Bridging the Dance and Jazz Artforms 

by Russ Nolan

25 + 6 = 3: After playing jazz professionally for 25 years and dancing Salsa for 6, I have 3 observations regarding Dancers and Musicians (though not mutually exclusive):

1)     Non-musicians can find ‘1’

In a rare lecture-style class, legendary innovator of the NY Salsa style, Eddie Torres, played different Salsa tracks for the students and instructed, “Clap on ‘1’ when you hear it.” Out of 50 + people, only a few missed it the first time and no one the second. They also could find ‘off-beats’ such as 6, 7, 3, etc.! How can they do this without ever seeing what a quarter note is on a musical staff?! Only the most advanced dancers can recognize and choreograph to clave, cascara, bell, and other instrument patterns—and many have not seen it on the page. People can be taught to feel music in their bodies and translate it to their heads.


Eddie Torres

2)     Jazz vs. Dance

As a jazz musician, I enjoy the complexity, sophistication, and unpredictability of music. It ‘keeps me on my toes’. However, I do NOT enjoy it as a social dancer. Too much of the above mentioned disrupts the communication I want with my partner. The most important aspect of social dancing to me is Flow. I will demonstrate my understanding of this as I lead a Salsa Band for the first time on Monday 3/25/13 at Session 73. Sets at 9:15 and 11:15.






3)     Musicians can learn to Dance

Discussing this with Latin Jazz Accordionist Victor Prieto last night (yes, jazz ACCORDION like you never heard anything so hip before! His upcoming shows are here .), it is possible for musicians to translate the head knowledge into their bodies.  Once they achieve physical coordination –no matter how long it takes—they have a definite advantage.


Victor Prieto

OK, enough talk. I invite you all to explore on the FLOOR! See you Monday!

Russ Nolan New York Jazz Educator and Clinician

Russ Nolan Jazz Blog

  1. Hey Russ. I, like you am a Jazz enthusiast. Playing Jazz and Salsa dancing are alike in that they both give you the freedom of improvisation. I am sure that is why they are both so appealing to you as well as to myself. Nice to hear that you will be at Session 73 this coming Monday. I will try to be their. All the best to you….Eddie Q.

    • Yes, Eddie, I like the fact that by definition, improvisation is never the same twice! We share that love! Thank you for commenting!

  2. I LIKE it, Russ. Best of luck with your NEW band. You can follow in the footsteps of GREAT musicians who are FABULOUS dancers like Jimmy Bosch!

  3. Thank you for replying, Abbey. You understand as well as anyone. I will do my best to honor both of these worlds!

  4. My turn. One word said it, “Flow”. I am guilty of falling off the 2 when I hear the groove in 1, so as a result I’m on the 1&2. So Shoobeedobee do.. This is post show comment.. and I can say it was a helluva a good time on my 2 feet and in my 2 ears. lol.

  5. Test reply

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