This Friday is our New Year’s Ball and one of the most fun features of this event is the live orchestra that will be performing for us! This provides us all with the opportunity to learn something new about our dancing!
Regardless of the type of dance, for dancers there are several important differences to keep in mind when dancing or performing to live music rather than recorded music. In a live performance there is always the element of surprise and risk. There is no rewind button and no chance practice to practice with the exact same piece over and over in advance. Dancing to live music means preparing for the challenge of human error and adjusting tempos. Every performance provides an interaction between the dancer and the musician and both will adapt based on what’s happening in that particular moment which means it will be different every single time. Musicians and dancers can feed off each other’s emotional energy which adds dimension to both the music and the dance. Because of this, recorded music (or dance) can sometimes seem flat in comparison since it is missing those components which add passion to a live performance.
Here are a few ideas to help you prepare for dancing to a live orchestra:
- Meet the band! – Getting to know the band will create a more friendly and playful atmosphere during the performance. The more you work with a group of musicians the more festive and cohesive your performance with them will become.
- Listen to different versions of one song – A good way to practice dancing with live music is by rehearsing to different versions of the same song. Some pieces of music are standards which most bands play a version of. Preparing in advance to anticipate their version or understanding the basic rhythms for each type of dance will help you when you are preparing to improvise.
- Be prepared to improvise! Again, this is live so anything can happen!
- Be prepared for different tempos and even songs that may switch between different dances. In the studio, we tend to play music that is the best possible speed for the dances you are learning and songs that stay in the same time signature and rhythm throughout. When dancing to a live orchestra they often play songs that may be faster or slower than standard ballroom dance tempos and there are quite a few songs that even change rhythms partway through, giving you the opportunity to change from dance to dance in the same song.
- Be prepared for longer songs. We often limit the length of the songs we play in the studio to allow us to practice a wider variety of dance styles and with more partners. Live bands will play the songs from beginning to end so don’t use all your energy in the first minute because you’ll most likely be out there longer than at your normal studio party. You’d be amazed at how long some of your favorite songs actually are!
- Give thanks! – It is good etiquette to applaud the musicians after each dance to acknowledge their performance.
- Be one with the music. – If music is the paint, the dancer is the paint brush. Being present in the moment and combining the two components of art is what creates the masterpiece! Music and dance must breathe together.
- Enjoy yourself! Dancing is fun and this needs to come across in your performance. Smile when you feel like smiling and connect with your partner, the audience, and the band by being in tune with the music and letting all of your expression out on the dance floor!
Participating in these sorts of events is the chance to better yourself in more ways than one! A 2017 study regarding well-being found that engaging in music with others, for example at a concert or by dancing, has a notably positive effect on the way people feel. It’s the act of actually experiencing music with other people that seems to matter most. In other words, dancing with a live orchestra is a unique way to improve your personal happiness and well-being! We hope you join us and take the opportunity this Friday to feel better and celebrate the start of a new decade of dance!