I’m James Joseph–call me Jim–an author and rhythm coach. I write how-to books. When I find a simple and clever way to learn something new, I like to write about it.
I first cracked the code to music and dance in my 2010 book, Every Man’s Survival Guide to Ballroom Dancing. I went deeper into music in my 2018 book, Hear the Beat, Feel the Music: Count, Clap and Tap Your Way to Remarkable Rhythm.
I used to be rhythmically challenged. Even though I loved music, I always felt like an outsider. I wanted to get more comfortable with music but I didn’t want to become a musician or a music geek who could name every Rolling Stones album. Heck, I just wanted to tap my foot at a concert without feeling self-conscious. And I wanted to lose my fear of the dance floor. But there’s no “How to Get Rhythm” class offered at schools or dance studios (I repeat: you won’t learn music in a dance class). So I had to learn it on my own.
I followed the path of dance choreographers, not musicians who learn music theory. I’ve now trained for more than 20 years under Swing Dance Hall of Fame member Skippy Blair. And I’m now a GSDTA certified dance instructor.
My mission is to teach people how to hear the beat of music, discover their natural rhythm and begin moving to music. I believe anybody can become more rhythmic and, in the process, enjoy music more. (Scientific studies have shown that humans have a natural connection to music.)
My specialty is helping those who are rhythmically challenged–those who “ain’t got no rhythm.” I can also help those who need a better connection to music like dance fitness instructors, deejays, musicians, singers and dancers (from partner dancing, like swing and salsa, to ballet to club dancing).
Funny thing, despite my website address—ihatetodance.com—I now embrace the dance floor. The Wall Street Journal even interviewed me for a piece they did on dance, “Learn to Dance at Social Events” (I’m in several paragraphs in the middle of the piece–whenyou may need a subscription).
I used to be the guy who freaked out when confronted by a dance floor. Seriously. But I’m now so comfortable dancing that I danced for charity in my town’s local version of “Dancing with the Stars” (note that my partner had never danced before).
When I was younger, I was intrigued–and challenged–when I watched macho male actors dance in the movies (even Humphrey Bogart danced with Ingrid Bergman for a few seconds in Casablanca). I would watch James Bond movies as a kid in the 1960s and 1970s. I would think: James Bond—the manliest of men–can dance, why can’t I? I was determined to become an all-around, competent, social dancer who, like James Bond, could handle any situation.
This became my goal, which I believe is an apt goal for anyone, man and woman, leader and follower:
To be able to walk onto any dance floor, from a wedding to a nightclub to a New Year’s Eve ball to a cruise to a concert, and perform an admirable dance, with any partner, to any music, with confidence and grace.
If you have a question, throw me an email – email@example.com
Photo by Lan Bui (top photo)
12 Replies to “About”
I counted mini phrase of a song. and i counted major phrase of a song. i could be able to identify those. i counted ‘could i have this dance’ song and when i count i met 3 extra beats between 2 major phrases. what is that? is it mini phrase or something els?
Those are simply “extra beats.” Music varies in difficulty with regards to dancing (and some music is just not dance music). Easy music has a simple structure, which would mean simple phrasing and no extra beats. Harder music will have things like extra beats, mixed phrasing (eg, both 32-beat and 48-beat phrases), faster tempo, etc. In the case of 3 extra beats in a waltz, I’d simply call that an “extra measure.” When you teach you should use easy music. If you DJ music at a social dance for beginners, again, pick easy music.
I have asked some questions from you and you had answered well. I have another small thing to clarify. According to your definition double rhythm is two weight changes in two beats. That means in the first two beat you change the weight twice. When it comes to waltz, it has 3 beats for a bar. In the waltz we weight change three times in a bar. That means in the first two beats we change our weight twice. After that we have one beat remaining in the first bar. If we take first beat of the second bar then we have again two beats. Then we change our weight two times on two beats.
Is it correct ?
If it is correct why waltz can’t consider as a slow dance. (waltz tempo is 84 bpm.)
This is only my question. Want to be clear. Please help me.
Your attempt to understand waltz by using 2-beat dance rhythms is incorrect. 2-beat dance rhythms are only for music that’s structured in sets of 8. Virtually all dance music is structured in sets of 8. Waltz, the only exception, is structured in sets of 6 and it uses 3-beat dance rhythms (a set of 6 has two 3-beat dance rhythms). If you have my book, which I think you do, I talk about this on page 74. (In music theory terms, waltz is 3/4 time, all other dance music is mostly in 4/4 time.)
You ask: “Why can’t waltz be considered a slow dance?” My question to you: Is there some reason why you need to officially call a particular waltz a slow dance? The problem is that the definition of a slow dance is not set in stone. Slow dancing is not a formally recognized dance so it’s not easily defined, nor is there a widely accepted curriculum. It’s kind of like the old saying from a U.S. Supreme Court Justice when he couldn’t define pornography and said, “I know it when I see it.” People who know nothing about dance–people who couldn’t tell the difference between a rumba and a merrangue–probably know a slow dance when they see.
As I suggested in my earlier comment, if a couple were dancing to slow waltz music, particularly something like a romantic ballad, and the couple had a close embrace (no daylight between their bodies), and if they stylized it in a romantic way, I’m guessing most people would call it–correctly or incorrectly–a slow dance. If this were at, say, a wedding, the fact that it’s a waltz may not be relevant as I’m guessing most guests could not identify waltz music so they would not even know the couple was dancing a waltz.
It sounds like you have a specific song you’re working on. What’s the name of the song? Even better, is there a version of it on youtube so everyone can listen to the same arrangement for free?
What a lovely book you have written. I learn lot of things from you. I could be able to sort out lot of doubts. I have few question.
What is the meaning of Slow dance?
Is Waltz a slow dance?
Is there a Basic step for slow dance?
What is the beat range for slow dance?
Thank you for the nice comment. Let me try to answer your questions:
1) What is the meaning of slow dance?
I think you’re asking for a definition. It’s not a well-defined dance but, at the simplest level, it’s using single rhythm (eg, STEP HOLD) and double rhythm (eg, STEP STEP) to music with a slow tempo. Click on this link to see the free chapter on slow dancing in my website.
2) Is waltz a slow dance?
Based on the definition above I would say no, but if a couple were dancing to slow waltz music with a close embrace, it might look like a slow dance.
3) Is there a basic step for slow dance?
Teachers will vary on that. My suggestion is to use the 8-count basic side step, which is double–single–double–single. One verbal call you could use is: STEP STEP–STEP HOLD–STEP STEP–STEP HOLD. Click on this Freebie Video link to see me demonstrate it in a video clip. Scroll down to the video titled, “Page 103 – The Side Step.”
4) What is the beat range for slow dance?
This is more complex than it seems. Tempo, or relative tempo like the word “slow,” is subjective. What is slow tempo for me may feel medium tempo to you. And it’s on a song-by-song basis, which means a song that makes me want to slow dance may make some one else want to swing dance or foxtrot. At the moment, I guess I don’t have a good answer but, for me, something around 100 beats per minute or below is where I’m probably thinking about doing a slow dance. (Actually, in my case, I’m thinking about doing a blues dance, which I sometimes do to music faster than 100 bpm–again, it’s complex.)
Have you looked at blues dancing? I see it as the contemporary manifestation of slow dancing. It’s sort of a cross between slow dancing, foxtrot and maybe some swing, and it’s highly improvisational. Search goolge and youtube for “blues dancing.” It’s gaining popularity. Click on this link for a recent piece by National Public Radio on blues dancing.
I thoroughly loved your book and want to talk about it. Get in touch with me
by telephoning me at “954 984 ****”. Send me your telephone number. You write very well and I enjoyed everything you had to say.
Information sounds so great, can you buy a dvd or video of the music and dance information.
IF YOU EVER SAW ME DANCE YOU WOULD KNOW WYATT HURTS !
I DO THE TWO LEFT FEET SHUFFLE ! I LOOK LIKE I,M TRYING TO PUT OUT A FIRE WHEN I BOOGIE AND I HAVE A HARD TIME COUNTING TO FOUR WHEN I DO THE TWO STEP . THE ONE AND ONLY TIME I DID DANCE GOOD WAS WHEN I WAS TO DRUNK TO DRIVE .
HOWEVER IT WAS NICE TO MEET YOU AT THE FIRE MANS BALL , IF ONLY THERE’D BEEN A FIRE MAYBE I WOULD OF OUT SHINED YOU ?
what a great book! is it still in writing? I want more for sure, I’ll be the first to buy it if it’s ever published
oh my word, finally, someone who understands!
i am age 50, going into my sixth year of private lessons, and it is SUCH a shame
that i look so lousy on the dance floor after all the money i have spent.
the worst is that i LOVE to dance, so like a fool, i don’t give up. i just keep
changing teachers. whenever my partner and i are out and about dancing, we
get great compliments because we look the part and dress the part; we also
dance great patterns and amalgamations. fortunately our “look” compensates,
so the better dancers are often overlooked, but “i” am the one who really knows
where the compliments should be paid.
the best way to explain it is with your Chapter Six comparison of disconnected
words in a sentence, and worse yet, disconnected letters. that is exactly how
i am rhythmically (sp) challenged- it seems like i am dyslexic with listening to music. my profession is teaching, so i am super
detail-oriented. i know i can get this if only i have a break through. i never realized this is a natural ability for dance teachers. i do know that my teachers are failing me.
i am going to keep reading and rereading your book. i think like a guy, having
had no sisters, and three brothers, so hopefully, God has blessed me with
divine intervention, otherwise, i will still look like a dancing fool! thanks for putting this book out here.
Thank you for putting this information together on the rythm and timing. I’ve been through your entire web book and find it to be incredibly clear and useful. I’ve been taking group lessons for two years with my wife and still consider myself “rythm challenged”. I’ve looked at a number of sites on the internet to try to find answers about dance timing and can even read music, but none of this helps. Your material is great, especially the tip about the slow steps being step hold and I’m beginning to think for the first time I may actually get this. Keep up the good work – Mark
PS are you going to post the info on Waltz timing?