Salsa > 1 or 2 beats behind the music

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by aimerrouge, Aug 24, 2006.

  1. jiayi

    jiayi New Member

    Wow, interesting post. I've had this discussion with a leader friend of mine a few times and we were at it all night!

    Personally, I like the take my instructors have on the lead-follow dilema: the leader invites/proposes an action and the follower accepts. This creates a much more relaxed atmosphere to dancing and allows for a certain amount of freedom for both dancers to dance how they feel to the music. The imagery also tends to cut down on rough/strong leads in our classes and teams as forcing a pattern would not be an invitation. =) It also requires that both parties know their part including the timing, styling, any hijacking of roles by follower (limited and in such a way as not to unduly affect the lead).

    Now, to return to the original posting...this hijacking idea is how I get an off-beat leader back on beat. I'm not backleading, that would be to do something that the leader obviously did not lead...instead, I might hijack the timing of a simple right/outside turn. I'll do some fun/sexy/funky spot turn when the leader "proposes" the turn that takes as many beats as necessary to come out of it on the right beat. Even when the leader is on the beat I might do this and take 12 beats to finish a turn thats usually done over 3 beats, it's just fun!

    This works especially well with leaders who lose the beat while turning the follower because often the underlying problem is a discontinuation in movement while concentrating on the follower in her turn. Then, after the follower hijacks the turn the leader will unconsciously begin his basic back on the correct timing.

    *Note* The above is something that I typically do only when social dancing as I believe that a class setting is a totally different beast. In a class or at rehearsals, I will let the lead feel it out as much as possible and follow exactly as it is lead so that there is good feedback. If it seems that the leader is becoming frustrated, I'll help out a little, especially by exaggerating when and where I'll need resistance and tension for a correct lead. For example, if the pattern is a reverse xbdy inside turn where the follower needs to be turned 180 deg by 3 and the lead is given by slight tension in the arms on 1 during a back break but I do not feel any tension, I might initiate the feel of the tension by actively giving more body weight to the leader rather then attempting to simply match the lack of resistance given to me. The natural response of the leader when given more weight is to give tension to prevent a "fall", thus creating the tension that translates in beautiful momentum!

    I like this method more than simply backleading through a pattern as it gives feedback in another method. Backleading means that the proper tensions cannot be given by the lead because the follower is already performing the exaggerating what leads need to be performed, the leader better understands the timing and feel of the leads.
  2. Ron Obvious

    Ron Obvious New Member

    Did that comparison once too and it was like opening Pandoras Box when I mentioned whipping :)

    It is somewhat funny to note that contrary to salsa, in horseback riding the follower is (most of the time) a male (the horse). But you don't have to talk about leaders and followers there ;)
  3. tj

    tj New Member

    I was watching one of the local instructors at the social last Saturday, and there was a significant amount of time where they were breaking on the 3-4 & 7-8 (to the bass in the song). They were both enjoying it, so as long as it's not an issue for one of them, is it important what any of the rest of us think?
  4. basicarita

    basicarita Member


    I'm not sure that was the first point (at least) of the thread, though. I think people were talking about situations where it is a problem for one person in the couple -- where the lead is breaking on 3-4 only and the follow is breaking on 7-8 only, perhaps, for example.

    When they're not dancing together, and whatever the lead (or follow, for that matter) is doing has no relation to the music's rhythm.

    For example, for me, I know it's my job to follow whether the lead prefers to break on 3-4 or 7-8.

    The bigger problem I tend to have is if the music is in 4 and 8 bar phrases - as most salsa music tends to be - and the lead is off somewhere on, say, beat 13!!
  5. sweavo

    sweavo New Member

    OK, my girfriend, wot is literary, laughed at me roundly for this. It is of course a summer's day. She refused to let me touch her after that until I could do the whole of the Moon's speech from Lorca's Blood Wedding.

    I know that nobody out there is laughing at me because unlike my girlfriend you are all lovely people, but I should correct it in case someone goes around quoting my misquotation, if you see what I mean.
  6. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Beat 13 , would be the first beat in the next bar-- which could be a pick up bar- or-- 1st beat of a new phrase etc etc .

    now-- if you had said 12 and a half THAT would really be off time ! :rolleyes:
  7. Ron Obvious

    Ron Obvious New Member

    Yes, of course it's a summer's day, even I know that (but I didn't notice).

    The music comes in phrases over many bars, but the dance doesn't. Not when I dance at least; I usually only plan at the maximum for two bars. Having a longer planning horizon is called a choreography.
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    So are you saying that you NEVER dance anything that is 2 bars longer , sequentially ?-- not saying you should-- just curious .
  9. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    (if there were a smiley called :whipped: , I would put that here too) ;-) LOL j/k
  10. Ron Obvious

    Ron Obvious New Member

    Yes I do, but they are separate moves, one or two bars long each. If something happens or the lady doesn't follow what I intended, I can adapt and change the move, therefore it's not planned or 'locked' for more than about two bars.
  11. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Yeah, well, around here summer roses are usually covered with blackspot. Unless you spray the heck out of them. :eyebrow:
  12. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    In strictest terms-- ALL movements are separate-- but -- the sequenceing we provide, should display a continuity that overrides the preposition , beyond the basic concept .

    The "flow" of dance is affected by how we disect the music, and it can become very "choppy " if we are locked into a 2 bar sequence .

    This theory really applies to all dance in the partnership genre .
  13. Ron Obvious

    Ron Obvious New Member

    Well, this might be out of the scope of the original question in the thread, but the moves I make do form part of bigger entities that I try to match with the music, it's just that I don't lock or freeze these plans until they no longer can be changed.

    See, I do not just lead, I also follow. I have to follow the follower, and I have to follow the music (and also what is happening on the dance floor). I can't truly follow the follower if I have every move mapped out for 16 bar sequences, instead I plan moves ahead (albeit mostly subconsciously) in my head, but I reserve the possibilities of changing them on as a short notice as I possibly can, this planning horizon gets shorter as I progress.

    During classes we learn long combination of moves, e.g. a veleta which consists of three different turns of the follower, each two bars long. This is a combination which has a name, but it's still just three distinct moves mapped together. I do the same with all the moves I do; they are part of bigger entities but the parts can be substituted for other parts should something happen with the follower of the music or the dance floor. The flow, or continuity of the sequences is generated dynamically with the interaction of the leader and the follower. Maybe this do not plan ahead-mentality is something I have adopted from my martial arts background.
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    1st para-- thats exactly what I mean .

    2nd para.- as do we all ( I hope ) preparation- the key to all good leading .

    3rd para --- as a teacher and coach, I have to prepare the class quite differently from a competing couple-- the danger of long sequencing in class work-- if they get lost in the " middle " , they generally do not know how to compensate .

    My " tack " was intended to convey how i like my advanced people to progress , the movements coupled together like a chain link fence , with various " breaks " in the fence-- gates -- which accomodate the rhythm changes and or clave rhythms .

    Predictability , is the enemy of freeform .
  15. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Careful! I took a terrible thrashing from someone here on the DF *ahem...cough/sneeze/cs...clear throat* not too long ago for this same comment. :)
  16. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    I think this is an excellent expression of a quality partner dance (read: I couldn't have said it better myself :)).

    I've always thought of the dance as a three part equation; my partner, the music and my lead. If I dance the same tune with two partners, it will be a different dance, because my lead will be influenced by their responses to my lead. The same partner on two different tunes should create two distinctive dances, if I'm mature enough in my lead.

    I'm still the lead and set the overall flow, but the follow will influence my choices, and sometimes take me in different directions due to her input (often better). I'm looking to find her strengths and showcase them even if they are outside my norm because if she looks better, it reflects positively on me.

    I view it like a conversation; I may start the conversation with a topic in mind, and generally a set of points I want to make before the conversation ends. The exact flow of the conversation will depend on how my conversation partner responds. I may use a word they don't know or their interpretation of a phrase may be different than what I intended. I adjust, repeat and/or clarify where appropriate, and we can have a great conversation without everything being pre-planned. If my partner gets excited about the subject, I can crank up my responses, or we can be quiet and reflective, depending on the overall mood between us.

    Same concept with the dancing. I think having long sequences is fine (and I have some), but I agree the ability to reorder and chop them up is important and appropriate.

    Responding to input from your partners is one of the marks of the more mature lead, and makes the better guys look even stronger.
  17. yippee1999

    yippee1999 Member

    I find that it is "painful" for me to dance offbeat in order to follow any offbeat partner I might find myself with. So if I find myself with such a partner, I will continue to dance on beat, hoping that he will realize he's offbeat or eventually will try to match his steps with mine. And often I have found that this works. I would much rather dance with a guy who just does CBL's and single turns with me and nothing else, but who is on beat, rather than a guy who does more fancy stuff, but is off beat.
  18. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    Many follows share your approach but I'm not clear it's the best strategy. One size rarely fits all. Unless the lead knows he's offbeat, it can simply appear that you are not following him. Most guys who don't hear the time won't know you are in time with the music. In other words, since they don't recognize being off-time, they rarely figure out in the middle of a song that they are now on-time, thanks to you.

    While I see how painful it can be for you to follow someone off the time, it's also painful for him to try and match your footwork/timing AND do any leading. Most men don't multi-task as well as women, so now in addition to his patterns/dancing, he has another task which is matching your timing/footwork. Depending on his level, that can easily overload his circuits.

    Side note: If he's just a little off time, that may be different... you can stretch a CBL and/or many turns to make them end on time if the guy is close.

    Sometimes I suspect it's better to go with the flow (try and match his bad timing) and avoid dancing with him in the future. Some of the best follows I know tell me they don't like dancing off the time, but they take it as a positive challenge to make the most of the lead even though the timing is off.

    When I see a follow making the most of a guys weak timing, and still making things look good, I want to dance with her. My theory is if she can work with someone off beat and still keep a good attitude, she will probably make me look much better than I am, covering for my weaknesses too (timing is my strength, but I have plenty of other weaknesses...)

    I respect the ladies who make the most of weaker/off-beat leads (making them look better) and the ones I know who do it turn out to be excellent follows when they have a stronger lead who is on time.

    Dancing off-time is hard as a follow (I've done it as an instructor) but it builds depth, making the follow even better IF they approach it with the right attitude.

    Your approach is valid and many women do the same, but I've seen alternate approaches from some very strong follows. They tell me following without good timing from their lead made them much stronger.
  19. Mostly Ballroom

    Mostly Ballroom New Member

    Hi Don. The other day I was dancing salsa with a folower who was having problems keeping the beat. Now part of the problem is leading in ballroom seems to be different than leading in salsa and I sometimes don't get salsa leading depending on the follower. I tried to match her but she always sped up and changed the beat again. So I gave up and just adamently kept the beat while she was off beat. It wasn't pretty! You would suggest that I continue to try to match her, right? We'd look better and have a better time.
  20. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    Hmmm... My first thought is I wasn't clear:

    As a lead, it's one of my primary jobs to keep the time for my follow and I can/should bring her back to the time. Since I'm the lead, I can easily speed up/slow down to match the music if we get a little off at points. You can do this with finesse as you gain experience. Many moves can be pushed or slowed down slightly to get back in sync with the music.

    Again, as a rule I would NOT follow the ladies timing and I bring her back to the music as soon as practical if we get off the time.

    Once she realizes you are in sync with the music, most follows will relax and let you handle the timing. The more advanced ones will assume you're going to continue being right and they can depend on it, so they turn their focus to dancing to the music. This allows them a ton of freedom.

    My exception is a very new follow, who is struggling with the basic steps and the song is too fast. In those cases I may ignore the music for part of a dance, because I asked her on an inappropriate song. (I consider it my fault for dancing a fast song with someone new. It can happen if I do a random dance with someone unknown or I ask someone before a song starts.) Once I ask her it's my job to make her comfortable, even if she's just starting.

    I see some strong follows who go with the flow and dance off time if their lead is off the music, but the lead should lead and make the time obvious for their partner. That timing should be in sync with the music, so the follow can hear it in addition to see it reflected in your lead. That gives her two reference points, both of which are consistent with each other.

    If you are not sure of the time, that is different, but if you know, then it becomes easy to keep them on time once you have a little experience as a salsa lead. The lead simply becomes another band member, keeping up with the rest of the group in terms of the time.

    If I missed something, please let me know!

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