Accents in the Chorus

West Coast Swing Online Musicality & Timing

As we continue dancing to Maroon 5’s song Maps, we’re discovering ways to express the layers of music within a song. Last week, we turned up the energy for the chorus. Now we’re going to dive into the details of the chorus.

Pop music is usually phrased in 32-beat paragraphs, but it’s also common for the chorus of the song to last for two of those paragraphs. Maps does that, so we want a way to change up our dancing within those 64 beats. Listen through the chorus with the goal of picking out some details in the music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrP1o6DV5-g

What did you hear? The newest element in the song is the vocals: the rhythm of the words has changed substantially from the verses. So, let’s figure out how to so that layer of music. We are dancing big and loud because the chorus has lots of energy, so we want to find moments of contrast within the vocals. One thing that stands out is that there is a draw on the first beat of each minor phrase:

…but I wonder
Where were you, when I was at my worst, down on my
Knees, and you said you had my back, so I wonder
Where were you, all the roads you took came back to
Me, so I’m following the map that leads to
You

As you are dancing, show off those draws by changing your footwork. Where possible, take out a triple and replace it with a step-drag the free foot in for the first two beats of each minor phrase. If you have a walk walk on those beats, attack the first step and make the second step quieter so the audience can see the emphasis on the vocal inflection.

Practice dancing to the chorus and adapting your footwork to show these draws. As you get comfortable, you can also start to experiment with adding dimensions to the draws. For instance, if you are rotating during those two beats (like in counts 3&4 of a side pass), practice milking that rotation through your draw. If you are traveling linearly, can you use a controlled level change through the entire draw to enhance the gathering action? Find what motions work for you!

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