How To Make Your Moves Match Vocals, with Markus Pe Benito (GRV)

Inside Steezy Studio

How To Make Your Moves Match Vocals, with Markus Pe Benito (GRV)

Jessie Ma
January 23, 2024
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Alicia's soulful tremor. Beyonce's powerful belts. Janet's delicate, buttery, magical voice. They're not the typical "boom"s and "ka"s dancers have been known to hit, but pieces to vocals have become extremely popular. When choreographed and executed with intent and commitment, they have the potential to trigger a lot of emotion in any viewer.But they do come with their own set of challenges. Not only do ballads or vocal-heavy songs call on a deeper feeling, dancing to a voice means that you have to match your body to something 100% unique and original.

(See Related Article: The Ultimate Guide To Musicality For Beginner Dancers)

We explored how to improve your musicality with our friend Markus Pe Benito. Keep reading to hit those lyrics with precision and emotion!

(See Related Article: How To Be A Cleaner Dancer)

Commit To Your Performance – With Your Face, Body, And Heart

You can hit every angle and picture perfectly, but a clean performance that's absent of emotion will never compare to a slightly messy one that someone fully committed to. You have to sell the entire mood of the song through your performance.

"No matter how well you do the piece, if you don't embody it, it won't read."

— Markus

Translating that feeling and keeping your moves clean goes into your timing. It's likely that, following the changing textures of a singer's voice, your body is going to have to switch up textures as well. So to really highlight those contrasts, from being really subtle then hard hitting, you have to be confident in how well you know your music.

Listen, and study how and why each movement is placed to that part of the song. When you know what's going on musically, and your moves show that, you can focus more on infusing your feeling into those moves without looking messy.

(See Related Article: 10 Types Of “Facials” Dancers Make When Performing (Sponsored by Fusion XV))

Timing Is Everything: Sit In The "Pocket" Of The Music

A big part of improving your musicality in dance, is simply having really impeccable timing.

Don't let there be "blank spaces" between your moves.

Which means, if your hand is moving from your chest to your shoulder, your hand should me riding that pathway until it reaches the shoulder, not awkwardly waiting there, ahead of when that sound arrives later.

"Moving through from Point A to Point B until getting to Point B. Stretch out the pocket."

— Markus

Extend your A to B's. Your speed into the next movement should accelerate according to the music. Again, knowing the song well will help in how you start and stop at the exact right times, and how much energy you're doling out in between.

(See Related Article: How To Dance Quickly To Slow Songs with Paul Ross (Choreo Cookies))

Textures And Dynamics – Listen And Emulate

Dynamics in your movement can be analogous to dynamics in a person's voice. Are they speaking quickly and sharply, or being slow and soft? Enunciating or slurring? Are they loud and powerful or whispering?

The way to match your body to those vocal dynamics is to manipulate your textures.

"Do this by using or relax certain muscles in different areas at different times. Tense when you initiate moves/ sounds, and relax out of it to fade."

— Markus

(See Related Article: How To Train Your Musicality As A Dancer)

Practice Makes Really Damn Good

Markus Pe Benito is a jack of all dance trades. Years and countless hours of development and diverse training has helped get him to where he is today.

We've seen him freestyle and choreograph to so many different genres of music, expertly matching the mood and musicality of each.

(See Related Article: 5 Dance Tips To Begin Your Freestyle Foundation)

As a former (and current) freestyle head, he first explored dance through popping, tutting, and C-walking. Originally from Stockton, CA, he religiously watched his dance idols through YouTube- Shaun Evaristo, the Companies, and Cookies, in particular. These artists and teams inspired him to start choreographing more, around the same time he moved to Los Angeles in 2012.

(See Related Article: Dear STEEZY, Do You Have Any Tips To Make The Choreography Process Smoother And Less Stressful?)

As Markus started taking more class, he got a taste of the community, but was really exposed to it through joining ACA Hip Hop and GRV.  Both teams, besides giving him a home and a family, pushed him as a dancer.

Taking on a leadership position in ACA gave him a creative outlet and widened his mental understanding of dance. Adapting to the styles of GRV helped him to expand his movement and execution. As his handle on directorship and vocabulary of movement grew, so did his opportunities as a traveling choreographer. He has visited and taught several cities, states, and even countries, and is now focusing on delivering his best as a local instructor, while staying firmly dedicated to GRV.

(See Related Article: How To Lead Your Dance Team More Effectively)

Put these tips to practice by learning alongside Markus! They'll give you more texture control, performance practice, and patience. Take his class online at STEEZY Studio today!

Want some more tips from other STEEZY Studio choreographers?

Try these:

How To Kill A New School Groove Like Scott Forsyth (Brotherhood)

7 Exercises To Boost Your Popping Fundamentals From Charles Nguyen (Poreotics)