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Thread: Musicality in MJ vs WCS

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    Basically lazy robd's Avatar
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    Re: Down beat and Upbeat

    Moved from the "downbeat and upbeat" thread - DavidJames

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames View Post
    Obviously, musicality is better in WCS than in MJ.
    Can't believe you've made such a sweeping generalisation DJ even though I am a big fan of WCS myself. Yes, some of the stuff on YouTube is great and the top Americans are fantastically musical but that's because they are very talented professionals who've been dancing for years. I will concede that the lower barriers to entry for MJ mean that there are possibly more people doing that style who are unable to dance in time (though this ability doesn't count as 'musicality' for me). I just don't think there's anything inherent within the dance styles that would support your statement above.
    Last edited by David Bailey; 23rd-August-2007 at 09:07 AM.

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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    Re: Down beat and Upbeat

    Quote Originally Posted by robd View Post
    Can't believe you've made such a sweeping generalisation DJ even though I am a big fan of WCS myself.
    I didn't, DavidB did, here

    He rated MJ musicality as 2/10 - 5/10 and WCS musicality as 10/10.

    Now, OK, that refers to the practice rather than the "inherent dance", but that's also what I was referring to. If a dance is danced consistently with musicality, then to me that means it's got something inherently "musicality-focussed".

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    Re: Down beat and Upbeat

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames View Post
    I didn't, DavidB did, here

    He rated MJ musicality as 2/10 - 5/10 and WCS musicality as 10/10.

    Now, OK, that refers to the practice rather than the "inherent dance", but that's also what I was referring to. If a dance is danced consistently with musicality, then to me that means it's got something inherently "musicality-focussed".
    28 minutes to find that link DJ You're slipping.....

    Actually my post was made thinking back to DavidB's point in that same thread

    Modern Jive is not lacking as an art. The limitation is not with MJ itself, but with our collective ability to do it.

    There is nothing to stop someone getting up to 10/10 in every single category - other than ability, opportunity, time and money. The people who got to this level in the other dance styles had the ability, opportunity and time. They are probably getting the money from everyone else now...

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    Lovely Moderator ducasi's Avatar
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    Re: Down beat and Upbeat

    David B put the best MJ as 5/10 on musicality, presumably comparing it to the best WCS as 10/10.

    He put the average MJ as 2/10, I wonder where he'd put the average WCS dancer?

    Speaking personally, my MJ is much more musical than my WCS, but then that's probably due to the different experience levels I have in the two dances. However, I imagine that this is the case for many (or even most?) MJ dancers who have turned to WCS.

    So, I don't think that "musicality is better in WCS than in MJ" is a universal truth.
    Let your mind go and your body will follow. Steve Martin, LA Story

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    Basically lazy robd's Avatar
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    Re: Down beat and Upbeat

    Quote Originally Posted by ducasi View Post
    Speaking personally, my MJ is much more musical than my WCS, but then that's probably due to the different experience levels I have in the two dances. However, I imagine that this is the case for many (or even most?) MJ dancers who have turned to WCS.
    This is interesting, and something I recall other experienced MJ dancers saying - which backs up Ducasi's last sentence. I suspect in part it's because if we take a (very simplistic) view of the components of leading as
    1 - Move your own body
    2 - Lead the movements of your follower
    3 - React to the music
    then very often beginners are so busy concentrating on 1 they neglect 2 & 3 and once 1 becomes confident they concentrate on 2 and neglect 3. I certainly found this in my cha cha and rumba lessons. For experienced jivers they tend to be confident in 1 & 2 which enables a greater focus on 3.

    I think an interesting side question to this is 'what actually is musicality?' in the context of MJ/WCS. Again, referring to DavidB who posted somewhere sometime that musicality involved a 'lot more than just hitting breaks'. It amused (but didn't at all surprise) me that Paul Warden was more musical whilst judging the WCS JnJ on Fri than some of those out on the floor. Maybe have to look back through the archives to see if this has been done before and if it's ripe for re-airing.

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    Re: Down beat and Upbeat

    Quote Originally Posted by ducasi View Post
    Speaking personally, my MJ is much more musical than my WCS, but then that's probably due to the different experience levels I have in the two dances. However, I imagine that this is the case for many (or even most?) MJ dancers who have turned to WCS.
    My musicality in WCS is much better than my musicality in MJ.

    I think this is at least partially due to my WCS partners though. Pretty much all of them have had formal dance training with pro's and understand the structure of music much better than the typical MJ dancer does.

    I find it easier to play with music when I now my partner is listening for similar things (or even listening at all), and when there are a few definite rules regarding connection that we both adhere to. I don't get that nearly as often in MJ.

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    Re: Down beat and Upbeat

    It is true the influences of WCS or MJ within their own respective worlds will contribute to the level of musicality to be found. And yes there are some cool and not so cool examples of WCS musicality on YouTube but it is not just the top professionals who can bring great musicality on the dancefloor. As well as some great dancers in this country for which the list is growing if you dance on the social floors in America you can find dancers who will dance way above what the advanced MJers in this country will do.

    We have some great dancers in this country and I am sure that if more people had both the influences and opportunities in this country as there are in the States then things would be different. Also because of the structure of Swing and other dances the age spread is far greater. Go to events and their are families and there are competition divisions for juniors. There are scholarships for young Swing dancers and Swing is taught in college. For the foreseeable future MJ can't compete with that and because of that the level of freestyle will be alot lower.

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    Re: Down beat and Upbeat

    Quote Originally Posted by Geordieed View Post
    For the foreseeable future MJ can't compete with that and because of that the level of freestyle will be alot lower.
    This is the crux of course. There's a difference between potential and actual.

    There is sometimes (I feel) too much comparison on here of WCS as danced by Jordan and Tatiana (or any professional WCS couple seen on YouTube), and the local MJ freestyle down the road. That comparison makes no sense.

    MJ is bottom heavy, I.E. Populated by beginners in a larger ratio than any other dance I know, including WCS. This also tends to give people incorrect impressions of what MJ actually is. I sometimes feel some on here think all WCS dancers are born with perfect phrasing, smooth dancing and with a choreographed routine inherited from their Mum It's not like that of course, there are inexperienced and beginner WCS dancers who if you compared them with, I dunno, Phil and Yuko (sp?) on YouTube you might come to other conclusions about certain things. Context is crucial.

    So, as a dance, while I don't disgree that WCS leads MJ in the musicality stakes, I do not think it's by as much as some are making out. That's 'actual'.

    Potentially, well, it's open to argument of course, but putting aside choreographed routines and the fact that sometimes rules make things easier (I'm told ), musicality to me is about expression. And the more rules you have, the more your expression is limited. Therefore it's not too tortured a path to come to the conclusion that MJ has potentially more room for musicality than WCS given WCS has more rules (slot, triple step etc.). There is a reason that the top WCS'ers best choregraphed routines tend to blow a hole right through the rules of WCS

    I know in my case, the answer is 'lack of personal talent', but the big question is why has no one in MJ (truly) taken advantage of that yet ? What's holding us back ?
    Answers on a postcard please
    Last edited by TA Guy; 21st-August-2007 at 02:03 PM.

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    Re: Down beat and Upbeat

    Quote Originally Posted by TA Guy View Post
    This is the crux of course. There's a difference between potential and actual.

    There is sometimes (I feel) too much comparison on here of WCS as danced by Jordan and Tatiana (or any professional WCS couple seen on YouTube), and the local MJ freestyle down the road. That comparison makes no sense.

    So, as a dance, while I don't disgree that WCS leads MJ in the musicality stakes, I do not think it's by as much as some are making out. That's 'actual'.

    Potentially, well, it's open to argument of course, but putting aside choreographed routines and the fact that sometimes rules make things easier (I'm told ), musicality to me is about expression. And the more rules you have, the more your expression is limited. Therefore it's not too tortured a path to come to the conclusion that MJ has potentially more room for musicality than WCS given WCS has more rules (slot, triple step etc.). There is a reason that the top WCS'ers best choregraphed routines tend to blow a hole right through the rules of WCS

    I know in my case, the answer is 'lack of personal talent', but the big question is why has no one in MJ (truly) taken advantage of that yet ? What's holding us back ?
    Answers on a postcard please

    It is very true that you can't really compare MJ and WCS. The structures that I mentioned previously make a little unfair. I have only scrapped the surface on what there is to learn about WCS but when the journey took hold into total enthusiasm I would watch the routines and wonder what I was looking at compared to the structure that I was learning. Overtime it has made alot more sense. I have learnt what is the value of a triple step or patterns and the slot. Plus how does the dance fit or visa versa. I also asked for advice on how I could freestyle and make sense of the patterns I was learning. Just this month I took on a new concept that blows away alot of what I have learnt about the structure of WCS as applied to dancing one pattern after another. The depth of the dance means that the rules that you learn actually opens the dance up to more interpretation than I could ever imagine. It is because of the structure and knowledge that new things can be created. Having danced MJ for so long I know that MJ is not developed enough to go into the same places that WCS can.

    It is also a question of learning but like anything the more I learn then the more I realise I don't know. On top of that the more I learn the more I see in the routines and freestyle that previously escaped me. Now I see it and think absolute genius. Lord knows how much I am still not getting. Just last year I was lucky to sit on a lecture about WCS on a visit and felt so out of place. Dotted around the room were some of the pros that were competing in that very event.


    Because Jordan and Tatiana are so impressive and dynamic and they lead the dance in America and around the world we do get an impression of WCS. There are alot of other styles of WCS that we don't see on YouTube.


    As for rules or no rules I can only say the more skills and knowledge you have then the better equiped you will be to craft something even more amazing.

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    Re: Down beat and Upbeat

    Quote Originally Posted by robd View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames View Post
    Obviously, musicality is better in WCS than in MJ.
    Can't believe you've made such a sweeping generalisation DJ even though I am a big fan of WCS myself. Yes, some of the stuff on YouTube is great and the top Americans are fantastically musical but that's because they are very talented professionals who've been dancing for years. I will concede that the lower barriers to entry for MJ mean that there are possibly more people doing that style who are unable to dance in time (though this ability doesn't count as 'musicality' for me). I just don't think there's anything inherent within the dance styles that would support your statement above


    Quote Originally Posted by NZ Monkey View Post
    My musicality in WCS is much better than my musicality in MJ.
    (...)
    I think this is at least partially due to my WCS partners though.
    to throw my 2 pennies in...

    I think, as some have mentioned, that the fact that WCS is perceived as a more musical dance than MJ is purely due to the people who dance it, and what they have learnt. In WCS, emphasis is almost from the beginning on musicality, phrasing etc. We all drool in front of our computers for hours while watching the WCS pros on Youtube. And we all want to dance like that.

    Personally at this stage in my learning of both dances I see no reason whatsoever why MJ (or may be I should say an MJ dance) couldn't be as or more musical than the WCS JnJ we see on youtube.

    I haven't made up my mind yet as if the fact that there are more rules in WCS than MJ restricts freedom or opens up new horizons... From where I am in my WCS, those rules certainly don't hinder me trying to dance musically. It just requires a bit more 'planning' somehow, as I have to decide when I need to make the lead aware that I am ready for a new pattern (anchoring), whereas in MJ the connection is more continuous so I am (almost) always 'ready' for something new.

    However, and this might just be a reflection of my experience in both dances,
    the most musical dances I've had have been MJ (well, bluesy sort of MJ), but my average WCS dances are more musical than my average (by that I mean local) MJ dances. I think the reason for that is the expectation that I am encouraged to participate more in a WCS dance than an MJ dance (unless I am dancing with a very permissive lead), and the experience/ability of the average lead in both dances.

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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    Musicality in MJ vs WCS

    I've moved this thread from the "downbeat / upbeat thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Caro View Post
    I think, as some have mentioned, that the fact that WCS is perceived as a more musical dance than MJ is purely due to the people who dance it, and what they have learnt. In WCS, emphasis is almost from the beginning on musicality, phrasing etc.
    That's my understanding also - from what I've heard, WCS teaching is highly-oriented to musicality, in the same way that (for example) salsa teaching is oriented towards meeting the clave rhythm, or AT teaching is oriented towards technique and lead-and-follow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Caro View Post
    Personally at this stage in my learning of both dances I see no reason whatsoever why MJ (or may be I should say an MJ dance) couldn't be as or more musical than the WCS JnJ we see on youtube.
    Well, except in that if the teaching and dancing is more musicality-oriented, then surely we can say that the dance is more musicality-oriented? The "dance" doesn't exist in isolation - ultimately it describes the people who are doing it. At least, that's the way I see it...

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    Re: Musicality in MJ vs WCS

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJames View Post
    Well, except in that if the teaching and dancing is more musicality-oriented, then surely we can say that the dance is more musicality-oriented? The "dance" doesn't exist in isolation - ultimately it describes the people who are doing it. At least, that's the way I see it...
    of course, at the end, a dance style is represented by the people who dance it, so there's a good chance MJ will remain seen as way less musical a dance than WCS for a good while.

    However, as I practionner of both dances myself (funny how I still can't bring me to call myself a dancer), I don't dance MJ any less musically than I dance WCS - provided I'm not yanked around by a very controlling MJ lead, that is.

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    Re: Musicality in MJ vs WCS

    I don't dance MJ any less musically than I dance WCS - provided I'm not yanked around by a very controlling MJ lead, that is.


    I agree 100% its the dancers, there connection and the music, that dictate musicallity
    not the dance style

    Last edited by ducasi; 23rd-August-2007 at 10:57 PM. Reason: fix quote

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    Senior Member rubyred's Avatar
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    Re: Musicality in MJ vs WCS

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Cool View Post


    I agree 100% its the dancers, there connection and the music, that dictate musicallity
    not the dance style


    There has to be connection between the dancers,they have to tell a story, the leader has to feel the music and make the follower look good. The follower must submit totally and be taken into the moment, the follower or the leader has to add that magic when there is a break or a beat that is too good to miss. Dance styles, well I think most lend themselves to the leader to be able to complete all of the above.

    As a newbie to ballroom though at this stage in my education ,I find it a bit difficult to fully appreciate ''freestyle'' in ballroom, most of the teaching is about learning sequences of moves and a routine to get you around the floor. However now I have become a bit more adept at the rumba and the cha cha I can see how these styles can be lead with the leader having full conncection and musciality, even if the pattern I do with my dance partner is structured it is possible to take the music and make it your own.

    I am in full agreement that irrespective of dance style it is the magic, the passion, the fun, the story and the connection between the dancers that is so important.
    if you love the life you live then you'll get a lot more done

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