Dancemax Letter #4, June 29, 2000
The Difference between "a" and "&".
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 this:
In the previous letters we discussed Jive, Swing and Cha Cha Cha. Let's talk Rumba for now and save Samba for later. In the above paragraph I indicated that when we split a beat and add an extra step, this is commonly referred to as syncopation. How about if we split the beat and do something else, like a body movement instead of adding a weight change? Sure why not. This helps us develop a better understanding of technique and body movement. In Rumba (International) we dance 3 weight changes and count 2,3, 41.
So how do we use & in Rumba. On count 2, weight is taken on to stepping foot and the knee quickly straightens out and "locks"? On the later ½ beat (&) the knee of the non-weight bearing leg bends and the hip of the supporting leg settles and moves softly to side (or side and slightly forward). Basically, the same thing happens on count 3 whether the step is forward or backward transfer of weight in place. On the 41 count the hip settles on later part of 1 and we can count this as 41&. This is then, the Basic Cuban Motion. Thus if we split these beats and use this "&" to accentuate cuban motion, the dance becomes more exotic. So try counting 2& 3& 41&. There are experts who can split the beat in 64 parts and will tell you 64 things you do to express yourself. I haven't gotten there yet.
At a higher level we can also add extra steps and create a syncopated rhythm, which is what they do in Blackpool. Please do not try syncopated rhythms with beginners or strangers. They must be practiced with a partner and then put to work.
We can also use & in rumba to accentuate the turning motion. For example when the lady goes forward in hockey stick, six steps to the figure. Close right foot to left foot on 2, left forward on 3, right foot forward on 41. Now left foot forward on 2 commence to turn left and then she can use 3 (step 5 of hockey stick) to step forward on right foot and make a sharp turn to left on &, ball ball flat on the right foot under her raised right arm. She will then step back on left foot to complete this figure. So remember "Forward,…Forward…Back.
I know, it might sound very simplistic to some people but I always go back to my learning days and then I say to myself "what a slow learner". You think I know it now! Wait till I take my next coaching lesson.
Again I must emphasize the purpose of these short letters is to stimulate discussion and keep the "pot cooking".
Bally Team: Sorry guys I missed the last Sunday (out of town). I will see you Friday at 6 pm and Sunday 12 30.,happy dancing from…. Max
Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.