What is musicality in dance?

A song is made up of several components. There are vocals, back-up vocals, basses, snares, keyboards, hi hats, drums, annoying DJ foghorn effects… the list is endless!

And when you really listen to a song, you can follow many “sound ingredients,” making the experience as simple or dynamic as you want.

(See Related Article: The Ultimate Guide To Musicality For Beginner Dancers)

The same goes for choreography. You’re highlighting one or few sounds at a time, in a sense becoming that instrument with your body. The challenge is picking and choosing which to dance to.

So when it comes to slower songs, dancing slowly to the most obvious melody might be tempting, but in this article, we’re going to explore a more dynamic interpretation- with the help of STEEZY Studio instructor, Paul Ross.

Compound Choreography With Multiple Moves

Some moves can be explained easily, like “touch your hand to your chest,” and some moves take a bit more illustration/demonstration.

Usually the choreographer will say something along the lines of “Okay, the feet are gonna go..” and after drilling a few times, “okay, let’s add the arms now” and then throw in a “by the way, there’s a focus change.” 

There are a lot of different parts of movement taking place to make up that one “move.”

When it comes to dancing “quickly,” you don’t necessarily have to hit or switch in pictures every eighth of a count. Musicality in dance doesn’t depend on the speed, but the timing and density.

If a single move is “dense” enough to embody the sound you’re hitting, that’ll embody the sound efficiently enough.

(See Related Article: 3 Concepts To Help You Become A Better Choreographer)

In Paul’s STEEZY Studio class, there are several moves that are made up of a lot of components. But those components don’t require too much power.

The trick is to deliver the move consciously.

“Choreography might be fast at times, but just try to remember to relax when executing the movement.

Sometimes if you put too much strength into a piece that requires quick movement, it could come out looking stiff and actually makes it a little more difficult to move if you are flexing the entire time trying to control.

Start slow, feel out what muscles are necessary in order to execute the movement. Think simple.”

— Paul

Be Prepared To Dance To Music That’s Not Perfectly Syncopated

“When taking class, try starting with the rhythm of a song and work your way up. Knowing the rhythm will make it easier to plug in moves that are placed in tricky spots in the timing of a song.”

— Paul

Although there is most likely a syncopated rhythm to the song, if you want to dance more dynamically, you’ll have to call on other sounds outside of that beat.

What this means is that the choreographer is gonna be using a lot of “e-and-uh”s. In-betweens that veer off that anticipated rhythm. Getting to know the music as best as you can will help you know exactly when to move.

Just be careful not to expect it too strongly, as this might make you execute ahead of the music.

(See Related Article: How To Train Your Musicality As A Dancer)

How To Pick Up Choreography Better

The beauty of dancing is that you’re allowed to be interpretive with any sound. There are a lot of “default” moves people tend to use for certain sounds, but Paul’s moves are more creative and unexpected. Stylistically, you can practice his “default”s as well.

“Some dancers have great pickup and some have bad. Unfortunately I fall under the bottom half of the dancers who have terrible pickup. FORTUNATELY though, that is why we take class.

Pickup can be learned. The more you take class, the more moves you save to your repertoire. Most of the time you’ll pick up on a handful of a choreographer’s “default” movement the more you take their classes making it easy for you to “kill” it.”

— Paul

Of Course, Practice.

If you’re learning to improve your speed and musicality, put these tips to practice with Paul!

They’ll open your eyes and ears to interpreting music in a new way. 

Take his class online at STEEZY Studio today!

 

Take Paul's class on STEEZY Studio!

 

Want some more tips from other STEEZY Studio choreographers? Try these:

How To Execute Choreography With Strength, Speed, And Cleanliness Like Franklin Yu (ACA)

7 Exercises To Boost Your Popping Fundamentals From Charles Nguyen (Poreotics)