What Is Timing in Dance?

What does it mean to have perfect timing in dance?

A woman dancing to her iPod
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In dance, timing refers to moving to the beat of the music.

However, having perfect timing means more than performing basic steps perfectly to music beats. It's not difficult to move to the beat, but it takes lots of practice to teach your mind and body how to actually feel the beat of the music.

Perfect timing is being able to let go and allow yourself to express your feelings through your movements, instead of trying to keep count of the beats in your head. When you achieve perfect timing, your dancing will appear relaxed and natural. You will no longer need to count beats, as your body will be fully aware of its place in the music at all times.

Professional dancers are often masters at perfect timing.

Good timing is not limited to any specific style of dance. It is important in every type of dance

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Here are some other tips to help you strive toward perfect timing in dance:

  • Don't just listen to the lyrics. Timing is more than just the literal words spoken or sung. 
  • You've heard the saying: "Dance like no one is watching." That's a cornerstone to feeling the beat. 
  • It can help to practice feeling the beat of music alone, not in front of others, when you may overthink it or feel self-conscious. 
  • Practice improvisational dancing, without a routine, series of steps or plan. 
  • Try dancing with your eyes closed and without watching yourself in the mirror. 
  • If improv is too challenging or feels like too much pressure, pick a few specific dance moves you want to incorporate into the song and then fill in the blanks between them with movement. You can also set a specific intention or theme to your dance moves that your body will follow. For example, dance like you are asleep, like you are a fairy, be inspired by a cat or a bird or choose movements that expand and contract. Sometimes setting a movement inspiration can help shut off the thinking part of your brain and help you drop into the music deeper, which can help you connect with the beat. 
  • Start by just feeling the space around you. Close your eyes and begin by walking around the room to the music. Or you may start on the floor with stretching movements. Ease into it. 
  • Don't take the idea of timing too literally. You don't have to hit every single beat, nor should you. Your own timing will flow with and complement the music, but also be individual and unique. Perfect timing doesn't necessarily mean you are dancing like you're the drum line of a marching band. Think of it like the music is your dance partner and you are working on telling a visual story together.