Musicality is often a difficult concept to define but it is extremely important if you want to be a great dancer. Anyone can learn a dance move or two but it’s how they interpret the music they are performing that makes the difference.
It can be tempting to say that musicality is something you are born with, like being a great sportsman or leader. Just as with individual moves and techniques, from ballet to the Samba, becoming a musical dancer can be learned, however.
Here are our top tips for getting there.
When you are planning a dance to a piece of music, the first thing you need to do is listen to it. That doesn’t just mean once or twice, it means over and over again, as much as possible. Don’t have it playing in the background while you get on with something else – sit down, put the music on and listen to it with focus.
2. Well-Known Music
If we know a piece of music well already, then we can tend to bring our own experience to it and that can affect the way we focus on it and how we react to it. Because you know the music, for example, you can often miss vital beats and nuances that could be vital to your performance.
It’s not easy but try to come to the music as freshly as possible and that, again, comes from listening intently.
3. Mix with Musical Dancers
It’s good to have a role model in all facets of life if you want to improve. It can be highly beneficial to dance with performers who have great musicality.
You might even absorb some of their karma and find that you begin to learn how to interpret the music more effectively. Watch how they dance and try to get into how they feel the music and bring this into your practice.
4. Listen to Your Internal Score and the Spaces Between
Try not to be too rigid when it comes to the counts – one person might perceive a 3-2 count but the next might think of it as a 5 count. That’s why it’s often beneficial to sing the score and become familiar with it that way.
The internal song you have is likely to roll over into your performance and improve your musicality. Don’t forget, you’ve also got to be in tune with the space between the counts – you ignore these at your peril.
5. Do Your Research
It’s often ignored but you should also do your research on the music, so you understand it better. Why was it written, who danced to it and who was the composer? These may seem like unnecessary extras, but they are vitally important.
6. Practice Silently
This may seem counter-intuitive, but it can help get in touch with your musicality and discover new ways of interpretation. When you are not constrained by music, you have more freedom and the chance to discover new things and ways of moving.
Finally, it’s important to be self-critical and to review your performance objectively but do remember that discovering musicality is a journey. And it should be fun.
With some pieces of music, it may come naturally, with others it will take more work and you might not ever get there, at least not yet. Just keep working – it is what professional dancers do every day.