This is part 2 of a Musicality series.
Mulling over the topic of musicality brought back a memory of an incident that happened years ago during a salsa class that I taught On1. While teaching a class, I informed the students that I was going to change the format and teach them On2. The students became noticeably nervous and quit the class. I explained that dancing On2 was going to help them become better salsa dancers and have the tools to dance with MORE people.
Regardless of what I told them, they ALL quit (except for 1 of them).
Today, that one student is perceived as one of the better if not the BEST female Salsa dancer in Kansas City.
Most recently, I noticed a former student working on dancing On2 at the club. We talked and he said, “Man, I have to dance On2. The music dictates it.” The question, then, becomes Does It Make YOU a Better Dancer if You Can Dance On2?
The answer is simple … Yes! However, this has NOTHING to do with ego, arrogance or being a snob. Please allow me to explain…
Dancers that dance On2 are better because they have developed their Musical & Physical Intelligence.
Check out this video with GRISELLE PONCE and Jayson Molina …
I first heard this explanation many years ago in NYC where I started my Salsa On2 experience. Dancing On2 can be complicated because it REQUIRES us to listen to the music. Much too often, people dance OFF BEAT and explain it as “I am just having fun” — Ever heard people say that? I have!!!! I, myself, am reminded of when I used to say that. Wow! That was a long time ago.
Now, I WAS just having fun but that fun got old because I ran out of “stuff” to do – my creativity just wasn’t there anymore. My creativity was limited because my understanding was limited. It all seemed the same and started to get boring.
Dancers that dance On2 have no choice but to understand music and develop an ear for it. They understand and thus interpret music better. It doesn’t come easy but the benefits are totally enormous. They must develop MUSICAL INTELLIGENCE to dance in sync with the musicians. Musical Intelligence is in essence having solid understanding of what each instrument is doing in a band and how these come together. Steven Tirpak once said that he was “amazed at how many On1 dancers didn’t know where the 2nd beat was in a musical phrase and yet, it was right next door. Makes you wonder how well they (On1 dancers) understood dancing to the Montuno rhythms of the piano or the cow bell.”
He makes a good point. On1 dancers listen for the 1st beat in the musical phrase. The beginning is also the end of where the listening stops and so does the understanding and the creativity.
On the physical side, dancers On2 are motivated to do more. It goes WAY BEYOND the turn pattern. The development of MUSICAL intelligence becomes the driving force for PHYSICAL intelligence. On2 dancers seek more footwork, body movement and improvisational tools for them to interpret the music when dancing solo or in a partnership.
The combination of the two (Musical & Physical) develops the “CREATIVE” side of the dancer. They hear music and want to dance to specific musical phrases by instruments beyond the TUMBAO rhythm. They find that FUN to do. And guess what? IT NEVER GETS OLD!!! Why?
When the Musical Intelligence and the Physical Intelligence are in sync, the creative juices begin to flow and a dancer finds that magical moment on the dance floor. In other words, the creative side of the dancer has been unleashed and that force is powerful and unstoppable. It is this that creates that motivation to work on their game; to dance better; to interpret better; to connect better with the band; to communicate in ‘code’ with the musicians; to explore more; to express more — to dance more.
I realize some folks might take this perspective as snobbish or an attack on dancers that just dance On1. It is neither!!! I teach On1. I value On1 but realize that there is so much more out there. I know because I have experience it and hope the same for others that ask, ‘Is there more out there?”
I also realize that some might try to be very “political” and say things like: “it doesn’t matter if you dance on blah, blah, blah.” Even so, I write this with the hope of sharing a different perspective that might resonate with those that seek a bit more in their dancing.
Hope this helps explain dancing On2 and look forward to seeing all of you on the dance floor.
Josh Hernandez | www.KCSalsa.com | 913.219.0500