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What Is Syncopation in Line Dancing?

Learn about syncopation in line dancing in this Howcast dance video with expert Robert Royston.


Hi, my name is Robert Royston. I'm a five time world champion of country dance, working with artists like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley. I really hope that you learn how to line dance and experience what it's like to move to America's music, and that's country music. So what is a syncopation. As we talk about syncopation, I'm gonna talk about it how it relates to a dancer, specifically line dancing, not necessarily how it relates to a musician. A syncopation by definition is the splitting of a beat, splitting up a beat, right? How it relates to a dancer is what we're doing in between the beats, on the beats, so on and so forth. So for instance, if I have two beats of music, well there's a beat and there's a beat, let's say that's beat one and that's beat two right? So that's one, two. So if I walked and I went one, two, that's me walking to straight time. But if I went one and two, if I took three steps within those two beats I'd be adding something in the middle there. So it'd be one and two, yea. So the fact that I've split that, right, and created something is a syncopation. I've split the beats up. I've added something within a certain beat structure. If I took that same syncopation or that same two beats, and I put one right there kind of splitting that beat a little bit, right? And another one right there kind of splitting that, so we're kind of like going, that beat is sharing another step and that beat is sharing another step and that's one, two, I might go, one and two and. So I try to in the same period of time, get more steps. So we have a beat, we have beat, right? There's a duration of time there, one two, one, two. If I walk it, one two, that's straight time. If I had any amount of steps in there, I'm creating a syncopation. So, as it relates to dancing, we can create syncopation's like this. You can change that up and add and do whatever you want to do with that, or it also relates to anything outside of the basic. So if I go one, two, three, four, and instead of doing that I went one, two, three, four, in dancing a lot of times we'd call that a syncopation as well cause we do the turn. We did a variation of what of what the basic is. Most the time it relates to beat structure, but sometimes you'll hear dance teachers say that it relates to a variation of step. One of the things as you learn to line dance is the line dance you've learned is one, two, three, four. So I started on my right, one, two, three, four, and I ended on my left. I could do whatever I want to do as long I start right and end left, I could create syncopation's. Now that's four steps, right? It's four beats, four steps. So I could go one and two and three and four and, and end up on my left, right? So I went one and two and three and four and. So a line dance that goes one, two, three, four, I could stand next to somebody and go one and two and three and four and, and be on the same beat. Let's say the next step is to go straight back. So we have one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. That's say a line dance pattern. Somebody next to me could syncopate that and go one and two and three and four and one, two, three, four and be right with me. What they've done is split up the beats along the way to then still be on the same pattern. Now without getting too complex, here's what we know about out two beat structure, right? So we know that if we have a one two, and then let's say, the next one we have a beat there, we have a beat there, and let's say we split that a little bit, right? And we went three and let's say that's an and,and we went four. So we'll go one, two, three, and four. So the line dance went one, two, three, and four, right. So we have four beats there. This is an even number, this is an odd number, right? Walk, walk, and then we have three steps. So we have two steps and three steps. If I want to create a syncopation, I can put any number of even steps. If I can fit four steps in there, bah, bah, bah, bah, that's fine to the triple steps. So I could go one and two and, still do my three and four, and be on phrase cause I replaced an even number of two walks with an even number of four. Potentially if I could fit six in there, I could do that as well and it still feeds me into this the way it's suppose to. Just like this is an odd number, so it's an odd number of weight transfers, right? So if I went one, two, and three, and a four, it would still work. Yea, so now that's kind of hard, putting five into that is hard. But, what if I did a touch step? What if I went one, two, and then I went three, four, and did a touch step? Well a touch step is only one weight transfer. It's one weight transfer cause I touch then I step. So I'm only taking one weight transfer. So how many weight transfers in three and four? There's three, there's three weight transfers. How many weight transfers in a touch step, let's say a touch doesn't get dark, right, if I went touch step? How many weight transfers, one. So three, that's one, they're both odd, works the same. So I could go one, two, three and four, four finishes on my right foot. I could go one, two, three, four, four finished on my right foot. So I can syncopate that rhythm a little bit, right? Replacing any odd with an odd, or replacing an even with an even. So then we understand a little bit how we can syncopate as we go. I know that all sounds a little bit confusing, but once you start to play with it a little bit and you go one, two or and one and two, oh wow that makes sense to me. I started on my right, I finished on my left, right? Or going one and two, or going one, two. Okay, I started on my right and finished on my right. I go one and two, started right, finished right. If I go one, two, started right, finished right. I can replace those up. So as I'm learning a new line dance, once I get it and it feels really good, well I want to start to play with it a little bit. So that instead of going one, two, three, four, I go one and two and three and four and, right? And then I'll go back, five, six, seven, eight. So we can start to make the dance our own by syncopating within the dance. Remember, it's splitting a beat, or it's varying the basic. That is a syncopation.

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