General Dance Discussion > Competition vs. Social Dancing

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by youngsta, Sep 1, 2003.

  1. msc

    msc New Member

    Unfortunately, to execute the more sophisticated moves, you need a serious dance partner, and you can usually only find those types of dancers if you are willing to compete. Socially, the leads usually are stiff and sometimes rough, and that's going to limit your abilities.
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I fear you may be right. That's why I ended up switching studios in the first place. I couldn't mix my social and competitive-style training. I'd get to social dances and have guys wondering why I couldn't follow their (heavy) leads, then go to my new competition-style classes and have leads wondering why I was such an insensitive follow. The two don't mix easily, or at least I'm not good enough to mix them yet.
  3. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I certainly compete, and never ever, not once, have I looked down on those who just social dance, unless, of course, they are shorter than me!

    Besides, if you compete, then you'll know what we're talking about when we say "we're having a heart attack" right in the middle of a Waltz! Hell, that what it feels like. Especially when you just start to compete . . . but it does get easier. You eventually learn to turn nervousness into energy!
  4. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    I don't know if you're talking about a particular dance, but in my experience there are some amazing leads in the social salsa circles I travel in.
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Oh yes. msc is definitely right on this one. The folks I know who do social dance only, for the most part, have no idea of what true partnership looks or feels like. And it's not their fault. Studios that train social dancers try to simplify everything, to make dance more accessible. The problem is that they simplify real partnership right out of the equation. Real partnership is difficult to attain, and very subtle to teach.

    From time to time, I'll dance with a social dancer who's really a good lead, but it's hit or miss.

    One of the first concepts taught in competition training (at least for me) is connection, then partnership.

    The probability of finding a good lead among competitive dancers is much higher, in my experience.
  6. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    I think it has a lot to do with location. For salsa/mambo for instance, go to LA or NY (or a major Congress for that matter) and you will find many butter smooth leads. Many of which may have never stepped foot in a studio. As long as I've been in the scene connection and partnership have been the #1 and #2 things preached to me. I understand when you say something like
    you're expressing your experience, but from my personal experience I'd have to disagree.
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yeah. I respect that. Sometimes, I really wish I lived in ones of the cutting-edge dancing hubs, like NY or LA.
  8. d nice

    d nice New Member

    What? I have no idea what you are talking about. What dance do you do? Isn't it the leader's job to lead his follow through moves? If she has good frame and footwork, shouldn't she be able to follow any well lead move? I know this how it is with most of the swing dances.
  9. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I agree with d nice here . . . good frame and footwork, and add no anticipating, I might add, and follower should be able to follow a correctly given lead . . . and even more so if the lead is properly given from the center!
  10. msc

    msc New Member

    It's not that simple folks.

    Social lead and follow is a totally different animal than competitive lead and follow, if pygmalion is contemplating entry into the competitive Latin/Standard arena.

    Actually, I'll defer to SDSalsa on this. I know he's seen both sides of that fence.
  11. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    My clear impression is that competition is a rehearsed thing.
    Of course the guy have to lead, but the lady know what to do, before the lead comes.

    In the social thing, the guys don’t know what level and what combinations the lady is capable to follow. The ladies don’t have a clue about what’s going to happen, but have to follow the lead.

    In salsa clubs some people can dance like they have known each other for years, and actually they have just met. That’s one of the major things that got me hooked on salsa. 8) 8) 8)
  12. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    That's exactly what I'm talking about Danish Guy! How much do you really have to lead in competition? They've practiced the routine for weeks. She could probably do the whole thing with no lead. In the social arena you live and die off your lead. You have to be able to adapt it to so many different follower's style.

    I've dance with women I'd met for the first time and it seemed like we had been dancing forever together. A great follower + great lead = a spectacular dance.
  13. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I totally disagree . . . my lead in competition is exactly like my lead in social dancing. And, as far as my opinion goes . . . it should be the same! Why would it be any different? I dance with my wife on our dance floor, and I give her the exact lead as I give my Pro. I am consistent . . . you should be too!

    Yes, my follower (the Pro) does know where she is going, but she does depend on my lead. This allows the routine to grow, to add styling, and to do those little things that are usually not done in social dance, i.e. 'play to the audience . . . wink at a judge!

    We are humans, and we forget . . . yes in a routine my Pro has forgotten and my lead kept it going, and the reverse is true - I have forgotten and she saved my a**!
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Vince A.

    Amen to that. I've done quite a few exhibitions where the only thing that saved us was my ability to follow. Now, when I'm learning exhibition choreography, I always memorize the intro, memorize the ending, and follow in between.

    Things happen while you're performing. People forget. Another couple gets in the way. I sometimes chicken out and do two spins instead of three. The only thing that saves you at times like that is following.
  15. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Yes. Thanks for the reminder on "other couples in the way." This has only happened to me twice, and both times in the middle of a difficult Waltz move. If I had let my Pro run into someone, I would have been 'dinged' a point or two. If it had been a WCS . . . hey, instantly out of the way!

    I have had to ad lib (lead and follow) many times in a routine that I knew like the back of my hand.

    I believe that the intro is the most important . . . to catch the judges eyes, you need to come out of the starting gate strong as ever. The judges usually have only a few moments to evaluate all the dancers, and you might as well get as much of their time as you can!
  16. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    I only competed a few times, both as an amateur and as a professional. While I enjoyed competing there were other things I liked doing more. Probably my favorite thing was perform. I had a job for over ten years performing weekly, plus many other gigs. I also enjoyed teaching. I used to teach some huge classes at night clubs. It was pure fun. People were there more for the fun than the competition. I think each person whould find what they really enjoy doing and do that.
  17. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I agree with what you said, however . . . I really like performing . . . whether it's standup comedy, being in the band, teaching, and especially dancing!

    I like being in the "center." Not showing off . . . just proud of my accomplishments . . . therefore . . competition dance gives me this outlet!

    It is one man's opinion . . . nothing text book . . . there is nothing like walking off the compeition floor just after completing a dance! It's such a high for me! I do not need to be "a champion" . . . d nice cured me of that need!

    Just have a love for dancing! It is me! I never thought something could be more important or more fun than my Telecaster!
  18. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Ohhh, Jenn...I am SO sorry that you got rained in yesterday!!! :cry: The after party at the USDSC last night was a great opportunity to see a lot of great competitively trained dancers just having fun on the floor...
  19. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Ok, I'll try to field this one...just please keep in mind that I am only answering from personal experience and perspective and claim no technical authority…

    To my way of thinking there’s both a yes and a no here. Lead and follow are at work in both situations so, by definition, there is overlap. At the same time, however, there are massive differences…if for no other reason that the nuances and responsiveness between competitive partners develop over years. As such, there are subtleties that cannot be matched in most social situations (an exception being, for instance, Vince’s social dancing with his wife which, like competitive partnering, has had years to develop).

    The pre-rehearsed, be able to do the routine on your own, view of competition is a vast oversimplification. Floorcraft issues, as Jenn has already pointed out, demand on the fly lead and follow. Beyond this, however, are other variables…

    :arrow: It is a very poor competitive dancer, for instance, who dances exactly the same way no matter the music playing. Such interpretation/performance demands the same lead and follow of good social dancing, even if the choreography is “set.”

    :arrow: Much top notch competitive dancing is so incredible precisely because of its demonstration of what two bodies can achieve in unison...while such chorography can be marked by each individual, sometimes it cannot truly be “danced” independently.

    :arrow: Also keep in mind that, as a generalization, many "social" dances rely on an "away" connection vs. the "towards" connection of more competitively based dances.

    I know this is a minimalist response to a complicate issue (great thread by the way :D), but I am severely over-tired after just getting back from the USDSC…I’ll try to think this through a bit more over the next couple of days…
  20. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    from my expirience the more people I dance with the farther away I get from asking a professional dancer to dance I get. I'm one of those who is at a club to enjoy the dance. I scope the scene and see which girls are out there who are strong solo dancers and their faces says I'm here to dance, make mistakes, laugh, and enjoy myself, rules are flexible, I'm not competing with anyone.

    Something I've noticed the ballroom dancers I've danced with lack is that relaxed attitude needed for a social dancer where not everyone has the same training. You will get stuck with people who are far less skilled than you! Sure I can dance with ballroom dancers, but I choose not to because fun to me isn't getting a look because I lost her hand and decided to turn the move into a improv shine routine. Everything has to be perfect for some individuals, yet they don't hear that the trombon player just got off beat, that the conga player just went from the tucu ta. to tucutucutuc tu, that the lead singer skipped over a word in the song, that the Sax keeps coming in and out as the soundman is searching for the right volume. They seem to be so indulged into perfection that it takes away from us as a couple enjoying the dance to the maximun. She might be enjoying her perfection, but a sence of uptight-ness comes from her planting of the foot all the way up to my hand. I'm like damn, the competition section is in the next room. Am too laxed when I dance, too "if we mess up" do an imporv, no sharp brisk moves unless the song calls for it. Why do 5 spins when two styled-out moves would look way better. But seeking perfection in a social atmosphere will only lead to a dancer's frustration. As long as we are on beat, forget about perfection and let loose. Now, if we are putting on a show, and I'm messing up, I'll be the first one to get on my case.

    In all, seeking the perfection that must be achieved in a ballroom dance in front of judges from Joe's Dancemania on Sundays is only a set up for frustration. So, while the 2 can't be compared, attutides from one plane to the other sure can be...

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