Often the role of leading drummer or leading dancer would be one of two functions if no both. It would either be to “cut” or “break” the rhythm by adding virtuosic Dynamic Rhythmic Tenison or to organize the Metric Tension.

Dynamic Rhythmic Tension is when the dynamics within a polyrhythmic structure or creates a tension or a challenge to the balance and equilibrium of the composition. This creates both excitement and risk, because the composition might collapse. In the interplay between dancer and drummer, they might challenge eachothers ability to maintain rhythmic flow and not have the rhythm collapse. This must be done with astute ability and is not random play without a rhythmic understanding as a base. It is also not trying to be unclear in order to confuse the other, it can however involve unexpected rhythmic stunts. It is important to rember here that rhythm does not ask, it does, it shows and it is. Therefore, a dancer must show her or his rhythm, not ask the drummer if the rhythm is correct with their body.

When several rhythms are played simultaneously (polyrhythm) with shifting metric potentials it creates an instability in the composition. This could be called Metric Tension.


Off-beat phrasing is often used with Dynamic Rhythmic Tension. However, Metric Tenison is a more direct challenge to the subjective pulsation of the active listeners metronome. This is because several rhythms, each with shifting metric potentials, create an instability in when combined and are not so much dependent on accentuation to create effect. As mentioned earlier, such accentuations are usually knowns as Breaks, as in the Haitian Voudun concept of Kasé and as cross-rhythms all depending on context or reference of the speaker. The Rhythmic Movement that this creates is perhaps too complex to be grasped in their individual parts. This is similar to other polyrhythmic constructs where it is the whole that reveals and confirm the individual part. Similarly in dance, to separate yourself or rather to distinguish yourself you need references; Other dancers,  other soloist, something to show the small unique choices that affirm you as an individual. In the Africana context you are always relational and the relationships are in constant dynamic reposition.