pennsicdance: So, let's get this show on the road again

Vanessa Layne dagoura at MIT.EDU
Mon Mar 27 13:36:07 PST 2000

Filip asks:

> Do you mean, by this, the art of playing "with rhythm"? (not to be
> confused with keeping time)  

The class I envision is not really a "how to" workshop; it would be a
"these are the things which go into being a dance musician," (of which
playing with rhythm is clearly a priority :) "and a brief exploration
into each one."

I can help a musician get to that place -- but over the course of
months, not days.

> This is the one area i feel sca musicians
> are lacking the most.  Looking through your suggested classes, it
> seems that we might be in agreement that far too many musicians "play
> the notes" rather than play the music..or the dance. 

The difference between "playing the notes" and "playing the music" is
the difference between hopping and flying.  It is not that most
amateurs are obstinate, lazy or dense -- they're fledgelings.  It is
very non-obvious how you get from hopping to the flying.

I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend anyone interested in this
issue go read Scott McCloud's _Understanding Comics_ (really!)
chapter, um, 7, I think: "The Six Steps".  It is a tremendous analysis
of how artists and artistry develop.  I cannot recommend it highly
enough.  It blew my mind, and improved my art.  

> I wish i knew how to teach/explain it... 

Maybe you come to my class. :)

Seriously: I get the vibe from what you say (and from knowing you :)
that you conceive of the problem as an intellectual one, that it's a
matter of musicians knowing or not knowing something critical.  But
that's not how it works, any more than, say, meditation or juggling
are intellectual skills.  There may be an intellectual component, but
the whole is not something that can be imparted through explanation or
teaching (as modern Americans mean "teaching").  You can approach it
through words, but it's something you come to understand through
successive experiences.

Even "understand" is the wrong word.  When I was a very baby director,
a number of local dancers recommended that I go listen to local
contra-dance bands, to hear what they did.  Not terrible advice at all
-- but the problem wasn't that I didn't *understand* what a dance band
should sound like, it was that I wasn't clear *how* to do that, or get
a bunch of people to do that.

I think it's a lot more like attaining enlightenment. ;)

-- Tibicen
   tibicen at

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