Salsa > Dancing with your partner?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by brujo, Nov 2, 2003.

  1. brujo

    brujo New Member

    When taking classes with Cuban instructors or latin people, they will usually emphasize the idea of dancing with the woman. Eye contact, smiling, little tricks like pulling her in and sitting her on the lap, little taps here and there, and many other factors that, while not visible to the people watching the couple dance, add a big fun factor to the dance. Of course, this leads to ideas like "move around the dancefloor, move while you spin, etc".

    When learning NY/LA style dancing, I've noticed that the phrase "show off the woman" appears a lot. There is greater emphasis on the moves that will make her look spectacular on the dance floor, and the emphasis is on technique, speed, double spins, etc. The exhibition aspect of the dance takes over, and the little fun things are just not passed from dancer to dancer. It seems that the dance is now optimized for speed and efficiency of movement.

    Have you ever looked into your own personal style and found that you can't really mix what you've learned in one place with what you've learned in another? Has anyone come across something like this?
  2. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    I've taken what I love about ALL the styles of salsa and incorporated them into my style.

    NY-smooth, elegant, compact, shines
    LA-spins, showmanship
    Cuban-pretzel moves, playfullness

    Even after doing that I add my flavor to it and really make it mine. Also being familiar with all of them allows me to adapt my dance to where I am at. In NY I make sure to stay in the slot and keep it tight. In LA things happen fast so I pay extra attention to the surrounding couples. Cuban style clubs I use a lot of circular patterns.
  3. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    Perhaps I could find the info by reading through all the posts, but what is the difference between Cuban, L.A. and N.Y. style Salsa? are the basic patterns different?

    I am familiar with two of these; the forward together and back together and the sideways "cucaracha" step.
  4. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    I wonder how this compares with the pretzel used in swing?
  5. Salsero_AT

    Salsero_AT New Member

  6. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Brujo said:
    I agree. These are two different schools of thoughts. But in my opinion, both aspects are important and should be made aware to all students/elite dancers alike.

    In recent years I am noticing a trend that segragates the followers of these two schools of thoughts. Very few ppl managed to incorporate/adapt the differences......or even make an attempt to get to know each other!

    The salsa community is small enough as it is (at least it is the case in my side of town :roll: ), it really doesn't help anyone to alienate ppl.

    For example, the Latinos who were responsible of bringing this music/ dance culture to us in the first place are frustrated these days, as the dancers produced by various studios take the entire dance space for floor shows thus successfully 'frightend' off the less showy ppl.

    On the other hand, you will also get this 'I am Latino, I know better, I am naturally a better dancer' attitude, which does not apply to everybody & is not true in every case. Some ppl are naturally great dancers, while others have to work really hard, no matter what parentagethey are from.

    The point I am trying to make is, we can all benefit from learning from each other. By talking, making friends & dancing together, we will be able to build a stronger, happier scene. After all, it IS a social thing we are talking about!

    Anyone sharing similar experiences? Or is this an isolated case?

    And sorry.....I think I've wonder off the track again.... :roll:
  7. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    salsachinita... I think the internal divisions you mention are, unfortunately, far from an isolated case. Almost everywhere I've ever been there are such divisions along one axis or another.

    I am, however, curious about something... most of the Cuban style I have seen, aside from the most basic steps, has almost always struck me as being overly physical. I really see the men manhandling the ladies rather roughly... the opposite of what the opinions here seem to suggest. Anyone care to speculate on this discrepancy?
  8. Salsero_AT

    Salsero_AT New Member

    I have been dancing casino for two years now and it is absolutely not necessary to lead the leadies roughly. on the contrary you can lead in casino with much less effort than for example in LA-style. the complex figures in casino where you do not let go the hands and wrap them around only work if the man and the girl keep their arms relaxed. and it looks MUCH better then also.
    so i think casino only looks rough if either the man or the lady do not relax their arms which is especially important for the ladies: if the ladies do not relax their arms it will be uncomfortable for them. beginning leaders often tend to lead too strong so ladies tell them if it is uncomfortable for you.
  9. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Ok, SDsalsaguy, I'd have to say that some of the Cuban moves do seem overtly phycal. And depending on the application by the individuals, a lot of these moves end up being REALLY rough!

    I have recently gone back to group classes, taught by reputable Native Cuban teachers whom I have enjoyed dancing with socially. Some of these moves were being taught technically (but the FEELING somehow didn't get passed on), which resulted in some extremely ROUGH handling of the girls right wrists. This unfortunately became the only class I've had to stop because of the pain.

    I dread the thought of this kind of roughness making its way to the dance floor.

    In my experience, depite how it appears, this particularly physical Cuban style can be the most comfortable style to dance to for both partners, as long as one knows the subtle differences where excuting one of these moves! most of the Cuban natives will keep it simple, smooth, yet be extremely playful with the music. FUN being the operative word here :wink:

    On the other hand, some of the dancers trained by LA style schools cause 'traffic hazards' on the floor by doing acrobatics without considering the partners styles and/or ability.

    I am sure the toughest job for a teacher would be to translate FEELINGS to his/hers students......
  10. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks for the responses AT & SC…

    Just to clarify, I am not suggesting that LA style can’t be rough! I absolutely despise and abhor much of the LA “style” for exactly the reasons you suggest. As close as it is I do not visit LA clubs because of how rude I find them to be… people constantly running into each other without even an acknowledgement of it… let alone an apology. Similarly, I have seen people throw flips in, in the middle of a crowded floor, which end up with a woman’s heel coming down on the top of another woman’s head! The distinction between social dancing and performance seems to be rather lacking to quite a large extent. And, in a similar vein, I honestly think that I see more “pattern dancers” coming out of the LA style.

    All of this being said, however, I still think that, at any given level, I notice a more overt physicality in Cuban style dancers and dancing.

    OK, in all fairness I don’t think I’ve seen more then a handful of native Cubans dancing so, perhaps, the dynamics I am noticing are not inherent to the style…

    Also, the little Casino Rueda that I’ve seen does not seem to have the overt physicality of the other Cuban salsa I have seen. I’m not sure what, if anything, that might mean but figured I should offer that up as well…
  11. Salsero_AT

    Salsero_AT New Member

    I agree. Have you ever watched Cubans dance Despelote ? That´s VERY physical :wink: So of course their casino style is more phsysical than other salsa styles. I only wanted to clarify that this has nothing to do with being rough or not.
  12. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Hmmm, do you think we could say that it has nothing—intrinsically—with being rough? If so then it would still make sense that the physicality involved also often gets "mistranslated" into being overly rough. What do you think?
  13. Salsero_AT

    Salsero_AT New Member

    Yes that is true. Perhaps beginning dancers misinterpret the active way the man dances in casino as an excuse to being rough, or something like that :? :wink:
    Perhaps another reason is that in casino you are much more connected to your partner because most of the time you do not let got of at least one hand and you circle around each other. so you have many chances to be rough if you are not careful.

    i once met a guy who was in cuba and he told me that many cuban girls do not like to dance with europeans or americans because of the rough way they lead. in my opinion it is a question of feeling your partner. if i sense that a move gets wrong because the hands start to feel uncomfortable i simply let go of them. you can always try later again :wink:
  14. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Ok, I know this is a little bit of a tangent but here's an older thread about some of these same issues... Lead Your Partner, Not Patterns!

    AT... I'm guessing that American and European dancers unfamiliar with Cuban style would feel the same way in reverse. My guess is that just has more to do with different familiarities breeding gaps in communication which, unfortunately, attempt to be compensated for through greater physicality. But then again, it could be something else entirely...
  15. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Yes, a few Cuban/Latin girls and myself find that many students (non-Cuban, non-Latin) of casino style can do serious damage as they apply pressure to the hand/wrist rather than leading with their whole arm.

    Some times being a girls have about 25% of say in a dance....
  16. Salsero_AT

    Salsero_AT New Member

    Why not try to learn the leader role then ? i know quite a few girls who also dance as leaders. you also have doubled the number of potential dance partners then :wink:
    in rueda there is even a command (la confusion) where you switch roles and the girls become the leaders.
  17. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Fair enough – but being the guy can also suck... chances are that if something goes wrong it's ultimately your fault! :(
  18. Salsero_AT

    Salsero_AT New Member

    This might also be true. Anyway it is each one´s responsibility to dance in such a way that your partner can enjoy it and is not afraid of you :wink:
    Perhaps it is ultimately just a simple thing: feel responsible for each other and take care. You do not have to dance figures at any cost.
  19. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Well put AT! And exactly the point I'd been stressing in the Lead Your Partner, Not Patterns! thread I was just mentioning... :D
  20. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Isn't that just a bad dancer no matter what their ethnic origin?

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