Rhythm


Dancing is inextricably linked to rhythm. The dictionary defines dancing as "moving rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps." So what is rhythm? It is movement that is in sync with a uniform, patterned recurrence of a beat. Essentially, it is Drum Set timed movement. And this is a difficult concept for many people—not difficult to comprehend conceptually, but difficult to make their bodies do it correctly, because fundamental rhythmical concepts are not often taught.

Dancer Guy has taken many, many dance lessons from a great number of people over the years, and not once did any of his instructors explain what rhythm is, and how to find it in the music. They simply assumed that the students understood it. Fortunately, Dave had a musical Orchestra background and so he understood it already when he started teaching dance in 1999, and watching so many people struggle with it illustrated how important it is to teach rhythm as an integral part of dance.

The majority of people are vaguely aware that they don't understand rhythm very well, as indicated by statements that Dave hears all the time: "I have the world's worst rhythm!" and "I have no rhythm at all!" and "I can't even clap my hands to the music!" and "What's a downbeat?"

In both his private lessons and public classes, Dave includes instruction on rhythm. This comprises defining conceptual words like "beat," "count," "step," "tap" or "touch," "downbeat," and more, explaining the difference between music measures and dance measures, how to locate the downbeat in the music so the dance is in sync with the music, how to get back on track if you make a rhythmical mistake or if the music changes its rhythm, and so forth.

For those who are exceptionally "rhythmically challenged," or who suffer from CRD (Caucasian Rhythm Disorder), Dave will be happy to include remedial rhythm training: usually one on one or one on two. This Metronome includes explanations of what to listen for in the music, exercises to develop/improve the ability to move body parts according to regular timing, exercises to increase the neural communication between different parts of the brain (specifically the part that listens to sound and the part that governs muscle movement), and so forth. Note that the rhythmical training Dave does as part of dance instruction does not include how to perform rhythm; but it's enough that you'll be able to perceive the rhythm sufficiently to lead the lady and keep in sync with the music.

At first, rhythm training may seem like an unimportant detail, but as the dictionary definition above shows, rhythm is an absolutely indispensable part of dance. As such, if a person cannot learn rhythm, he cannot Conductor learn dance. Having said that, Dave has never yet met a person who could not learn rhythm. Understanding rhythm is not a mystical knowledge, it is simply a matter of training. If you have had any musical training or experience, you'll probably be farther along when you start than someone who hasn't, but in either case, it can be learned. And it can be fun. :)

Dave encourages his dance students to get in the habit of analyzing music in order to find the downbeat, because that is needed in order to dance with the music. (Dancing with the music is so much more than simply dancing while the music is on...) If you don't know where the music's downbeat is, you won't know when to move your feet, and you'll be dancing in spite of the music, and that is not nearly as attractive.

So, if you have this feeling in the pit of your stomach that you don't yet understand enough about rhythm to do well at dance, what should you do? Contact Dave (the email address and phone number are in the top right corner of this window) and set up a few private lessons for rhythm training. Once you understand rhythm, dance is so much easier. . .



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