Salsa > Backleading.

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Matrix, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. genEus

    genEus New Member

    Ooh I didn't see this thread. This was all already discussed but I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in. Unintentional backleading is prevalent in beginner classes. The females ruin it for the guys when they do what the instructor says instead of what the guy leads. I don't know if I'm just that good a leader or if she is just doing what she knows she's supposed to. So, once in a while I'll just completely screw up the move on purpose to see if she'll follow my lead or just try to do her own thing. I always get questioning looks. hehe.

    That's also why I will always try to find a new person in the crowd and dance with her, someone from outside my studio, since dancing with the girls from my class I get overly confident when my lead is perfectly aligned with their expectations and everything flows smoothly. I get into big trouble when someone doesn't know that I'm leading a left turn and only THEN I find out that I should be more forceful with my lead or what not.

    Actually, I would prefer that a woman just do what she FEELS I'm leading. I started out doing a little Argentine Tango and this girl was a really sensitive follower. Initially I tried to dance with her and TOTALLY screwed her up and myself and felt like a jackass. So, I didn't dance with her for a couple months knowing how sensitive she was to everything that I was leading wrong and after those couple of months and having learned so much more I danced with her once again. I was in heaven, she followed exactly what I led and only then I knew that I must be doing something right. Now, when I ask about a certain move or combination in the salsa class, I always ask one of the good girls what it is that I could do to screw it up. They will always follow the guy's lead and purposefully act confused (in a kind way, though) to let you know you're pulling and pushing in the wrong way. I appreciate that.
  2. rhythm mouse

    rhythm mouse New Member

    I’m so glad this thread came up. Personally, I could really use some very specific information about how to get out of backleading. This is a good start:

    The points made here (the last 6 pages) concerning why not to lead - particularly in classes - were far more illustrative than how I’d been told before. I can much better appreciate how it takes away from the learning process for the leads. I guess I feel a little helpless in the newcomer classes when some leads are so concerned about getting the footwork, they don’t yet have the ability to lead (and I’m not complaining – I just don’t know what to do in the meantime).

    I’m still very new at this, and have always danced (moved, really) solo. My instructor knows that I have a tendency to over-anticipate, and consistently changes the patterns so that I have to follow. And I greatly appreciate this.

    After class/practice last night, we all went over to a Salsa club. I was anxious to dance with a gentleman who had asked me twice the week before. He was a good lead, fun and mildly instructional (by my request), and in our second dance, taught me the Bachata on the spot. This week we danced a Salsa, and still being new at it, there were times that I wouldn’t follow so well, guessing at what I supposed to do, and got off-step. He was very patient and kind. At one point, however, he said, “Okay, that’s good, now don’t try to lead so much” -- I was mortified :shock: :oops: . I think I was trying so hard to follow what he was doing, I was over-anticipating again, and it came off very strong?

    I don’t know how to get out of this. I can only hope with practice in privates, that this will improve. I’m getting comfortable with most of the basics and some turns, but when it comes to anything even slightly more complicated, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to come off on the correct foot or stay on beat.

    Does anyone have any other specific points that I could work on that would prevent me from back leading?
  3. lynn

    lynn New Member

    Hmm, i hope majority of the problem will go away as you get more practice and becomes more comfortable. When we're tense, we tend to anticipate - letting our brain do the work rather than our body. As we relax, we let the leader guide the movement and we come more sensitive to the lead, does this make sense??
  4. rhythm mouse

    rhythm mouse New Member

    Yes - makes sense. As a matter of fact, this gentleman (last week) told me to just feel the music and not worry so much - which had a lot to do with why I wanted to dance with him again. I just hope I didn't come off as so many other follows have that were complained about here...

    I just want to nip this NOW. Of course, I just want to learn it all NOW, and have some magic formula for getting it all right the first time. I realize this is completely ridiculous, but I'm impatient with myself. :?
  5. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I can only think of three things that may help . . . and you may have to apply them in other ways to you . . . oh, and BTW, I usually don't go onto the Salsa forum, as my best salsa goes better with chips . . .

    1. My Pro is very guilty of backleading. I recently told her, "I don't pay you to backlead." "If you backlead, I walk off the floor, even in competition, and then I'll look for a new Pro."

    She broke the habit - with me - although sometimes while learning a new routine . . . she does help out-while learning. If we do the entire routine to music . . . the only backlead I may get are her eyes . . . like when I need to do a shoulder catch, she may look down at her left shoulder.

    2. Loosen up your frame's right arm . . . keep a good connection though, but really lighten up. Lighting up will make the leader psychologically increase his/her connection rigidness (maybe) and be encouraged to lead you more, and not be discouraged because you are arm wrestling (strong-arming) him/her.

    3. Put a clothespin on your tongue to remind you not to backlead!
  6. lynn

    lynn New Member

    Yes, we all want to be the perfect dancer out there, but unfortunately there's no shortcut. Just today, i spent 1/2 of my morning trying to get a turn right (and to think, i should be working!) and was utterly frustrated b/c i just can't seem to balance properly. Learing can be agonizing, but it'll all be worth it when we get past this stage and reap the reward of our hardwork!
  7. tacad

    tacad New Member

    rhythm mouse, try finding someone a little less polite to lead you. :wink:

    Seriously. Someone who will have a very definite lead that won't be trying to nudge you through the moves.
  8. luh

    luh Active Member

    that is a nice song!

    @latindia, that's really hilarious. i had that in class yesterday. but in the end it didn't matter anyways a lot. she screwed it up a whole bunch of times, because she thought she was doing what the teacher said, and not following, and i was screwing it up immediatly when she was doing it right, b/c the step was a tougher one :D - btw, was my FIRST lesson with andrew sutton. A great guy!

  9. luh

    luh Active Member

    listen. listen to your partner. keep the frame, don't bother about footwork too much, or about routine. It sounds to me if you are very talkative on the floor - meaning - if you talk dancing as being a conversation. Let him talk, and don't just let him talk, but really try to understand him. (it's like in a real conversation, if you don't listen and try to understand in a real conversation what someone tells you, you won't be able to respond to him/her). Talking you should avoid would be at one point gramatical: don't try to correct him, b/c he isn't able to speak the correct language yet - (footwork included). It's tough, i know - i do following from time to time. but i always think of it as a relief, because i finally don't have to do the thinking, just listening. - though i like that in real life too ;)
    hope it kinda helped
  10. alemana

    alemana New Member

    the "how to not backlead" thing is a big part of the beginner follow learning curve. don't stress it! just don't! i know you may want to slap me for saying so, but you WILL get over it. nearly everyone does. the only thing to do is relax and wait.
  11. Medira

    Medira New Member

    That, right there, is the most important thing. Relax. If you're tense about it, then it will become harder to just give over and let him lead you. It will just takes time. :)
  12. rhythm mouse

    rhythm mouse New Member

    That's a nice analogy, thank you. And working with the cross cultural backgrounds that I have in the past, I wouldn't dream of correcting someone's language in a conversation, so it makes sense to do the same on the floor. I'll be trying this tonight...
  13. rhythm mouse

    rhythm mouse New Member

    This is all good. I appreciate all the input – and welcome any more that comes along, btw…

    It’s a bit of a relief to think (hope) that the backleading might go away on it’s own after some more experience. I’ll practice the basics as much as I can, but it’s tough practicing how to follow, when there’s no lead in sight (my husband won’t touch this with a 10 ft pole) :cry: (yet) :wink: (I’m working on this… that’s a question for another thread).

    So, if I sum this up,

    1. Keep a good connection with my lead
    2. Practice so that my body begins to do the work instead of my brain (this is muscle memory, no?)
    3. Loosen up my right arm so the lead is forced to take more control (good pointer for my class situations esp)
    4. Find a clothespin small enough to fit in and close my mouth (no-one needs to know this…) Actually, it would be nice to have a subtle little reminder somewhere – I swear I’m going to wear a straight arm brace to get rid of that chicken arm thing during the ECS :?
    5. Practice
    6. Practice with a strong lead, rather than an overly gentle one
    7. Maintain a good frame, worrying less about footwork and more about the <dance> conversation taking place.
    8. Relax and wait.

    I’ll admit, though, I want more control over this (correcting it, anyway) so relaxing may very well be the toughest advice for me to follow. I have a private tonight, followed by a group lesson. I can’t decide whether to mention this to my instructor, or simply try all this out on him / in the class first. Would it be better to get feedback about how I actually did, or better to ask him for tips and have him know I’m trying to be conscientious about it…
  14. luh

    luh Active Member

    glad you like the conversation one. It's not from me though. Just wanted to add this.
    Oh, and there are obviously way more things that are in a conversation that would be normal to take over to dance.

    don't force him. But a good way of convincing <-- this is what you should do, him should show how much fun you have. take him to dances. look how much fun it is. how great the music is. how easy ECS is. ...
    I wish you good luck with it.

    Sounds good. Best luck!
  15. luh

    luh Active Member

    a back-leading story:

    yesterday night, my first class lesson after summer break. Andrew wanted to show me something, but i wasn't able to do it right away. so what he did, he got behind me, grabbed my back, and lead what i was supposed to lead. <-- this really is back-leading

    p.s. there should have been a smile, i'm just in a too bad mood to put it there - for all those who need to see a smiley to know that it is funny - this is (meant to be) funny.
  16. Medira

    Medira New Member

    Backleading is a habit that you can definitely get yourself out of. I danced solo dances (ballet, tap, jazz, etc.) for 20 years so when I started partner dancing back in February, it was terribly hard to get out of the habit of doing everything for myself, completely unsupported. After a lot of practice and really focusing on being aware of myself and how I'm responding to my lead, I've been told that I'm a good follower and I have improved a lot. It took a lot of work though, and I know I still have a lot to do to reach (and hopefully exceed) my potential. It takes time, but you can do it!

    I'd say both. Ask for tips and suggestions and, after your lessons, ask for feedback on how you're doing. The reinforcement and focus will probably help. :)

    Oooh! One drill that I was given closer to the beginning of my dance time really helped me to get the feel of just giving over and following...but it was also kinda fun. It's something your husband would probably get a kick out of helping you with...

    Get a hula hoop and hold it under your arms so that the back of the hoop rests across your shoulder blades. Have your husband/partner/instructor hold the end of the hula hoop that's sticking out in front of you. Rest your arms on the hoop so that your right arm is as close to dance hold as you can get and still maintain your connection with the hoop. Rest your left hand comfortably on the hoop as well. Close your eyes, relax and let your husband/partner/instructor lead you around the room or the backyard or wherever it is that you try this. Dont worry about any sort of footwork or steps, just walk normally. As it becomes more comfortable, picture how you can transfer that feeling to your dancing.
  17. Medira

    Medira New Member

    Hehehe! Cute, luh....very appropriate, but cute. :p :D
  18. luh

    luh Active Member

    wow this really is a good one. I have to keep that one in mind!!!!
  19. Medira

    Medira New Member

    Thanks luh! I have a drill like this that I used when I started learning to lead as well. :)
  20. rhythm mouse

    rhythm mouse New Member

    He attended my first comp (after 4 weeks :D ) with my oldest (8 yr old) son, but other than that, he doesn't come along (and doesn't really want to). One reason I'm able to do this is that he keeps our 3 little guys whenever I'm out. It's an interesting balancing act between being a good mom/wife, and improving my dance (aka living my dream). He's very athletic - runs marathons and smaller races - and has conquered everything he's ever tried. He seems a little gun shy with this, and I'm sure not much interest. I'm trying to explain to him how it would take our relationship to a whole new level :friend: ... so far, no luck.

    And if he ever does start up lessons with me, backleading could be a whole new issue for me ... maybe if I can kick it now, I'll be a better partner for him if/when he ever does dance.

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