First, I want to say a HUGE shout out to all of you who commented and liked my last blog post about counting music! Please keep commenting and asking questions afterwards as I am totally enjoy the conversations we’re having!! One ballet teacher I was chatting with, Paul Chambers, (a dancer from days past at the Alberta Ballet and now a teacher in the Alberta Ballet School) brought up a question that he’s always been a little confused by.. How do I know what I want when I want something quick and on a 3 count rhythm? Do I want a quick 3/4? Or, do I want a 6/8? They can be the exact same tempo!
Well, Paul, you got me thinking about it and I’m ready for you! Let’s talk about the 6/8 for a second. Consider jumping to a 6/8 for a second, when do you land? One the 1 count, right? If you asked children to do galops from the corner, they would land on the beat and be in the air on the ‘&a’ of the count. (1&a2&a). A circular movement that is down on the 1. Tarantellas are a stark example of being down on the pulse. Jigs have a lighter feeling, but still, as a child to skip or move to it, and they’ll be on the ground on the strongest pulse of the music.
Your standard 3/4 on the other hand, being down on the ‘1’ is not nearly always the case! Quite often a teacher’s goal in an exercise is to land/plie on the ‘&’, plie/jump on the ‘a’ and be in the air on the 1! That would never happen in a 6/8.
The real question you should be asking yourself is; do I want my dancers to be up or down on the 1?
Ultimately, You’ve got decide where you want your dancers to be on the strong 1 beat/count, then you should have a pretty good idea which one you want!
P.S. You might also need to consider what kind of 3/4 you want.. perhaps one with an anacrusis (or a pick up note; ‘&a1’ or ‘a1’), a melody that starts just before 1, setting your dancers up to be in the air on the 1.. more on that in the future!