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.
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.