In the pocket of the music

25th October 2021 | Daily Life, Musings | 3 comments

The autumn season of Strictly Come Dancing is under way and this year the judges seem inclined to give us a bit more insight into what they are looking for. I have enjoyed learning more about posture, weight, inside edges, head position, arm extensions, ‘spotting’ ( a technique to stop yourself getting giddy when spinning), being aware of one’s partner even when they are not in one’s sightline, and so on.

I always enjoy it when judges speak about musicality because of the different ways they do it. Sometimes they say that one dancer ‘is musical’, while another ‘has musicality’. They talk about being ‘on the beat’ and dancing ‘to the beat’. They talk about staying with the beat and listening to the music.

On Saturday night, judge Shirley Ballas told one contestant that he was ‘in the pocket of the music’. This I particularly liked. In this image, it was obvious that the music must be the leader, while the dancer is effortlessly carried along.

When judges speaks of keeping to the beat or listening to the music, there’s just a suggestion (conveyed by that little word ‘to’) that the dancer and the music are separate things. It’s as if the dancer perceives the music as being something outside themselves, something they must attempt to glue themselves on to. As it happens, this year’s remaining dancers are all very musical, but in previous years we’ve often seen dancers reaching for the beat as though it were something distant.

Being ‘in the pocket of the music’ conveys the idea that dancer and music are combined. When it happens, this is easy to see. No longer does one feel that the dancer is striving to keep to the beat. Instead it feels as if the dancer is expressing the beat.  Subtle distinctions, but we know them when we see them.

3 Comments

  1. Mary Cohen

    I too like the idea of being ‘In the pocket of the music’. Must try it as an alternative to ‘inhabiting’ the music.

    Reply
  2. Rhonda Rizzo

    ” No longer does one feel that the dancer is striving to keep to the beat. Instead it feels as if the dancer is expressing the beat.”–brilliantly expressed! Thank you.

    Reply
    • Susan Tomes

      Thank you Rhonda! And nice to meet you, even in this remote way.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Concertos from long ago

Concertos from long ago

I was looking through the list of candidates for a concerto competition recently and was struck by the list of pieces they were...

read more
Best reads of the year

Best reads of the year

A reader has asked me to specify my favourite books of the year. I keep a note in my diary of the books I read, and this year I read...

read more