Think about the musicality advice that you typically get from your dance teacher. Is it about timing alone or does it expand to picking up in the character of the music and expressing that character?
Good musicality will go well beyond simply being in time. You do of course need to be in time. However, if you want to have really good musicality then you should:
- sense the emotion of the music and express it
- pre-empt the music and dance figures that suit it
- Play with the music (arrive a touch below maybe or dance between the beats depending upon the stye of dance)
However, you have likely never been told to do this nor how to do it. Nevertheless, It is well worth working on your musicality; it adds the final element to social dance that really brings it to life.If you want to know more about how you can work in this, then take a look at the relative section of part two of Dance Better Now.
However, a question remains: why is it so rarely taught?
It likely gets back to dancesport. In dancesport, the processes is to develop a routine and then dance that routine in time to whatever music is played as precicely as possible and with visual appeal. While a routine could be tuned to the music that plays, dancers drill the routine for precise movements. Thus, the dancer's muscle memory of the routine will likely override any musicality the dancer has.
This is not to say that all competitive dance kills musicality. Jack and Jill comp’s, which I think make probably the best contribution to social dance from the swing dance community, not only demand good musicality, but they even promote lyricism at times. For that, you really need to understand the song you are dancing too.
Nevertheless, the dance comp’s that many of us think or are like those in movies such as ‘Shall we Dance?’ These competitions focus more on execution of figures and timing as opposed to musical interpretation and expression on the fly. Thus, you might not get as much help in this area as you might like if your studio is influenced by this approach to dance.
If you do feel that you’re missing it and want a little more, then try going to some schools or dance events that are more focused on the social side of couples dancing. Keep your ears open for musicality workshops too. I have noticed these more at dance festivals.
Just something to think about