Musicality has a chance in our post-pandemic world.
A wonderful, maybe even radical change away from dancing-like-always-before is upon us. Musicality has a chance to grow because we have no milongas and the meaning of a warm embrace will be forever changed for the entire planet. Life seems more precious and fragile too. The good news is that we can take this time to feel the music in our body and come back to the milongas in the future with a new vision and return as better dancers, even better people.
Father and Dancing Son Advice
My 21-year old son misses dancing as I do. He is in Europe and very restricted in his movements. He wonders about being a very rusty dancer too. So some of the following ideas were from some father-son advice that I will allow you to eavesdrop in on.
There's a good reason that when we return to dancing, that we can be better than ever before. I told him to forget figures from his ballroom classes for now. "This is a time to put on music and just let your body move without a partner," I told him. "Let it be a time to find musicality--being attentive to how the music moves your body. Your body's physical response to music is what dance truly is." "Yeah, Dad," he said, "I have been doing that when no one is looking. I'll do it some more."
My son is a dancer-musician. I told him that I used to believe that being a musician helped me as a dancer. Perhaps. . . but upon reflection, it may be just the opposite. Being an improvisational dancer has helped me to be a better musician. I told him that if you add up all musicians of all time, dancers have instructed nearly all musicians to express themselves with better musicality. If you are aware of tango orchestras' histories, certainly you will see this as the path of the greatest orchestras: They played in front of dancers, and dancers' responses further helped them hone how the musicians would play. Jazz, Rock, and Tango all died as powerful cultural phenomena of their times when dancers started to sit down and merely watch.
Great Musicians Dance with no Partner
Great musicians dance with their instruments and not a partner. To demonstrate the musicality of a musician who dances, let me introduce you to a video of a musical prodigy, Alma Deutscher, when she was 12 years old. Here (in the video below) she is "dancing" behind the piano. Watch her body language change its "dance" too. I start the video below when she is moving her body to the orchestra's happier moments. She dances to the orchestrata. No partner. She is not playing. But then listen and watch her musical expression as the mood changes to a deeply moving piano dialogue with the orchestra. Is she crying? Perhaps. She may be holding back tears, but her fingers and body are crying. Body and soul: This is musicality. Innate. Internal. Expressed with competence. I weep every time I see this performance.
The awesome depth of human experience includes musical moments. Not being able to go out and dance is forcing us to be closer to the music in our solitude. I suggest being a minimalist and discover your musicality. The simple- but-musical tango walk helps with the nuances of expressing the music in one's body. Nearly all of the private lessons that I have taken in the last five years have been on the tango walk. Simplicity is complex.
Your search for musicality finds its greatest satisfaction when tears come to your eyes because of the beauty of art that you have shared with just yourself. Later it will become just one other person. Musicality is entirely internal, and a pandemic is giving you a chance to find the landscape of your heart and in that heart, your unique musically as only you can express it. In the end, doing this will be more than just learning to better at musicality as a dancer. This practice will be medicine for your soul.
Photo credit: https://www.thewrap.com/purpose-driven-content-time-pandemic-peter-samuelson/
This blog post is dedicated to my two awesome sons--both musicians and dancers, who in spite of being in their early twenties, turn to me as an older-and-wiser friend. Many fathers would love to be so blessed. It's a two-way street: We learn from each other and inspire each other.