Musicality: for some reason this term makes one think about complicated stuff. In reality the term 'musicality' simply refers to the relationship between dance and music.

Musicians and dj's put a lot of energy and talent into offering us great and exciting music, so I guess they would appreciate if we wouldn't be just dancing 'on salsa' or 'on bachata' but on a song (with its own feeling, rhythm, 'content').  Which of course means that every dance will be influenced by every song it is danced on.

In fact this is already the case from the very first steps in salsa dancing. Teachers tell us or ask us to dance on the 1 (or on the 2) and to keep the tempo of the song. That is already dancing accordingly to the music, that's already 'musicality'. For many dancers this is in itself a big challenge and because of that finding the 1 (if you want to dance 'on1') or the 2 (if you want to dance 'on2') is a topic of many classes throughout the world.

A song is more than just counts and tempo. Not every 'first count' is the same, some are less or more accentuated. These accents or 'breaks' are particularly important in salsa music as this genre is extremely strong in providing us with fantastic 'breaks' ... So musicality will also be about 'doing something' with these accents, with these very strong or less strong accents by responding to them in our dancing. Or not responding if we don't want to, but then it's a conscious choice of the dancer.

The tempo has an importance too of course. It is probably a good idea to adapt your dancing accordingly to the tempo of the song. This also requires a consciousness of the music you're dancing on.

Next to the rhytmical structure, there's the feeling every song has.  Which of course is connected to the tempo, to the accents, to the general rhythmical structure. Does it have a strong beat, with strong and clear accents? Or is it more mellow? Does it play a lot with the rhythm, with syncopation?

So in general it seems like the essence of musicality is not hard to understand. One needs to know that he or she is dancing on music, it is as simple as that. Which means that we need to listen to the music. And then interpret it somehow. Or connect with it if you prefer.

Can you learn that? Can you become a better 'musicalist' than you are? I guess you can learn this. You can force yourself to listen when you're dancing. You can listen at home to Latin music and get it more 'into your system'. You can take classes in which teachers will explain about the rhythmic structure of salsa, they can help you finding the 1 or the 2 more easily. They can teach you how to possibly express or interpret the music. But first and for all I believe it is a simple mental thing: understand that you dance on music. Listen to it, feel it, get touched or excited by it ... and dance.

This is nothing more than my personal opinion. Please feel free to post your comments and your opinion!

LeuvenSalsa! organizes on November 19th and 20th the 8th edition of the Leuven Salsa Festival that is entirely dedicated to 'Musicality, styling and expression'. See this page for more info.


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