Musicality is one of the best aspects of Modern Jive - we can dance to the widest range of music from slow to fast, latest chart hits to retro, rock to acoustic, and even 6/8 (Waltz) time signature music!

Musicality is sometimes known as dancing outside the moves and allows us to interact/play with various aspects and properties of a song such as:

  • Basic Timing
  • Genre, Mood, Melody, Lyrics
  • Phrasing, Breaks and highlights
  • Bridges / middle 8's

We can group all these aspects into one and simply say "The music made me do it" to explain why we might dance to a particular song in a particular way.

In fact there's so much to Musicality that we need two workshops to cover it:

The Music Made Me Do It - Part 1. Essential Musicality

Okay, so you know plenty of moves but you can't seem to put them into my freestyle or they don't fit in with the music. Sound familiar? This workshop addresses more challenging aspects of freestyle and blending moves to make the whole dance more exciting.

This workshop really gets to the essence of dancing. Yes leaders, musicality is what the follows really want when they dance with you!! We'll cover tips and tricks to help you and your partner get the most out of every song.

This is one of our Four Foundation Workshops. We recommend all dancers attend these workshops at least once during their time with us. In fact we think the content of each workshop is so important that dancers who have already attended one of these workshops can attend the same workshop again at a discounted rate (regardless of whether previously they led or followed).

Modern Jive Timing

Modern Jive is usually danced to music with a 4/4 time signature - nearly all pop music has this time signature and is also known as common time.

There are 4 beats to bar and at the fundamental level we step on each beat. As we get more advanced we can change the footwork so long as we are aware of the underlying timing. There are usally 4 bars in a phrase (see the music glossary for more information).

At class, we introduce a recommended foot work in the improvers review after the beginner class:

  • Leaders initiate with the right foot.
  • Followers initiate with the left foot.
Counting InPhrase
get ready!
1st step^
1st Bar
^2nd step
2nd Bar
3rd Bar
4th Bar

Upbeats and downbeats - the last beat of a previous bar is an upbeat and the first beat of a bar is a downbeat.

From the table above you'll notice that:

  • upbeats correspond to the &'s and downbeats correspond to the numbers.
  • we take our first step on the &.
  • Leaders step with their left foot on the numbers.
  • Followers step with their right foot on the numbers.

A Small Difference Has a BIG Effect

Dancing is defined as moving to music, if you're not in time with the music you may as well turn the music off.

If you're out of time even by a small amount it can feel pretty bad and for some sensitive people it's like being sea sick because you ear hears one tempo but your body is being lead at a different tempo (sea sickness arises from the contradiction of the eyes telling the brain that the body is stationary but the inner ear is sensing movement).

Listen to the two recordings:

While the sound quality may not be perfect, hopefully you can tell there's a difference: the first sample is Moves Like Jagger played normally; the second one comprises two clips of Moves Like Jagger being played at the same time except that one of them has been speeded up by 5%. It sounds awful and dancing out of time is the dance equivalent of nails being dragged down a blackboard!

In this workshop we'll help you get in time with the music and save you and your partner from being sick.

Who Is This For?

This workshop is for:

  • Beginners who have been attending the improvers review (if you are unsure please speak to one of our teachers)
  • Intermediate dancers
  • Experienced dancers developing both roles (lead and follow)

Points to bear in mind:

  • You do not need a partner to book a place on this workshop as we aim to match up leads and follows.
  • You should attend Part 1 Essential Musicality before attending Part 2 Ultimate Musicality.


The workshop is usually taught by Deb and Matt - we are well known in NZ as a competition couple who really get into the music when we dance / compete. We've won musicality related categories more than anyone else and as a couple we're unbeaten!

Essential Musicality Workshop Details

  • Date: Sunday, 9 June 2019
  • Start Time: 3:15 PM
  • Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cost: see pricing and credits
  • Venue: Avonhead School

Please aim to arrive before the scheduled start time to warm up and get ready. Because we aim to have even numbers arriving late impacts negatively on your fellow attendees.


Most workshops will follow a standard pricing. Occasionally we'll have guest teachers and the length of the workshops may be different, in which case the pricing may differ.

If a Tea Dance is held on the same weekend as a workshop then entry is free in which case we'd really appreciate it if you could contribute a small plate to share at the Tea Dance.

Venue: Avonhead School

  • 55 Avonhead Road, Avonhead, Christchurch
  • The school is located on Avonhead Road just up from Yaldhurst Road.
  • There is some parking near the hall within the school as well as plenty of street parking nearby.
  • The entrance to the hall is at the front of the building near the road.

Testimonials from previous workshops

Loved it! I learned heaps about listening and responding. ... it did build confidence. ... Thank you. If you held it again next week, I would come again and tell every leader to attend!

It pushed my boundaries and made me think outside the square (always a good thing)

The workshop was great :), I really enjoyed how you covered so much stuff both music, timing, interpretation and style. It was really good and well worthwhile.

I loved the workshop, it was extremely well presented as always by Matt who is so entertaining. It was also very informative, and well demonstrated with the graphs and the songs taped on top of each other. I was able to understand what is required to improve timing, understand the idea of style and performance rather than the treadmill of move after move, and I also gained some confidence in taking risks to try new things that I'm not immediately comfortable with.

I really enjoyed this workshop as I need to work on this area when dancing. There was not too much material/information squeezed into the time frame which was great. ... thanks ... for a very enjoyable/ fun workshop.