Rhythm's Gonna Get You!

The Marriage of Global Music and Dance

Whether you dance or not, we all know that three-dimensional feeling we get when we hear music from a live band versus the two-dimensional blare played through speakers: the experience of receiving the music at the very moment it is being created is organic and deeply personal. Suddenly, the listener is fully immersed in the creation of sound, melody, and rhythm as it is actually happening. The whole body feels the vibrations, and the effect is organic and can even be transcendent. Why would people pay money and travel to see live performances of their favorite bands, when they can just listen at home? Here is a personal example: For decades, this blogger listened to Cher and knew all of her songs by heart. But the moment I saw her onstage from the third row, the effect was so intimate that tears flowed freely, and I could not stop dancing.

The effect of live music is not lost to the dancer. Likewise, musicians can not only play off of each other in a live setting; they can also improvise with and reflect the expression of the dancers. While many performances--from children’s dance recitals to professional performing arts center productions--feature beautiful choreography, costumes, and lighting with pre-recorded music, a dance production set to live music or a live concert with dancers has an organic feel that can have a significant positive impact on the audience, dancers, and musicians alike. In the international dance and music worlds, this effect is well documented.

A study done in 2018 indicated that head movements by concert-goers were markedly greater than those listening to a recorded version of the same music. A Berkeley paper showed that musicians, dancers, and audience members alike find that being together in the same space and sharing the same moments of real-time expression results a sense of connection that is significantly bonding. Traditional music and dance were, across the world, created as a way to bring a community together, to express emotions in times of celebration or hardship through the merging of movement, melody, and rhythm. According to the National Institutes of Health: “Conjoining music, dance and ritual language within an event that addresses the existential concerns of the community is the most universally valued of musical activities. Owing to the entrainment of human bodies in a group, a musical event that is a ceremony or a ritual… necessarily becomes an enhancer of community spirit.”

On Sunday, May 21, the World Music band Kafkasso will be joining with Hip Expressions dancers from many traditions to present “The Art of Danse Orientale.” This blogger had the opportunity to interview some of the performers and ask them the following prompt: “How do the elements of melody, rhythm, and dance merge? What special meaning does this combination of elements mean for you?”

Here’s what they shared:

“Rhythm, melody, and dance are all vital expressions of the same vibrant, living, breathing, evolving organism like the roots, trunk, and leaves of an awe inspiring and magnificent tree.” –Raihan Alam, World Percussionist and Didgeridoo Player

“For me melody, rhythm and dance are the perfect combination to create a space in time of pure magic and magnetism, a non-verbal communication that is understood by all no matter the cultural background or spoken language. Is the expression of the soul through movement and music.” –Vanessa Cerallo, International Flamenco Dancer

“Rhythms, melodies and, vibrations are the essential pillars of universal language and, the existence of any living being . Once these elements are combined in harmony within space and time expressions of poetry in motion are created . A dancer consumes all the sounds of these elements to be the conductor and orchestrator of patterns , emotions and expressions in a physical form in order to present it as a visual treat to the audience.” –Ali Amidi, World Percussionist

“Melody, rhythm, and dance mean a perfect combination of, soul, texture, and passion. They complement each other creating magic. A magic that moves people. A magic that makes people closer.” –Omaris Saneaux, International Belly Dancer

Come and experience the magic of rhythm, melody and movement for yourself this Sunday, May 21 at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg: https://mypalladium.org/events/kafkasso-show