Your golden triangle: connect your partner, your dance skills, musicality

“Preserve a connection and think about your partner first”

Dance connection

Your partner

 

You have a responsibility to be a good partner! You can be an outstanding solo dancer and still be a weak partner dancer. Sure, you look great by yourself, but if you are not careful that can blind you to the subtleties of the partner dance world. Your partner wants to look great WITH you, not look out of their league by comparison.

Your connection with your partner makes a huge difference. The connection is really about your dance communication skills. The reality is most of partner dancing relates to non-verbal skills (touch, leads, follow, watching each other.) Each of these areas has a connection component you want to explore and enhance.

Does your touch almost shout commands at your partner? There is a huge range of touch and how you do it makes a huge difference. Notice that some of your partners need a light touch. Get awareness and adjust your leading.
As another example, it is important to look at your partners’ face rather than looking at their shoes, or worse, acting like you are trying to find your friends off the floor or your next dance partner. No stalker stares, but no looking at your feet either.
I tell students if they are uncomfortable staring in the eyes of strangers, then, look at their forehead or ear, smile a little and that is close enough. Either your expressions enhance partners’ sense of connection and positive feedbacks, or it adds an element of doubt about the dance.

“Doubt in your partner is usually a connection killer”

A relax smile and some eye contact go a long way toward intantly improving your social dance connection. Some people get so caught up in “doing the right move”, they miss the fact that your happy facial expression and appropriate eye contact makes a dance much, much more pleasant for your partners. Both partners win.
Watch others the next time you are out of the social dancing. Notice the different facial expressions among partners, and see who looks like they are having fun while dancing. Decide to be one of those people, without acting as if every dance is time of your life.

“Do not try to control your partner”

You are not looking to directly control your partners, but rather become a positive influence in their dance experience. Most of us cannot control our dogs or cats: so do not expect to directly control others. Social dancing is not about controlling your partners but rather on building on their strenghts and finding ways to enhance their experience. Do it right and partners start looking for you on the dance floor. There is nothing better than when a strong partner seeks you out for another dance.

 

Your Dance Skills:

 

It really helps if ou make the effort to be a decent dancer by yourself. These areas break down to a few ideas and they are slightly different for leads and follows:

Leaders:
⦁ Your lead itself is rough, gentle, connected, clear.
⦁ Your dance “tone” you set with the follow. Are you fun? Encouraging? Interesting?
⦁ Your handling of the unexpected is smooth and positive? There are no errors in social dance, just unexpected opportunities to go in slightly different direction.
⦁ Your musical reflection and how your choices are shaped by the music.
⦁ Your solo movements skills and pattern vocabulary for each dance.
⦁ Your hability to think ahead the current moment, but make immediate changes based on responses from your follow or changing floor conditions.
⦁ Your allowing appropriate space for follows to express themselves, including to “take the lead” occasionnaly.

Followers:
⦁ your physical connection with the partner and how you respond to the leads signals. This is part of your connection skills.
⦁ Your ability to dance in the moment and not anticipating the lead.
⦁ Your looking like you are having some fun, even when the lead is far from perfect.
⦁ Your musicality connection.
⦁ Your styling and solo movement skills, plus experience with the standards movements for the current dance style.
⦁ Your understanding the difference between styling that fits the music and “over-styling” where styling is done or repeated with little or no relationship with the music.

Notice for both leads and follows that “solo movement vocabulary” or “sexy cool moves” are not usually the first thing for social dancing. If yours are strong that is great. However, they are not the most important thing for adult social situations.
This is not an excuse to be weak solo dancer long term, but social dancing priority is to your partnering skills, relating well with your partner and the music and then filling out your overall dancing.
In an ideal world you are perfectly tuned into your skills, smell great, smile and look at your partner, have amazing dance and movement skills and look like a million dollars too. But do not wait for that and be a decent social dancer. If you look great but you rarely look at your partner, your solo skills are often wasted in a social situation.

 

Musicality:

 

What is musicality? Dance musicality is how dancers hear, interpret, and dance to music. Dancers can demonstrate dance musicality in several ways – which sounds they choose to dance to, how they highlight the sounds, how they emote the mood of the song.

“Distinguish the different elements in music.”

The key in developing musicality lies in the music. Before anything else you need to learn to recognize the key elements and how each song progresses.

Pay attention to:

Pace; Is the pace constant? Is it fast, slow or medium?

Rhythm; How is the rhythm structured?

Instruments; You don’t need to be a musician to be a musical dancer but it helps you to understand more about musicality when you can distinguish the instruments. Listen to recognise the main instruments in the song (various drums, guitar, bass, piano, flute…). How does the use of the instruments vary?

Melody; How does the melody fluctuate in the song? What patterns in the melody you may find at different parts of the song?

Volume; Does the volume build or drop at any point?

Breaks; When do you hear breaks or pauses? Are there any discernable patterns or melody changes that lead up to or follow the break?

Mood; Is there a particular mood in the song and does this change?

Lyrics; Can you pick up the lyrics? If you don’t understand them, can you find out what they mean?
Once you start dancing, your relationship with music changes forever. Now, the music details matter. Sadly, many dancers simply use the music to keep time. Too many social dancers don’t even do that. Meaning their dance movements really could be set to any music or no music, at any tempo. They string together their moves without realizing their movements do not fit the feel, style or timing of the music.

“Connect emotionnally”

Actually, the emotion in your dance is amplified when it is matching with the music and it sets you apart.

As you learn more about the music-dance relationship (musicality), you will quickly realize so many are not paying attention to thhat aspect of the triangle. Moreover, elite dancers will tell you the moves are interesting. But it is the emotion behind the moves and the way they connect with their partners AND the music that makes the difference. it is one of the open secrets of elite dancers, and now you know.

Related article:

-Enjoy this top list of 25 sad bachata songs

-Enjoy this list of top 50 classics in bachata

Music is a great way to channel your emotions – that’s perhaps the one reason why music is so powerful to us! A song always a certain feel to it. And beyond the feel or mood of the notes there is the emotional connection you may have with that song. When you hear a song you love you can almost travel into the music and let it envelop you. Use your emotions, the mood of the song, its dynamics and let your feelings be reflected in your movements. Channel the energy of the song and pass it on. The most musical dancers are great in mirroring and interpreting the moods and emotions of the music in their dance.

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