Musicality 1.2 – Dance Body in Quick Songs

In this second text on musicality, we will try to bring tips for dancing with a dance body suitable for faster music.

In order to have a shorter text, I will not give the introductory explanations about what is musicality and what is dance body. In case you have not read the text: Musicality 1.1 – Dance Body in Slow Songs read because these information are contained there, and are fundamental to understand the content of this text.

I remind you here that in this article you will find tips directed only to the body of dance, which is just one of the many parts of the study of musicality.

FAST SONGS

Fast music demands great vitality, disposition and haughtiness. The attempt to express the feelings of euphoria, electricity, animation, very present in music with the accelerated pace, usually leads us to a study that fits perfectly with the study of technical efficiency and agility.

For several opportunities when giving dance body classes in fast music I was frustrated to think that I had deviated from the central theme of the class to explain about efficiency. Until one day I realized that this pattern was not a coincidence and that these two studies are totally interlinked.

Pause

In fast music, breaks are short but still exist, and play a fundamental role in preparing the next moves.

The faster songs tend to have less sinuous melodies, that is, they tend to be more direct, like a train that never stops. Therefore, it is interesting to try to make sure that the movements at the moment of pause do not show a drop of energy or engagement with the dance. Leaders should already be directed quickly to the most suitable location for the next lead. Followers should already make the pause in a controlled imbalance, tilting the body towards the next movement to help combat the inertia of the previous movement and already having better conditions to generate enough energy for the next movement.

I understand that it is not so simple to understand certain parts of the text. Therefore, look for a qualified dance professional to clarify your doubts. Often information seems to be conflicting and needs to mature in order to make sense, without one thing excluding the other.

There are also fast songs that have constant breaks, several ballroom dances dance songs with strong Hip Hop influence. In these songs there are clear and constant cuts, forcing the dancers to break the fluency of each movement, without breaking, however, the fluency of the dance as a whole. To flow in these songs where the pause is present, but the music asks for no movement, it is necessary to compress the function of the pause within the scheduling period. In other words, what was done in the pause now needs to be done a little before and a little after. And it is also necessary to return from these pauses with enough energy.

Weight Transfer

Although the first impression is that, in fast music, weight transfers are always abrupt, the gradation of the transference is still a very important point in terms of control, and without control there is no musicality. Even if in a fast way it is interesting to put your foot on the ground without weight and then do the weight transfer.

There is, however, a very important detail. Transfers are rarely done completely. That is the idea and always have the center of gravity between the two feet and try as much as possible not to transfer the CG to the top of the foot. If the transfer is complete, the balance the body will make, until it can move in the desired direction, will take a long time making the person slower than the music.

In very fast songs we are in constant unbalance, however, it is a controlled unbalance.

Posture

A lot of confusion is made in this regard. The posture is fundamental to express the dance body well in fast music. A trunk well aligned with the head raised with dynamic and active shoulders (That’s right, the shoulders don’t always need to be fitted, and the scapulas don’t always need to be under tension). A good posture allows the body to move through the space as a single block, increasing the efficiency of displacements and turns.

But a very common mistake is to think that a good posture counts on stretched knees. Many people associate a high posture to the fact that the knees are stretched, especially those who have the aesthetic influence of more classical dances like ballet for instance. The slightly bent knees are fundamental for the stability, control and traction that the leg generates with the floor. Stretched legs make agile mobility impossible because it is as if we were walking on a wooden leg. With stretched legs we lose the ability to choose the exact time and location where the foot will touch the ground and the complete weight transfer process described above happens much more frequently.

Energy Dynamics

To optimize the energetic dynamics the most important factor is to observe the amplitude of the movements, both the isolated movements of the body and the size of the foot steps and, consequently, the displacements of the dance.

Note that very short amplitudes allow you to finish the movements a long time in advance or they require much less effort. For those who see from the outside it seems that the dancers are less dynamic and less agile, because in case you finish the movements in advance, there is a wait to start the next movement. In case of using less energy the movements use less power and less speed.

When we use very large amplitudes the dynamics and agility of the dance are also lost. In this case we delay the movements or by exhaustion. When we use very large movements the velocities are very high as well as the inertia of the bodies becomes more difficult to defeat in order to change direction. The very fast music danced at high speed with wide movements almost always demand an anaerobic energy from our body, in simplified words it is an energetic demand that our body cannot sustain for a long time unless we have an unusual aerobic capacity, found in some rare high performance athletes.

Make no mistake, the answer is not to dance 100% of the music in an average range either. Normally the answers are in the balance between the parts. a good division is to dance 50% of the music with median movements 25% of the music with wide movements, are the moments that we call explosion and the remaining 25% of the music we use the short movements to be able to facilitate transitions in moments of small failures and also to recover a little of the breath in moments in which the music is calmer. This proportion is just a vague idea, because we are dealing with musicality, so the changes in the mood, the vibe of the music will more appropriately dictate the calm, regular and agitated moments.

Footwork Counting

Several dances have different counts for marking the movements. The university forró, for example, has movements of 3, 5 and 7 steps in its basic structure. The West Coast Swing and the Lindy Hop, in turn, have counts of 6 times or 8 times. Tango and Samba often vary the movements in time and in offset.

For all these cases it is interesting to think of a good balance between the markings of the movements, the steps with more steps in the forró seem to be faster, but several of these movements in sequence leave the dance slow, reduce the frequency of changes in direction. In Lindy and West the 6-counts movements are more dynamic as the number of triple steps increases, but the musical phrases have 32 strokes. Doing the math, 32 does not divide by 6 so when we do only 6-step moves we will lose several sentence changes.

Another important observation for these variations is the lack of acceleration or braking. When we are at a constant speed, even if it is a high speed we get used to that state. So small breaks and braking are important so that the moments of high speed are magnified by the acceleration until reaching them.

Arms

The arms are super important structures in musicality. They are the structures that can reach the world more easily. In non-verbal communication they are the parts of the body that are used to draw attention to you.

Try to remember that the arms are separated from the legs, that is, they have no counting function, so the pause does not exist for them. The arms move continuously but their movements have a beginning, a middle and an end.

The arms are also the structure that reach the highest speeds, so they will have a great facility to deliver a musicality for fast music by simply performing the movements properly. The abrupt movements with the arms will not allow an adequate reaction in time by the conductor. Moving your arm at the highest speed you can is not the answer to agility or proper perception of fast music. Understand, therefore, that good arm communication occurs lightly and quickly when movements tend to be more continuous. The abrupt movements of the arms usually require one person to carry the other, and this is a possible scenario, but it is not the ideal scenario.

Face

Remember that we are in a universe of non-verbal communication. The facial expression you do, completely changes the perception of musicality. Dancing very fast music demands a lot of our concentration, so we tend to frown. It so happens that fast music tends to be more cheerful and livelier, that is, it doesn’t match with a sawed-off semblant.

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