My partner lacks musicality


Well-Known Member
Having had the experience of dancing with a follow who insisted on dancing to her own sense of timing, which was waaaaaay off, I can sympathize with the OP. (And I think, that until and unless her DP joins here and posts, we owe it to her to take her at her word... it's what we do for each other here.) I always say that, as the lead, timing is my prerogative. However, when I talk about "timing" in that sense, I'm talking about small variations put in for the purpose of expressing the movement. As the lead, you can lead unorthodox timing, but if you're going to do that, you better make darn sure that your lead is crystal-clear. It is primarily the follow's job to express the music, and she can't do that if she has to ignore the music in order to follow the lead's timing.

Observation: Alice says that her partner seems to have the most trouble with faster tempos. That, I totally get. When the tempo is fast and you don't feel like you can keep up with it, the first thing you do is make all of your movements abrupt and jerky -- which is terrible for leading. The poor follow has no inkling that you're about to do something until you've already done it. That in turn adds latency to the following, which just throws things off further, and the next thing you know, you're wondering where the hell the rhythm went. There are two answer to this: First of all, dance to slower tempos until you get more accustomed to each other. Second, both partners need to work on "filling up the beat" with movement.


Active Member
In my competitive days, I had only a few partners. After starting dancing salsa, I danced with big number of followers from all over the world - different countries, different perception of the music and style of dancing, different dancing (or non-dancing) background from various other dance genres, different knowledge (from started dancing last week to winning on international ballroom pro championships) etc. And - overall, my conclusion is - it's not much different than in ordinary life. Some people go together well and some don't, no matter what you do. Of course it's much more likely that I will enjoy dancing with a good dancer. But, sometimes I get a follower that is almost a beginner and, by a miracle, the dance is great, way above all expectations. Sometimes I get an experienced, technically good follower and, for some reason, it's not fun at all (no, we don't have problems with timing or things like that, but it just doesn't feel right without obvious reason)

From OP's post, it's hard to know who's fault is it or it is actually nobody's fault, but - overall - it doesn't look like promising partnership. Couple must enjoy dancing with each other from the very beginning, otherwise chances for them to become a successful competitive couple are small


Active Member
I generally like to say that the lady responds to the gentleman. Rather than follows whatever the leader says. For a few reasons:
1. This shows that both partners must give equal thought and energy into their dancing.
2. The lady may follow something correctly but has the option of interpreting it to match her style. You don't need to do everything by the book, then dancing wouldn't be any fun.

Next, being off time doesn't mean you are lacking musicality. I once danced a competition in standard where our current coach came up to us after and said, your waltz looked great, it wasn't on time but it was very musical. Meaning we were feeling the music and taking steps with how the music made us feel as opposed to just counting straightforward. While in smooth or open standard that would be more acceptable, in silver/gold its kind of a fine line. At nationals we did our waltz in smooth and we have a few closed hold things and during one round we do like a back twinkle, basically and are supposed to do regular 1-2-3 waltz timing and well this one time we felt the music differently and it felt good to go on 2 instead. We immediately realized that this would put us off time so we held the twinkle until the next 3 and made it look like we were growing.

Now if your partner is neither trying to fill in the music with his movements nor is on time, then as others have suggested dance in front of your coach and ask what they see. Partners never like to listen to their partners. Suggestions put in a nice way are ok but they never seem to get through. Coaches represent a level usually somewhat unattainable (even though it is attainable) to their students which makes the student want/need to work harder and trust what the coach has to say.
Showdance couples frequently disregard musical beat, and gymnastic showdance often uses music like background muzak as gymnasts perform stationary death-defying lifts to ceiling height.

It could be that one partner likes a jolly romp, the other endless exploration of possible body movements.


Well-Known Member
Next, being off time doesn't mean you are lacking musicality.
Totally agree. You can hit your cha cha on the 4 and 1 and have perfect technique and be perfectly on time but not have musicality, which means you're actually listening to the music and feeling it and adapting your movement to it. A happy waltz song makes dancing a waltz somberly look silly. Timing and musicality are related but not the same thing.


Well-Known Member
*shameless self-promotion alert*

I just created a video on the basics of musicality. Please take a look and let me know whether you think there's anything so egregiously wrong that it needs to be corrected with an annotation!

Since he is blaming you and avoiding dancing to music in front of your coach I would pull out my favourite line of "I've been feeling like I've been dancing off time with the music lately, can you (coach) take a look at us dance and let me know what I'm doing wrong?"

A tad sneaky but how is he meant to avoid that one.
I know lots has been said already about how OP might be able to approach fixing the musical issues in her partnership. But it seems to me that her partner is unwilling to be part of a partnership, and simply wants a body to practice with. Who is paying for lessons? Are costs shared among the partners? Because that means OP has just as much right to direct the focus in lessons as her partner, possibly more if she is the less experienced dancer who is trying to catch up.

My big red flag is this:
"every time our instructor offers music, my partner says: "no, let's just work on this particular figure", which we do for the next 45 min."

Plus the fact that you mentioned he keeps brushing aside your concerns and requests during practice time.

Have you ever tried bringing up the timing issue in a lesson? If your partner is steamrolling you there, too, in front of your coach - maybe try to talk to your coach privately sometime your partner's not in the studio to get some advice on how to approach your partnership, from someone who DOES know you both. (As has been pointed out several times, none of us have ever seen you interact, so we can only make suggestions based on limited info.)

Anyway, I hope this all works out for you, one way or another!
I am very impressed by Musicbrain's dress.
She is more than Musicbrain, also Paintingbrain.
OP's partner is probably a crossword-puzzle and gymnastics brain, not a Musicbrain. Each to his own.

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