Since dance is movement through time, measurement of time is a central element of the dance. There are two main ways to measure time; the first is “mechanical.” Mechanical time is regular and is measured by clocks, metronomes, and anything else that has a consistent rhythm. Time, however, can also be “natural.” Natural timings are organic and not as regular as mechanical times. Natural timings can come from heartbeats, breathing, muscle contractions, and the like. Learning to move to the measurement of the time of a dance form is one of the first things dancers must learn — it is the heartbeat of a dance.
Some dance teachers train dancers in natural rhythm by exercises that alternate walking, hopping, jumping, and stamping. The step pattern reveals a natural underlying beat.
Click either the “Ticking Clock” or the “Varied Breathing” button to see a dancer performing a motion set to that method of time measurement.