The 4 Levels of Musicality


The 4 Levels of Musicality

dancer listening to music

This is one of some new concepts that I am working on for my classes and workshops. It is quite new, and I taught it once at the ForróCamp and I am eager to further develop it in Zouk and other dances as this is a very universal approach to show my students a little step by step guidance to express themselves to the music 🥰


1️⃣ Level 1: dancing on the conventional rhythm  (for example the slow, quick, quick pattern)

👉 This one sounds pretty simple and obvious but in reality in turns out not to be so simple! There are many dancers especially in the beginning struggling with keeping the basic rhythm. And then there are many dancers who want to jump this step and want to move on straight to level 2 or 4 but my experience is: If they can’t dance all of their moves IN the conventional rhythm, then they also can’t controllably dance outside of it. And to dance on the rhythm while also keeping the dance interesting is even harder to do!


2️⃣ Level 2: play with the basic rhythm by halving and doubling the tempo (for example only doing slow or quick steps, dancing on the bpm etc)

👉 This step is one of the easiest to approach musicality in more beginner dancers! You can play around so much with this tool and apply it in so many different movements (body waves, caminhada/walks, s and much more). The challenge is mostly to enter and to exit the change of speed. Especially dancers who are very used to dancing in the conventional rhythm all the time (as happens for example a lot in forró) it can so be hard to break that habit of always dancing slow quick quick.


3️⃣ Level 3: Recognizing the phrasal structure of the music and the change of dynamic 

👉 Most modern music we dance to in nowadays couple dance scene is organized in phrases with 16,32 or 63 counts before changing the dynamic. This change can for example be from a lower energy in the verse to a higher energy in the refrain or vice versa and will often be marked with a break or a hit on the 1 of the new phrase or with the introduction of a new instrument. We can use this change of energy to structure our dance and to create contrasts which will ultimately make our dance more interesting and more in sync with the music. The difficulty here is that many dancers are not even aware of this structure or they are but they focus too much just on hitting the big 1 that they completely miss to grab the energy as a source of inspiration for their dance.


4️⃣ Level 4: Using the melody to dance and connect with your partner 

👉 This level is by far the most difficult to do! And that is for two reasons: naturally the melody of a song is what stands out to most of us naive listeners to music (that is also what we remember most about the song). But when we start dancing we focus so hard on dancing to the rhythm that we often end up dancing „only“ to the percussion of the song because this is the convention and what we trained to do most of our dancelifes. But as soon as we start opening our minds to that possibility it will come naturally to many of us to dance on the melody. The problem will no me be to unite two bodies that will probably move and listen to the music differently. The difficult task will be to convey your way to move to the music to your partner because we now find ourselves in a field that is not inherently part of our conventions in couple dancing but that will require a really good connection in between the dance couple.


➡️ what do you think is the next level? Or would you like to enter a level in between? And how can the follower express musicality when the leader decides the speed of the weight transfer ? These are the topics I am working on the broaden this new concept.

See me teaching these concepts in my next workshops 🥰 or invite me to teach in your city if you are interested 😜


Your, Julinha