On Musicality

Holger Nitsche gives us insight on music and movement and how we have to understand both concepts to become a great musical dancer. Comment by Anthony Hurley

By Holger Nitsche

Theme: Is a great competitor following the actually played music in the competition?

Music and movement are basically two independently excisting living art forms. 
You can either follow the music with your movement or not.

In order to become a great musical dancer you must understand the music in it`s complexity and details and you must follow the patterns given from each type of music. If you ignore it you will not be in tune of the dance.

In my understanding music is based on 3 pillars:

  • The Rhythm
  • The Melody
  • The Voice

Each of them has a clear meaning for music and movement. To reach complex musicality you must move on all 3 lines.

In the moment the components of a particular music change, the interpretation of the music will change and therefore the dance has to change! This happened many times in history and created many new dance forms. (example: Boogie Woogie with the introduced piano and it’s interpretated foot patterns in compare to the swing).

High quality ballroom dancing nowadays should include a full understanding of the original music of each dance. Each single step should be absorbed and understood. 
The result of this could be a complex and well-designed choreography.

The dancer must carefully analyse every aspect of each dance, as Walter Laird already said, to perfect it as an art form. 
This high level choreography is basically preconstructed in the practice studio before the actual competition takes place. Many hours of mental and practical work, many hours with the experts help and a lot of musical study is necessary to be done to reach the desired perfection. Every little piece and detail of the music is placed carefully in form of movement at the right place in the routine. As more details the dancer understands in terms of movement and music, the higher the outcome quality will be. 
The result of this will be a fully constructed masterpiece of movement related to the basic pattern of the dance and it`s music. 
It means that the individual interpretation of the music will be planned before we perform on the stage!

On the day of performance the dancer will try to present this product with as much perfection as possible. The result will be a clear and readable performance with a clear appearence in space. 

So the question raises cleary, if there is any space left for the competitors to follow with their basic instincts the actually played music or will he/she be the slave of his/her high goal of perfection? 
Are the trained instincts and feelings killing the natural instincts?

Should the routines be constructed up to the last detail or should the dancer have more space for musical interpretation at the actual moment of performing on the stage? 

In my belief just a very seldom amount of dancers have the capacity to react on the actual moment of the music. 
It’s a very special gift these artists have and it makes them adorable.

Holger Nitsche

From Anthony Hurley: I very much like the reference to interpuntuation, dynamics, length and emphasis of notes. These actions and moods can only occur if the dancer listens to the music even before taking the first steps. Nowadays it seems that competitors can’t start quick enough as though they will be penalised by the adjudicators. I also enjoyed Holger’s thoughts. It’s good to know there are still some believers in the importance of interpreting the music.

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