Developing Musicality

Well I think that developing musicality will come only after one is comfortable with dancing through the patterns such that they are no longer counting every step in their head...and this can different amounts of time for everyone. Once the counting ceases then the real listening comes in. This allows you to play with the song you are dancing to. And this is a skill that takes a long time to develop...I don't think it ever ceases. now that you are playing with the music you have to learn how to do so within your means...meaning you must still follow your partner's lead, not taking more time than is given. I think this takes a lot of practice as well.

This is only my opinion based on my own experience. Sorry about the rambling :oops:


Well-Known Member
[I ramble too on many an occassion. :oops: Drives people crazy as I detour and veer back to the topic at hand.]

We don't think about how to walk, how to tie a shoelace, how to eat...these all seem natural, instinctual...

For me there are four aspects, with the first two coming before the second two...

1. One needs to be comfortable with the pattern [as SwinginBoo said] in order to develop muscle memory. Often done to slower then normal dance music.

2. One also needs to be familiar with the music. Just listening to the music helps.

3. The music and pattern go together.

4. The lead/follow that is the heart of the musicality develops.

For latin it has been number 2. first as I grew up listening to a lot of African music on the radio. For swing it has been number 1. first.
I am one of those advocates that teaching numbers keeps a person from developing an understanding of the music beyond numbers, for the fore-mentioned reasons. However, I don't neglect that what is good for me isn't necessarily good for you.

To develop musicality we must know the music. I've seen countless top salseros be baffled when I speak to them about what is going on in the music. Yet, they know more patterns and are way better dancers than I am. However, they never developed that "intimacy" with the music. They think that latin music is no more than numbers and percussion to which dance patterns are applied to. They believe that because a move follows the tempo the music gives that they are one with the music, yet didn't notice that the sax came in a split second late, or that the mic in the 2 trumpet isn't working. I can't blame them for to them that is what being one with the music is, doing patterns according to 4 beats in a bar, ultimately 8 beats to complete a basic.

If you want to develop musicallity, then listen to the music, ask yourself what emotions it arises in you, where the instruments meet, why, how, who is doing what, who do they follow, and so on. Ever wonder why a passionate dancer can be spotted in a field of skilled dancers? That is because as one with the music as the skilled dancers seem, the passionate dancer is at a completely different level.

If the case was that we must know a pattern first to develop musicallity then those people who are very musically developed and can't dance wouldn't be so.

Developing musicallity and the application of a given dance to the music isn't the same.

Dance Ads