Repeating the Intro

Repeating the Intro

In Maroon 5′s song Maps, we started the dance extremely quiet, with a few subtle body movements to acknowledge the guitar.

As you listen to the song, notice the shift that happens when the introduction repeats during beats 33-64. What stands out during this section?

What happens in this second musical paragraph is very common in pop music structure. Many verse-chorus songs are structured so that the verses take 2 major phrases while the chorus takes a phrase. The second paragraph of the verse often has more energy than the first paragraph because the song is building into the chorus, and so we want to show this energy in our dancing.

In this specific song, the drums come in on beat 33 to create a more driving rhythm to the song. But, the song still has a long way to build, so we need a way to dance the driving rhythm without being overwhelming.

For this section, let’s show the drive by changing our rate of weight transfer. When you dance WCS, you have a great deal of freedom for how much of your weight is on the receiving foot at the strike of the beat. A slow rate of weight transfer—like having 60% of your weight on the receiving foot when the beat hits—creates a slow, delayed feeling. By contrast, moving as much as 90% of your weight onto the receiving foot creates an energetic, staccatto look.

During this section, begin dancing with a faster rate of weight transfer. At the start of the beat, aim to have 80-90% of your weight on the receiving foot. This will require you to move faster as the sending foot is pushing to the receiving foot, and then moving slower as your roll through the receiving foot and prepare to send the next foot. The slow roll through the receiving foot is the harder element: if you don’t control that foot, you’ll end up flat-footed and the quality of your body flight will decrease.

Put on the song and try dancing to this section with a faster rate of weight transfer. Your goal is to express the driving energy of the drums while keeping the swing rhythm of your patterns.

One trick to dancing to the layers of music is that you don’t always have to dance an entire section in a specific way. If you dance the first four or eight beats of a new section of a song in a clearly distinct way, that style of dancing will shape how the audience hears the rest of that section. So, by clearing changing your rate of weight transfer for the first eight beats, you can return to a more neutral dance style for the rest of the paragraph. This is useful when you have lots of elements that you want to show (because otherwise your dancing would look frantic), but it also is useful when the song has lots of energy changes. It’s much easier to build the energy of your dancing if you can express high energy, pull back slightly, and then increase the energy again in a different way. We’ll play with that idea as we continue through the song…

Smiling at Your Checkpoints

Smiling at Your Checkpoints

Smiling is hard! When you are thinking about the music, your partner, and that crazy couple next to you on the floor, it’s easy to forget to smile. In this drill, you’re going to train yourself to smile during the dance so you don’t have to consciously think about it on the floor. To trainContinue Reading

Cough to Engage Your Core

Cough to Engage Your Core

How do you engage your core when dancing? If you are like most people, it’s easy to forget about your core and let your center flop around. And, even when you do remember to engage your core, it feels like your body is locked down and immobile. So how is engaging your core supposed toContinue Reading

The Quiet Intro

The Quiet Intro

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Dancing to Layers of Music

In the first part of this series, we listened to Maps by Maroon 5 in order to build a mental picture of the song. Now, it’s time to start breaking down the song so that we can dance to the layers. In this installment, we’ll focus on the introduction to the whole song. Again, listenContinue Reading

Dancing to Layers of Music Intro

Dancing to Layers of Music Intro

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Dancing to Layers of Music

Want to improve your ability to hear and dance to all the elements of a song? In this series, we’re going to look at a practical example of how to identify layers in a song that you can dance to. For this series of exercises, we are not going to think about breaks, and we’reContinue Reading

Level Changes During Spins

Level Changes During Spins

One of the easiest ways to show musicality within your basics is adding level changes to your dance. In this exercise, we’re going to practice adding level changes during spins. Being able to change your level during spins is an important addition to your styling toolkit. For followers, you may be asked to spin whileContinue Reading

Dance Beyond Your Fingertips

Dance Beyond Your Fingertips

Everyone starts learning to dance WCS with their feet, but great dancers expand so that they are dancing with their entire bodies. In this exercise, you’re going to practice continuing your dance all the way through your arms, hands, and even fingertips. The goal of this exercise is to develop the feel for having yourContinue Reading

Transition Weight Triple Spins

Transition Weight Triple Spins

One of the common led syncopations in WCS is the transitional weight triple, in which the follower ends the spin with an extended leg but no weight change, and then shifts on the & in order to make up the weight change for the next movement. This rhythm is used in almost every hip catch,Continue Reading

Practicing Leg Lines with Tendus

Practicing Leg Lines with Tendus

Hitting clean lines makes a huge difference in the quality of your dancing. Not only do good lines look powerful, but they also put your body in the right position for subsequent movements. In this exercise, we’re going to use a tendu exercise to train our leg lines. The Drill: For this exercise, find aContinue Reading

Tripling to Quiet Music

Tripling to Quiet Music

One of the easiest ways to show musicality is to adjust the “volume” level of your dancing to the music by modifying your footwork. Most dancers understand that you can make the dance quieter by taking out weight changes. But, fewer dancers know how to modify their weight changes to make their dancing quieter. InContinue Reading