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A question of musicality…

posted in: Music, Teaching, technique | 1

On Tribe, a fellow dancer shared a wonderful link to spark a discussion about how you learn and/or teach musicality in bellydance.   It ties into yet another Tribe discussion on the Tribal Bellydance tribe where a fellow member asked about whether you “count” or “feel” the music, which this article also addresses.  The article is about salsa, but the concepts apply, and offers good food for thought, so I thought I would share!

Here is a snippet:

“To the many who try to downplay the use of counting music, consider for a moment our beloved salsa music that we yearn to dance to. Those musicians count their music. In the words of “The Unlikely Salsero” Don Baarns, “Music ain’t random.” It has structure. No matter how dynamic or unconventional a song is, it has structure. The count is the structure of this music. A band has to count its music the same so that each member can be on the same page, or else musical chaos ensues. When each band member is playing his or her role and instrument, doing something different from one another that still somehow gels together into the beautiful sounds we hear, the count is the common ground that they all return to. I dare anyone to try to convince a legitimate musician or band not to count because it’s not important. The members of the band cannot simply “feel” the music. Each band member thinks differently and has a different personality, and therefore will not feel or interpret the music the same as the next. If each member only relied on his or her “feeling”, the song would be an un-danceable mess. This is no different for us in this partner dance we call salsa. If you are dancing with another person, you are dealing with another mind, another personality that will not feel the music the same way that you do, not to mention the fact that person is of the opposite gender (but that’s another story). The count is there so that you both will be able to be on the same page, the same way that the members of a band would. If the musicians that produce the music we dance to feel that counting is important, why shouldn’t we?”

DanceNerdsUnite also has a post about musicality that I really enjoyed reading.


“Musical dancers, on the other hand, never disregard the music to fit in more tricks. “You can see the effort in a nonmusical dancer—they are often step-driven,” says NYC ballet teacher Deborah Wingert. “Musical dancers don’t just turn until they stop. They turn until they have to move on to the next point in the music. Musical dancers never get so caught up in steps that they ignore the music.””

Shay
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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

Shay
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One Response

  1. DJ Selchie
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    Thanks so much for posting this! I’ve always been “an instinctual dancer,” but thanks to a bit of a background in voice & theatre, I’m not wholly unfamiliar w/musical structure, either. (As when you take most theatre & intro. dance classes, you at least get the basics of the 8 count system, a slight taste for choreography, blocking, etc.) But I’ve never had to explain these 2 worlds in detail before- separately or in tandem, so I was really grateful to’ve found your blog. 🙂

    Melding the two worlds of counting and “feeling” has never been difficult for me (to a point- I’m certainly no choreo whiz), but choreographing my OWN pieces is a whole new ball of wax, and trying both “feeling” and counting in a balanced, intelligent way is also something completely foreign. As a sort of unofficial teacher in a university bellydance group, I’m suddenly in the position of needing to teach musicality to a class of -brand new- dancers, so I wanted to do a little research and prepare for this gift that I have the chance to relay- and get my stuff straight ahead of time. 🙂 Now I can’t wait to sink my teeth into these, to share them with my group, and to see what THEY make of all of this, too. 🙂

    Thank you so much for your wise words, and for sharing these awesome & informative links!

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