Pietro Braga – In Dancesport the Starting Point is the Music | The Teacher’s Corner
Music and dancing – the need to have both in my life
I started dancing when I was almost 15 years old and from the very first moment, I had the ambition to learn everything that could improve my dancing skills.
I was a music man and loved rhythm. My mind moved along with it. I played music and I continued to dance and do music at the same time. The two of them were always connected, like sisters with two different fathers. And it never went through my mind the idea that I could give up on either of them. So I kept up with my music career doing the conservatory and in the meantime, I still managed to compete.
I’ve had a pretty long career and I’ve tried a lot of things in my life.
The start of my dancing career
Some people mistake me for being Spanish because I organize big events in Madrid. But actually I’m Italian and I live in Aprilia. Digging deeper into the past, you have to know that the father of William Pino was my very first teacher. I started teaching by helping him when I was only 16-17 years old.
First I taught social dance. That’s how I learned how to move my feet for my students, how to educate others. Later on, I opened my own school and then I joined the Federation. Now I work for the WDSF Academy to help prepare the judging system – I educate all the judges in the music aspect.
The movement of the body
To better my teaching skills I studied biomechanics. When I finally studied and analyzed how the body moves naturally I had a revelation. I could see all the steps in a whole new light. Also, in this case, music mixes perfectly with the action.
Biomechanics teaches you that the same action cannot be applied by everybody because the morphology of the body is totally different. Imitating the same action won’t work as there are different interpretations of it. You have to create a personalized mechanic and combine it with music, partnering skills and the ability of each dancer.
I analyze biomechanics in these simple actions:
- how the dancer walks,
- how they coordinate their body weight,
- how their feet react to the mechanic and how is their rotation.
When it comes to dancing, now I’m at that point in my life where I know exactly what I want from a couple. And what is that exactly, you might ask?
Musicality and technique
Well, these days my focus is especially on musicality, more specifically – music in the rhythm system. And musicality is sensibility, knowledge, or talent to create and perceive. You can work on musicality and if you’re a natural at it you can refine it continuously.
But honestly, musicality is definitely not enough for the big league if you don’t know technique. Everything moves around technique in dancesport. And it’s also important how you put music and technique together, how they combine. This is my best point because learning music helped me change many technique directions. They simply can’t do one without the other.
I got my great technique from England, and we all know that back in the day most dancers were from there.
Many couples dance well technically. They believe they’re listening to the rhythm but a lot of the times there’s just fast dancing between the beginning and the end of a song. It takes time to coordinate the movement of the body with the time of music. If you are able to translate the way you listen to music on the move, you are getting there. There’s more to musicality than just counting beats.
As a judge, when I look at dance couples the main things I expect to see are: a nice shape, a good timing, great technique, meaning elegant coordination. As the finals get closer the criteria also thicken and other elements come into the picture:
- moving to the music,
- the partnering skills,
- the choreography,
- the presentation.
A lot of dancers feel that the technique has an uncomfortable and strange element to it. They don’t really understand why is that exactly. And it’s after many years of experience, that I understood that. I was only thinking about technique, I used my body only to show how I dance to the music. So I changed my perspective, and now the starting point is the music and I analyze which technique to combine with it. And that’s what I keep repeating that in my lectures.
If you want to hear the whole story of Pietro Braga and his approach on musicality in dancing you can listen to his interview: Pietro Braga: Musicality, Biomechanics and Why Knowledge is Experience