Dancemax Letter #3, June 18, 2000
"a" and "&"
Hunh! sounds a little facetious, doesn't it? Not really. When we split a beat
and add an extra step, this is commonly referred to as "syncopation". This
"split beat" can be danced as "a" or "&". The beat value of "a" is ¼ while "&"
represents ½ beat. It is also very important to remember that *"a" or "&"
belongs to the beat that is before and not after. Some examples will clarify
In my last letter, I promised that we will apply this concept to Samba, but
then I thought it would be too complicated, so we will discuss cha cha cha and
rumba. In the mean time I suggest that we start studying different rhythms in
Samba which involve, 1, ½, ¼, ¾ beats and are also counted in slows and quicks.
Cha Cha Cha: Conventionally in cha cha we break on 2, in other words we start the forward or back basic on 2nd beat of music. We therefore count 2 3 4 & 1, 2 3 4 & 1. Beat value therefore is 1 1 ½ ½ 1. In other words the 4th beat in music is the split beat and we syncopate 4&. Then we take the 1st beat of next bar of music and finish our basic on 1. It is there fore obvious that "one" is the most accented beat and we should express this in our dancing. Try counting cha cha as SSQQS SSQQS which is the same thing as 234&1, 234&1
At gold level we can play with more syncopation. Cuban Breaks are danced 2&3&4&1 either on the right or left foot. Split Cuban Breaks are danced 2&3, 4&1 on left and right (or vice versa) feet. Some teachers call this as syncopated New York step when danced from promenade position (PP) to counter promenade position (CPP). I don't know any syllabus cha cha figure in which we apply "a" which is ¼ beat.
This is enough for now and we will do rumba next visit.
Bit of Information: Many people didn't know about Blackpool. I guess all I know is that Blackpool is a small holiday (resort) community in north of England or Scotland. There is a famous Tower in Town The town is famous for British Open Championships where all the best from the world and compete in last week of May each year. The Dance festival lasts for a whole week. As I indicated in last letter that American Dancers are showing their impact more and more. Mr. Jonathan Wilkins and his partner Ekterina Demidoava were semi finalists in the Modern. I am researching the American involvement or any other information anybody can provide, will be greatly appreciated... Happy dancing... Max
Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.