my head, they're not exactly the same thing.

With musical interpretation, that is purely about your understanding of the music and your interpretation, based on what you know what you like, how you know how to move.

Now in terms of musicality is coming from a slightly different place. So yes, you're interpreting the music, but it's coming from a place of understanding.

The way I like to explain it is like if you're watching, a Spanish Telenovela on the TV, you might be able to understand what's going on if you see a woman shouting to a man and you can see she's obviously really angry at him for something, and you know, that there's something going on there but you don't know why. Whereas if you speak Spanish, and then you can explain to someone why she's angry at him.

So is a different level of understanding. It's about being able to get the general gist of what's going on, which is musical interpretation, and being able to actually explain what's going on through your body movement in a way that someone else can can understand it. And that's the difference between musical interpretation and musicality.

Now, I have to say that not everyone will agree with that, and that's fine. If you have your own definition of interpretation, that's fine. But this is just explaining how I understand this topic. So hopefully things will make sense as we move on.

The first thing that we need to understand is that musicality is it's not some mysterious concepts. A lot of people get put off by the concept of musicality because they think is too difficult to learn. And there's just too many things too much to going on and that they'll never grasp it.

But musicality is actually quite simple to understand. But the problem is it takes a lot of practice to master. So all the stuff that I'm going to tell you it will be explaining what musicality is, but that doesn't mean that at the end of these blog you will have musicality.

You're going to have to take these concepts and apply them to the way that you listen to music, because musicality is primarily a skill about how you listen to the music.

So we will start break it down concepts that make it easier for you to understand those concepts and then apply them in your own time, because the people that have musicality tend to be people who are always listening to music, even when they're standing there making a cup of coffee in the morning, if they've got the music on in the background, and they're actively listening to that song. In their head. They're breaking down the basics, the vocals, the melody, without even thinking about it, and they're making little movements with their bodies, they're making little sounds with their mouths, and all this is going on without them even having to think about it. Because their brain is actually now working in a different sort of way, when it listens to music.

Whereas a lot of people the listen to music, but it's more in a passive way. If someone has music on in the background, it's background noise to whatever they're doing.

So there's the two different ways of listening to music, active and passive. And the propose of this blog is to help you to learn how to listen music in a more active way.

So when it comes to teaching musicality I found that the concepts are the very similar whether you're teaching an instrument or whether you're teaching someone how to dance.

What it comes down to is four basic principles:

The first principle is what we call timing.

Timing is your most fundamental relationship with the music. If you do not have timing, you are not dancing. If you have music going on over here and you are moving over here and those two things are not related you are not dancing.

Timing is the most fundamental relationship between your movement and the music.

Timing is simply the the ability to coordinate your movements, in this case as a dancer, is to coordinate your movements with specific beats within the music or specific accents within the within the music. So if I were to play a song, and I asked you to clap on the first beat hopefully you'll be able to do that.


Okay, so show me, just want you to clap on the first beat.

So, timing is simply that ability to coordinate your movements with the music. If I told you to clap on one, you'd be able to clap on the first beat. If I told you to clap on three, you'd be able to clap on the third beat.

For example talking about timing in salsa if you can dance on ON1 or dancing on ON2, that simply means that we're coordinating our break step, this is the way we change direction with a specific beats in the music.

When we're dancing ON1, we changed direction on the first beat. When we're dancing ON2 we changed direction on the second beat, timing is simply that ability to synchronize movement with sound.

The second concept that we need to understand is rhythm.

Rhythm is the most complex one of these four concepts that we're going to talk about, because there are many different ways of thinking about rhythm.

Rhythm is basically a repetitive sequence of accents within the music.

Is a rhythm that we call the clave, and it's the foundation rhythm in salsa music.

Clave is five accents, which repeat in a predictable manner and we call that a rhythm.

There's tons of different rhythms that you can use you can use, like salsa conga rhythm, Bongos and much more.

Now, all of these different rhythms play a part in defining the genres of music that we're listening to, and that's something that we'll be going over latter on.

But when we talk about rhythm for dancers is not just the ability to hear rhythms is the ability to identify different rhythms within several instruments playing at the same time and be able to pick out a specific instrument, lets say the clave, or the conga, or the piano or the bass and Identify the rhythm that it's playing, and recreate those rhythms with our bodies movements.

Although you might not actually be able to hear the deferents rhythms, you might not be able to pick it out amongst all the other rhythms that are going on in the music.

Is important being able to identify specific rhythms, because if you can't hear the rhythm, then you won't be able to recreate that rhythm, is that simple.

Now, as far as dancing is concerned, we also create rhythms with our bodies, as a social dancers is even more important for us, because as social dancers, the rhythms that we create, are actually created primarily in our footwork when it comes to Latin dances.

When you think of Latin dances, such as salsa, cumbia, cha cha cha, Merengue, bolero, bachata. All of these dance styles have a specific basic step.

If I were to ask you what's the basic step for salsa On1, you'd be able to show me, if I asked you what is the basic step of son cubano you'd be able to show me.

These basic steps are not just a way of traveling around the floor. These basic steps are actually a physical manifestation of a rhythm.

So when I'm dancing lets say salsa on On1,

To be Continue...
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