In Focus

Change the way you think...

Miguel de Sousa


What is "timing"? What is rhythm? Can we have one without the other? I'll start by offering you my definition to both "timing" and "rhythm".

Timing(being on time)
effectively dancing on the number beats: 1-2-3-4

the manner in which one decides to move through the number beats: 1&2-3-4

If you're off-time, meaning not dancing on the number beats, then we don't really have a dance. So, let's assume that we're all dancing on time when we discuss rhythm. In my opinion, it's possible to be on-time and off-rhythm. Most WCS dancers have a tough time dancing to Blues. Why is that? Most Blues songs have a swung rhythm, and most dancers dance a flat rhythm, hence they feel on-time but off the rhythm of the song. Here's where Rolling Count makes a big difference on Rhythm and getting your dance to "swing". Our dance can best be described as a dance of two minds. One mind (Top) deals with the timing and connection of the Lead/Follow between the partnership. The other (Bottom) deals solely with the Rhythm, and that Rhythm is personal and does not have to match the partner's. The Top just has to be on-time. The Bottom decides the manner in which to express the music best. For example, the 1-2 of a pattern can be done as a walk-walk (slow-slow) or as a triple step or triple rhythm 1&2 or hold 1-&2. Either partner can choose their own timing for that block. It does not have to match. Hopefully, this will lower the stress level of some dancers that feel that they NEED to match their partner's rhythm at all times. You don't! Musicality is individual and sets the personal expression of the song. Yes, there are lead movements that change the partner's rhythm to match (accelerations, double-resistance) and, if done properly, fall into the Teamwork category.

To me, rhythm choice is irrelevant is WCS. Does it mean that one can just do whatever they want with the dance? NO!! It's still WCS and needs to still look like it. But the dance does give us the freedom to "stray" from that basic rhythm of 1-2-3&4-5&6 from time to time. WCS is made up of blocks containing two beats each. A 6-count pattern has 3 blocks, 8-count pattern has 4 blocks, etc. We can then name them as Double - Triple - Triple as they describe the Rhythm inside the block. And this is what we do in our first WCS lesson... walk-walk - triple step - triple step. But, as we get better and more at ease with the music and its rhythms, we notice that those blocks sometimes don't "hit" the music with the proper rhythm. For example, if the song has a triple rhythm while you are on the Double block...what do you do? Most dancers will ignore the song's triple and dance the Double rhythm of the pattern because that's what they have learned. The more experienced dancers, will ignore the pattern rhythm block and change its rhythm to match the song.

Try this exercise:

Using only 6-count patterns (for ease of practice), move the Double block up one position after each pattern.

This exercise will put you on the "incorrect" foot from what you are used to. This is ok!! To better express the music, we must let go of the assumption that a certain number will always be on the same foot. Also notice that, with just moving the Double block around, you will still end up on the "correct" foot on the anchor 6 step. This exercise is a great start to your journey into Musicality. Enjoy and have fun!!

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