Salsa > Do you think beginners know what a good lead is?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Backstreet, Sep 25, 2005.

  1. Backstreet

    Backstreet New Member

    Well, for the past two weeks in my Salsa class I keep receiving comments from many different partners (Our class is about 40-50 people...) telling me I am a really good lead. I am only a beginner in Salsa (I started at the end of August), but I do have prior dance experience in just about every non-partner dance field. (Ballet, Tap, Hiphop, Jazz, etc) It is very flattering when we change partners and they are thanking me with a big smile on their face like they had a lot of fun.

    Is this kind of compliment fairly common in a beginner class? Or am I doing something right? (I always have a good attitude and I always try to keep everything random so I don't form any patterns)

    Edit: Some of the dancers in the class have done Salsa before.
  2. Katarzyna

    Katarzyna Well-Known Member

    Well, if they thank you, you must feel good to dance with.. You must be doing something right :)

    I'm not a good salsa dancer, but even thought as your dancing grows your preferences change for what you want in a leader, but from earliest stages, you can tell who feels good to dance and who doesn't. I am sure your previous dance experience helps you a lot. Especially to understand how to understand your body and stay connected to yourself while you lead :)
  3. lynn

    lynn New Member

    i think definately - when i started learning salsa, we have about 80-100 students in the beginner's class and we rotate every couple of minutes so every follower gets to dance with every leader and vice versa. It was quite obvious who the good leads are - even for beginners!
  4. Rosa

    Rosa New Member

    Yes, I think beginners very quickly come to recognise a good lead. Even if they don't understand the technicalities of it, it doesn't take them long to realise that it just makes everything so easy! 8)

    Rosa :)
  5. clave

    clave New Member

    Even rank beginners can easily tell a strong lead from a weak, hesitant one. Your prior dance experience gives you the advantage of good timing which most beginning leads have to work at for a while, and it sounds like you're not shy about leading. So yes, you're likely to have a relatively good lead for a beginner class. Now just stay humble keeping in mind that there are lots of strong but bad leads in terms of music interpretation, and you'll become a top salsero in no time at all! :)
  6. Backstreet

    Backstreet New Member

    What do you mean by strong but bad leads in music interpretation? If a person is offbeat?

    I will also stay humble -- I am still a beginner myself and I have a LOT to learn still. I don't consider myself anywhere of being that good yet :)
  7. clave

    clave New Member

    When a lead who should know better keeps pushing complicated combinations right through all the breaks and changes of pace in a song. Your dance should be like singing to the music you're dancing to, it's not just gymnastics. After you've been listening to this stuff for a while you'll start recognising common phrases in the different kinds of music salsa is danced to. Some complicated combos fit nicely into some of these phrases; shines feel good during percussive flourishes; but unless you're really, really good and know the song well you should stick with simpler stuff most of the time so you can hit the breaks and show off the girl. Flamencos have a nice word for this rare harmony: duende. It don't happen often, cherish the moment when it does! :wink:
  8. Milonguita

    Milonguita New Member

    I could always tell a good lead from a bad one, even as a beginner: with good leads, I could do just about anything, even things beyond my level of competence, but with bad leads, even the simplest move that the instructor showed was an ordeal.

    Especially if you switch partners during class, there's no way even an absolute beginner would not sense the difference.

    So congratulations on making them smile!
  9. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    You are definitely doing something right there. Grats :cheers:
    Listening to the feedback, and using the right feedback will get you even better.

    Now get to the clubs, the parties or whatever, and see if the lead also works with ladies outside class.
  10. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    It might be because English is not my native langue, but strong lead sounds wrong I my ears. Strong sound like use of brute force is a part of leading. I would rather go for a light, precise, clear, onbeat, timed, confident lead.

    Music interpretation is so hard to master. Start with adjusting to the tempo of the music, dance a lot and get the salsa on the back spine. Worry of music interpretation later. (Trying to dance in the music, and not to the music is where I am after 2½ years) :oops:
  11. pianoman

    pianoman New Member

    Words that describe a competent lead would be firm, confident, unambiguous, on time, and expressive.

    A strong lead would at least have the first three of those characteristics.

    Musical interpretation is just *so* difficult. I have degrees in piano and music theory but I can hardly ever hit the breaks. I mean in swing/jive music I know I can break every 32/64 counts... tango and waltz phrases in 8 bar phrases, but not necessarily in Salsa. And with all the leading and freestyling, I'm not counting beats. I think I'm going to start composing and leading some 8 bar combinations that end right on the break! But gosh it's not easy...

    I think it's partially a matter of dancing so much that you know most of the common salsa songs and know exactly what they're going to do and when so you can anticipate it
  12. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    yes the answer to the original question is quite definately yes.....they may not know why....but they know it's good
  13. saludas

    saludas New Member

    I don't think a beginner has a perpective on good.

    Beginners can't tell if a lead is good, because their 'sensitivities' are so rough. They'll often think a lead is 'good' because they can dance with that person. However, even the worst dancer in the place, if they are definite at what they do, seems like a 'good' leader to a beginner because, compared to a beginner's lead, it feels definite and forceful.

    Additionally, beginners feel many times that if the 'get it' then the leader is good. However (and you can always see this when a good dancer dances with a beginner) a beginner is many times 'lead' by 'dumbing down' and making a lead nothing more than a simple movement that even a non dancer can 'get'.

    Lastly, it was pointed out byDanish Guy that, in effect, a good lead has elements that take YEARS to understand by both leader and follower: <<I would rather go for a light, precise, clear, onbeat, timed, confident lead>>. Every try to give a light lead to a beginner in, say, a spin? They'll not get it - but they'll think some groupclass wonder's 'stir the girl' approach is the better lead because they are forced into a spin.
  14. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    good point but its all relative....perhaps what can be said is that even a beginner can sense some difference and knows when its a disater and when it was pleasant...certainly she may have required something much too forcelful to really be called a good lead or may have only been led to do steps that anyone could follow....but she can certainly also realize that spagetti arms and looking down and leading too late are problems....sure a guy that she thinks is a good lead may not be an awesome lead...but she can still make some distinctions (IMO)
  15. saludas

    saludas New Member

    Amen!! Beginners many times think a good leader is not good because theya are 'in the music' rather than metronomically hitting whatever 'beat' is heard. This sensitivity takes YEARS..
  16. saludas

    saludas New Member

    Yes, I agree that sometimes this minimal understanding of a lead takes place, but a nondancer sees that too. Also, 'pleasant' is not the definition of good. A bad lead can be pleasant if the follower (female OR male) THINKSit's good...
  17. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

  18. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    By "they" you mean the follows, not the leads, right? So are you saying that it takes years to be able to dance to the beat of the music? Just want a little disambiguation.. :D
  19. alemana

    alemana New Member

    beginners know what a good lead is FOR THEM. the definition of what you want in a leader changes somewhat as you progress as a follow.
  20. saludas

    saludas New Member

    By "they" you mean the follows, not the leads, right? So are you saying that it takes years to be able to dance to the beat of the music? Just want a little disambiguation.. :D[/quote]

    Actually, both. Beginners think that the 'beat of the music' is the simple downbeats. That's why beginners have such a hard time (for instance) changing from 'on1 or on2' - they are dancing relative to a simplistic idea of dance relating only to the beginning count of the music. As dancers advance in their concepts of music, then you get syncopations, light and shade, etc. That takes years.

    I don't doubt that a groupclasser can dance 'on the beat' after a few months - but is he dancing to the music? Not really.

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