How do you count when dancing? Or are you one of those lucky people who just feel the beat, and doesn't need to count? If you are, then good luck to you. However, most of us aren't so we need to count.
There are many ways that music can be counted. Some examples:
- Salsa can be 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 or 1,2,3...,5,6,7... or quick, quick, slow
- Cha Cha Cha can be 1,2,3,4&5,6,7,8& or 1,2,3,4&1,2,3,4& or 1,2,3, Cha Cha Cha, 5,6, Cha Cha Cha, 2,3, Cha Cha Cha or 2,3, Cha Cha Cha, 2,3, Cha Cha Cha
- Jive can be 1,2, 1,2,3 or 1,2,1&2,1&2 or 1,2,3&4,5&6,7,8, or 1,2,quick quick quick, ,quick quick quick
- Samba can be & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 or 1 ah 2, 2 ah 2, 3 ah 2, 4 ah 2
These are only a few examples. The point is to show that there are different ways to count.
An interesting question is why?
We all have natural ways of learning and thinking about things. Having an engineering background I am more inclined to count all beats and the syncopations if they are there. However, I am still inclined to say 'Cha Cha Cha' in my head when I am doing that dance. Other people are more intuitive and more inclined to use words or broken counting.
The point is you might find that when trying to master a new dance changing the way you count will help you. And, it might be that the way your teacher counts doesn't suit you. So if you're having troubles then try to count the steps in a few different ways until you find one that works for you. Sometimes, just looking at the dance from a few different perspectives will make it easier to learn and help you develop a natural response to the music.
In the long run you will want to count each beat and the syncopations, because as dance becomes more sophisticated it relies more upon syncopation. If you can count this, then you will better able to dance to it.
So for the time being, if your musical ability is less than you would like, try a few different ways of counting if you're not quite getting the rhythm of a dance, but work toward counting each beat so that you have a strong musicality to help with your dancing as you take one more sophisticated steps.