Thursday, January 1, 2015

Musiciality Examples: Two Different Types

I'm always on the lookout for great musicality examples. People share so many with me and I always love it.

These two videos are great examples, but totally different in terms of context. Both are excellent musicality showcases, where the dancers find movements which "reflect" the music. The more you watch the more you'll find interesting movements "matching" the sounds/music.

They break down into two general categories: Choreographed shows and social dancing. Each has unique challenges.

Choreographed Shows

I hold the choreographed dances to much higher standards than social dances. The dancers listen to the music hundreds of times, rehearse and tune movements over and over until they get it right. Often they've been dancing many years before they started this specific rehearsal. They get the chance to video themselves, work with coaches, and try different movements until they achieve the look and feel they want.

Often time the performers are so rehearsed, they can perform the complete show with or without music from beginning to end. The music provides the framework for the dance, but once that's established, they rehearse enough times they could usually do it with a clicking clock. The dance would make less sense, but it could still be impressive as a movement exercise.

Funny thing is with all those advantages, many rehearsed dances aren't well connected to the music. They may be amazing movement exercises, but musicality magic happens when the music and dance connect. Many performances don't connect for reasons I'll leave for another day.

Check out this excellent choreographed show. I love the musicality of it.

Social Dances
Social dancing is a totally different challenge. Some performers are great social dancers, many are not so great. At the higher end they are different animals and most dancers are much stronger in one situation or the other. A few can cross over.

The dancers don't plan the details in advance, and they have to make hundreds of adjustments in real time based on their partner and the music.

Sometimes they miss some things early in the song, then reflect them later in the song as the phrases repeat. They hear the structure and modify their dance on the fly. Just as often, they have heard the song many times before, but they are still adapting to their partner and other conditions in real time.

The stronger dancers hear the feel, phrasing, structure, and hit many of the breaks and the endings, even though they may not know the song perfectly. They also tend to recover gracefully when something doesn't go as expected. It's like a conversation and someone stumbles over one word, the two just keep on going and pretend nothing happened.

Even if they heard the song before, they may have never danced it with that particular partner, so there are infinite number of unknown variables in social dancing. In this example a live band adds another changing element. The band changes the feel and tempo a little after the 1 minute mark. I think they just start the next song without a break, and the dancers adapt as if that is normal. (Ignore the other couple, something wrong with the camera guy for 20 seconds...)

In this example, both dancers are clearly very strong with body movement and listening skills. They are calm when the music is calm. They use contrast to create emotion. They hit breaks, pause, play and work in and around the music. They adapt to each other and the music.

The live band increases the complexity level and they handle it gracefully. They actually make it all look easy which is one of the signs of extremely experienced dancers. A hard to beat example of excellence in social dancing.

You could see this dance twenty times and still find interesting places where they put the music and movements together.

Both of these examples show off different sides of dance musicality. Both are among my favorite videos to watch musicality in action.

It's a very deep subject, and I look forward to your thoughts via the comment box below.

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"Musically Defined" Project

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  1. Just a quick thought - have you got a playlist on Youtube of other examples of musicality?

    Would be very interesting to watch and compare and contrast videos showing the best of musicality in different dance styles too!
    To see how things are similar, and different due to the music and the dance style

    1. Tom:

      Yes and no, I have a private folder called "videos for blog" where I archive things I think may work for an article. But it's not just musicality because it may be related to learning or other aspects of dance.

      I started one on the channel, but haven't kept it up. I have plenty of raw materials, just have to get it organized.

      I will see what I can put together. Great suggestion!


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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero