The All-Important Rhythm

“Dance is your pulse, your heartbeat, your breathing. It’s the rhythm of your life. It’s the expression in time and movement, in happiness, joy, sadness and envy.”
~Jaques D’ambroise

And 5, 6, 7, 8–

Rhythm. Some say you either have it or you don’t. I think if a person is willing they can learn to find rhythms and follow them, though it might take a bit more effort for some.

A rhythm is a pattern. Count an even 1-2-3-4 and you have a simple rhythm. Usually the emphasis in music falls on the first (the downbeat) and third beats, with rock ‘n roll and R&B favoring back-beats or the 2nd and 4th beats. Of course, a beat or count can be subdivided a lot and rearranged so that it can take some effort to fit the counts of a dance to the rhythm of the music you are dancing to.

The rhythm floating through my head, as I type, would be counted 1-2-3-and-a-4-and-a (from Higher Ground, the RHCP cover).

Interpretation is a glorious thing in music. It’s what sets the true musician apart from someone playing notes on a horn. In dance, anyone can memorize a set of steps or movements. The dancer, though, imbues them with life, with style, with grace.

Recognizing rhythm is important because you can count off the choreography diligently but if you’re not matching the music, there will be a disconnect. You’ll be out of sync. It just won’t feel right. And if anyone is watching you? Chances are they’ll see it, too.

This can happen with people.

Humans are wonderfully varied individuals and we all have our little quirks. These personality traits make us who we are. But what we aren’t, always, is a perfect fit. Finding the people we click with starts with finding our own rhythm, figuring out the dance steps in our own life, first. Then, when we meet others, it’s easier to see (or hear) when our rhythms match up.

Sometimes people don’t “mesh well.” This can happen both in personal and professional situations. In the latter, you almost have to try and boil it down to it’s basic rhythms and find a common ground–sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In personal situations it’s (occasionally!) easier to find a new dance partner than make a 3/4 and a 4/4 match up.

My middle school band director used to challenge us to keep 4/4 time with one hand while keeping 3/4 waltz with the other. He could do it if he concentrated, I still can’t get it. Give it a try and let me know if you can do it (remember, the trick is that the four beats of one and the three beats of the other both take the same amount of time to complete).

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By the way, when I was writing for eHow.com, I wrote an article about choosing a dance teacher. If you’re thinking of plunging into the fun and learning to dance from a pro, give it a read. Not every teacher was made for every student, but when you find a good one you get way more than you pay for!

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