does beat define dance?

#1
anyone see this episode of DWTS? I was research about a question I have about whether dance needs a beat or not. I heard of tone deafness but beat deafness? where is the fine line between interpretation of a dance beat vs dancing with the beat?
 

vit

Active Member
#5
Video works for me, but I don't think that it proves her "beat deafness" in any way. Their rehearsals went bad, she wasn't well prepared for the show and all her movements were a kind of blocked. Her "beat awareness" was maybe perfectly ok, just she wasn't able to do what she was supposed to

However, video is showing nicely some typical problems in relation teacher student (whether they were real or just part of the show), for instance sentences

"So you are telling me how to teach dancing - that's what I do for living"
"I love how you teach, but you don't take any consideration how I learn"

... it happens frequently :(

The best one was "I teach teachers how to teach" :rofl:
 
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#6
thanks for the replies. I raised this question because I was trying to find out whether "artistic" interpretation has no beat definition at an extreme point. when I see someone performing whether it is a pro or amateur who does seem to follow a certain beat pattern, does that mean they are "off beat" or are they interpreting the music in a way we don't understand.
thanks for pointing out the problems with teaching...that quotation "I teach teachers how to teach" isn't that what they call an oxymoron? teachers teach people who to do things whether it's teaching or baking a cake. kinda strange quotation IMHO.
 
#8
thanks for the replies. I raised this question because I was trying to find out whether "artistic" interpretation has no beat definition at an extreme point. when I see someone performing whether it is a pro or amateur who does seem to follow a certain beat pattern, does that mean they are "off beat" or are they interpreting the music in a way we don't understand.
thanks for pointing out the problems with teaching...that quotation "I teach teachers how to teach" isn't that what they call an oxymoron? teachers teach people who to do things whether it's teaching or baking a cake. kinda strange quotation IMHO.
Beat-deafness is a thing but only a matter of recent study. The first diagnosed case of it is dated to 2011 but since then, other cases have been previously found. I've met a few myself and it can be sometimes amusing what their music library continues. Lots of free jazz and experimental music, or only listening to singer-songwriter, where the social requirement of dancing to a rhythm can be thrown out the window.

That said, in the video, it looks certainly more like a case of lack of motor memory. I feel that she can perceive the rhythm but lacks the history of doing anything more than bouncing to a beat.
 

opendoor

Well-Known Member
#9
..I raised this question because I was trying to find out whether "artistic" interpretation has no beat definition at an extreme point..
Dancing is a form of interpretation of the music with moves. There are different layers of music you can refer to when interpreting: the beat, the rhythm, the phrase, the melody, the second voice, instruments, riffs, chords, style, mood, cultural aspects. Dancing always is a selection of characteristics you actually find important to map with your body.

Sometimes you want to counteract or destroy a passage you find too cloying or too military. Then you can double the tempo or slower down. Very often I try to dance against the rhythm or even out of beat, against the beat (which is not that easy). That always will yield a strong accent. But of course most of the time I do dance in time. I try to avoid the concept of beat, because its mistakeable: a syncope is against the beat, but within the rhythm. A lot of peaces though written in 4/4 signature require phrases that are longer than the bar itself.
 
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Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#10
interpreting the music in a way we don't understand
I just happen to be looking at the effect of bebop on social dancing after WWII (not much)
Dizzy Gillespie was trying to figure out how to keep his big band going, and, with the prodding of his wife/manager, he realized that the only way to be more popular (which is what Chick Webb was doing when he put Ella Fitzgerald in the band) was to play music with a recognizable, danceable beat.

I remember one guy who was kind of bragging about how he danced 7 against 8, or some darn thing. I can imagine what his partners thought.
Then there was famed Twyla Tharp's choreography to Billy Joel's music, Movin' Out. I suppose if I had never danced before, or had only ever seen ballet and modern, I would not have had any expectations about the movement reflecting the music.

How about “See the music, hear the dance” instead?

You can dance ahead of the beat, behind the beat, whatever; but if you can't tell when the music itself is "behind the beat," maybe it's best if you strive to be "on the beat."

As far as "beat defining the dance, well, yeah, but insofar as there is not only one way.
Waltz for instance has the three steps per pattern / per bar, but also the "Canter step" of two steps per bar.
Salsa has a pretty definite beat, but is danced on 1, or on 2.
Nite Club Two Step has been changed around (by a big dance organization) so that the steps no longer correspond to the accented beats of the music.

Then there is the concept that you as a dancer can act like you are another instrument, which allows a certain amount of freedom to play with things. Of course if you weren't really "playing along with" the other instruments, you probably wouldn't be asked back again.
 

Larinda McRaven

Site Moderator
Staff member
#14
The thing about beat deafness is real. Whether we decide to dance within a certain constrain of understanding of rhythm/ beats or we choose to interpret the rhythm differently isn't really the question. Having taught for almost 30 years there are many students who have wandered my way who simply couldn't clap on time. Who had no awareness that an even beat would be coming with ant regularity. Who had no ability to make their hands clap at a preset tempo.

I often talk about my deaf student. He was fantastic to teach and motivated me to think about delivering information differently because he clearly was going to be taking in information differently. It inspired me to research brain development and rhythm. And what I found, although I can no longer locate the studies, is that there IS a time in brain development for an infant, in which rhythm is learned. There is a set period of time, where an even beat of rhythm delivered to the the baby's head (rocking) creates neural pathways that last hopefully for a lifetime. SO in cultures where babies are bounced and rocked continually during that crucial time we have entire populations who are natural dancers with a "gift" of rhythm. And for those cultures (or micro-cultures... families) where babies are not danced and swayed and rocked we see populations or people with no rhyth, Because the brain was not molded that way when it was most plastic.
 
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tangotime

Well-Known Member
#15
I just happen to be looking at the effect of bebop on social dancing after WWII (not much)

Salsa has a pretty definite beat, but is danced on 1, or on 2.

.
My BR teacher back when, as did many studios in the UK, were dead set against "Bop ". In matter of fact, the ( I think it was ) Hammersmith Palais cordoned of a small portion of the floor for Bop dancers. Kinda strange because the only music that came close was Q /Step .

Also Steve, salsa on 3 ( common with PRs )..
 

j_alexandra

Well-Known Member
#16
Slightly OT: Never heard the term "beat deafness" before this, but it makes perfect sense, and describes so many people I know, some of them dancers.

I have had two dance buddies ask me to help them figure out how to hear the 1, in a measure of music. Both are lovely dancers, but using their partners to find the beat. Can't do it for themselves.

As Larinda said, they cannot
clap on time. Who had no awareness that an even beat would be coming with any regularity. Who had no ability to make their hands clap at a preset tempo.
And we're not talking about slightly more complex beats, like 7/8 or 5/4, or even just split beats, like a 2and3 of a chasse.

"Beat deafness" finally gives me a term of art. Thanks for it.
 

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