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Lack of musicality

Once again I had a conversation about the lack of musicality in Sydney. And even the musicality forum didn't even have a thread in it. To set the scene, I have two points of concern:

- First that people don't start with the music and Secondary people's dancing is so bland.

1. My friend who is new to tango, bravely got and danced only a few dances. He took up the embraced, listened carefully to the music, centred his follower for the first step, and then had to wait. After awhile he ended up apologising to his partner, to explain they were not moving with the music. I have seen the dance floor stationary until a minute and half into the song as some people want to have a chat. I have even hear people say it is a part of being a good dancer and a status thing to be able to wait and not start at the beginning of the song. It is funny for me, that everyone talks of the flow of the dance, and if you start with the flow at the beginning you won’t be able throughout the dance. If you want to have a chat with someone, then please go over to them and have a chat at one of the many tables. It is not a school dance where little boys and girls are on opposite sides of the room and can only interact in the middle which is the floor. (Yes that might happen in traditional BA, but also bringing a knife to a dance was BA tradition at one stage too)

2.A Before we get on to bland dancing, we need to define exactly what stage dancing is. For me – it is dancing to a set routine. It has nothing to do with neither type of the figure nor size of the figure. For social dancers if you have more room you can make bigger figures, if the floor is crowded you are more compact. Therefore in the following paragraph I am talking about how we do a single step, such as a side step.

 2. The majority of dancers only dance to the cadence. Yes their foot hits the ground when there is a beat, but it is the most basic form of musicality.

Second comes the counters where they hit the 1 and 5 with a more dramatic step.  Where you can really start making things complex very quickly by introducing 3,3,2 rhythm by Astor Piazzolla, or if your dancing Milonga

  [1]  2  3  [4]  [5]  6  [7]  8, sometimes also [1]  [2]  3  [4]  [5]  6  [7]  8   or   3  3  2  [1]  2  3  [4]  5  6  [7]  8

Third comes the phrases, where you combine different figures to match the nature of the music. Strong harsh syncopated beats for walking and soft melodic phrases.

Fourth you can separate the different lines of the music where the leader will dance to the bass line and the follower to the melody. This allows the follower to add adornments within the leaders figures.

Fifth you can dance to the pitch of the music. This includes the up-beats, down – beats and off beats. You can have sharp quick steps or the suspended steps. There is a huge different between long slow low planeo and a high Boleo.

Musicality for a dancer is to make the dance fit the music. This in turn means using movement to represent and emphasize the tempo, harmony, melody and vocals in a song. Adding musicality to your dance requires some understanding of the structure of the music itself. It also means you must be connected to the music.

The  interpret of music is pretty much standard where almost everyone will have a similar experience to certain music and it can be explain in 5 dot points.


The real interesting point with music and dancing is the expression of music, which is a much more interesting and difficult topic.

Re: Lack of musicality

Yep.  I'd have to agree.  Sometimes watching Tango here in Sydney is like watching people just going through the motions. It looks very mechanical, there is no feeling in the dancing.

Re: Lack of musicality

There are many that could post about the musicality and not everyone will ever dance to the same levels. There are often discussions on basic, intermediate, advanced and masterful dancing of music. Each person get's to where they want to be by the work that they put in.

It's not up to us as a community to bash any individual for either their dancing, musicality, LOD, or embrace, it really is up to us to accept that without the individuals desire, they will be as they are.

Why are we all not earning millions of dollars every year? We all could be, but the vast majority of us settle for less. Decide that it's too hard or that we have no further desire to earn more... are too comfortable or just accept that this is our level and can't be bothered improving. There is no difference in our tango communities desires here either.

Time that people stopped sledging others efforts as good or as bad as they may seem, and start being positive. Negativity is the cancer of society.

Re: Lack of musicality
Hello everyone, I'm new to this forum, and this is my first post. Please bear with me. :) I don't agree with Damian Thompson's view that Craig's post was negative in it's nature. I think it's great that someone with more tango experience posts comments like this. They are very useful to anyone who is still learning or wants to learn further on the subject of tango. I understand that people dance socially at different levels and for different reasons. Not everyone is interested in becoming a "champion" tango dancer and for some dancing tango at milongas is a chance to connect to other people, I agree with that. However saying that people should be comfortable to be at certain level is a bit of a cop out. We dance because we enjoy tango. It's not like it's an office work, where you can choose not to participate in a rat race. If you love doing something it means your heart is in it and you yearn for more. I think however that Craig and Damian are both under somewhat flawed assumption on "people's" dancing skills, just on the opposite sides of the scale. Craig's assumption is that everyone possesses a natural talent for musicality and skill to discern the music that they dance to the level that he describes in his post. Damian's assumption is that people are essentially mediocre and/or incapable of improvement. My feeling is that everyone is striving for their best. And that's why it's great to read posts like Craig's. I found it very useful and certainly it makes me think more about these points when I dance. Because I strive to dance the best I can dance, I'd rather read a post that motivates me then the one that says it's OK to cop out. Very thoughtful discussion though, I think there should be more like this on this forum. Thank you Craig and thank you David. Craig, I encourage you to post more of your 'dancing critiques' and explanations.

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