The Pro-Zill Position
We all have things we struggle to learn as dancers, for many it’s zills. They are challenging for sure in that “rub your belly, pat your head” kind of way. So many dancers seem to not play them these days that it just gets easier and easier for new dancers to justify passing them up like some optional prop. Heck, your instructor many not even play – so why should you bother?
Investing the time to learn and practice zills is about much more than being able to make a bunch of noise while you dance. Learning zill rhythms intrinsically changes the way you hear your music – it’s like seeing down to the ocean floor through clear blue water. You know so much more about what’s there than if you only watched the sunlight glinting off the waves. That deeper understanding of your music’s structure lets you dance closer to its heartbeat and really bring the music and the movement together as an integrated visual presentation.
When you can play zills proficiently – maybe even boldly – you take on the additional artistic role of musician as well as dancer. Even if you are performing to recorded music, you can bring extra excitement with a “live” music element at your fingertips. If you are performing with a live band, you absolutely become part of the music-making. Done well, this interaction is exhilarating for both the dancer and the audience.
Whether live or recorded music, zills are a voice that let you express yourself creatively within the framework of the music. You can embellish a melodic flourish, add drama with accents or use them as a bridge between the rhythm and punctuation of your movement, and the basic meter of the song. The possibilities are creative, endless and FUN.
You don’t have to play for every performance, in fact, your preferred styles and music choices may come off better without them. You’ll still benefit from the rhythmic understanding and musical thinking that learning zills brings. Last year in a workshop, Princess Farhana told us about a student of hers that didn’t want to practice. The student justified her position by saying she hardly ever saw her play in performance. The Princess’ answer, “Yes, but I DO know how if I want to!”
So all I’m saying is, give zills a chance!
Next time….. my top 3 tips to make learning to dance with rhythms easier.
What was your first impression of or experience with zills like? Has it changed over the time you’ve been dancing? Tell us in the comments below!