A phrase by any other name…

Oftentimes when we are taught musicality and phrasing, we are taught, appropriately, to mark the phrase change. The biggest accent is on the one of a new phrase and we strive to reflect that in our dancing.

But there’s another part to phrasing: the fact that phrases are different. A verse is different from the chorus, and the chorus from a pre-chorus, and all of the above from the intro. Phrases differ in their chord progressions, their melodies, and their lyrical rhythms, but the difference most notable for dancing is the energy level, indicated by the volume and complexity – and sometimes emotion or expressiveness – of the music. If we are to really phrase our dancing with the music, we should dance each of these phrases differently.

Phrasing our dance means thinking about how the energy and feel of our dancing matches the energy and feel of the song. This is reflected in our choice of patterns and styling, the complexity of our movements, the size and pace of our dancing, and the overall dynamic we create with our partner. As the song changes, so should our dance.

And if we do dance these phrases differently, we create a dynamic and growing dance, riding the rollercoaster of energy that good songs have. If we don’t, we miss an opportunity to be musical, to create variation in our dance, and to engage our partners on a different level.

How much do you pay attention to making one phrase feel different from another in your dancing? How much do you just focus on the phrase change? Have you ever been taught how to phrase in the way described above? Teachers, do you work with your students on this level of musicality, either hearing the music in this way or how to dance to it in this way?

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