Salsa > Hitting Breaks

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by rails, Sep 21, 2004.

  1. rails

    rails New Member

    I notice that, around here at least, very few salsa people hit breaks in the music. They just dance right through them. Last night I tried to hit a break with two different followers. I tried to lead it too. It didn't go well. They just kept up the 1-2-3 5-6-7 and looked at me with confused expressions.

    I was wondering how breaks are typically handled in other cities. Do most people hit them where you live or do they just dance through them? It's quite a change from the Lindy scene where hitting breaks is a big deal.
  2. NWesterner

    NWesterner New Member

    Salsa's not my main dance by any means, but dancing to the music is a pretty universal topic. My experience, both as a dancer and a teacher, is that beginners - and this goes on well on into lots of intermediate, "improver" territory - have to hang on to the basic rhythm for dear life, and have little concentration or creativity left over to really dance musically. This is compounded in salsa, where the clave can give inexeperienced dancers, especially us gringos, absolute fits. Just hanging on to that basic beat becomes a life-or-death struggle!

    Hitting a break requires either familiarity with a particular song, or having a good enough grasp of the usual structure of the music you dance to to be able to predict it. Plus you need to have a sufficient grasp of your dance that you're not spending all your conscious energy thinking of what to do next and how to do it. If you're hitting them, you're tuned in to all that, but it might be the furthest thing from your partner's mind (& feet :wink:)

    Your job as a leader is to make hitting the break so clear and natural that your partner does it without even realizing what she did. That's probably not going to happen in an open position, or happen at all with a newcomer who's just trying to keep the basic going - tho' that, again, depends on the mastery of your lead: if she's in your arms, and you pause (for instance), with strength and focus, looking in her eyes, and 100% of you is there in that pause (and it's on the music), even a complete beginner might just hit it with you.

    Keep dancing to the music, rails, there's not nearly enough of that going around :applause:. The more (and better) you do it, the more your partners will catch on.
  3. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    This is something I call "light & shade" favourite leads WILL dance to the music hitting/accenting all the breaks or "peaks & valleys".

    As a follower I do what I can..........with certain partners it can be fairly difficult though :roll: ..........

    The real challenge is to obtain the right balance between being smooth, while creating drama by accenting the music........
  4. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Grab them tight and they'll hit it alright. One person was telling me tonight that of all the people whom she had danced with I moved my hips, my body the best. I just said listen to the music. Let it tell you, let it move you. She actually started doing it!! I put her in a cuddle and held her tight and she got one break just right. :wink: :)
  5. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    :) other "Sassy hips"?! :p :wink:
  6. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    NWesterner makes good points. Hitting breaks is about musicality, and only a handful of leaders in my scene seem to play with the music. On one hand you have those who are inexperienced dancers who need to (as NWesterner says) keep to the basic 1-2-3, 5-6-7, and on the other hand you get more proficient leaders who just goes through their pattern repertoires no matter what the music says, which can be frustrating especially when I know a dramatic pause is coming in my favourite song and the leader isn't interested in hitting it. Musicality always counts highly in my book.
  7. Vin

    Vin New Member

    Another culprit in this mess is the mixing dj. One night I went to hit a break in a song and it wasn't there, not for another 30 seconds because the dj had mixed the song to keep one part going longer.
    Sometimes during a break in the music I literally just stop dancing, would this count as hitting the break?
  8. NWesterner

    NWesterner New Member

    Sure it counts, that's all a pause is: creatively stopping, then starting back up again at the right time. DJs who play for dancers oughta damn well know enough not to screw up a break like that.
  9. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    Creative stopping. I like that :)
  10. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    I do that! I am happy! :banana: :banana: :banana: :banana:
  11. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    yeah.. happens everywhere and in most places from what i seen, heard and read.. unfortunately :? .. its quite an issue for me, when i try to point it out.. still .. it often dont do much good.. they have to reach that point mostly on their own realization i guess.. meanwhile, suffering mechanical motion
  12. salsamale

    salsamale New Member

    I would agree where others have said that this may be a symptom of under-developed musicality or skill, as I am just starting to hit breaks in the music. For me, recently adding some basic dips to my repertoire has helped me the most, to be more responsive.

    For the follows who don't enjoy being dipped, I have observed that the "threat" of a dip, can be just as dramatic and suggestive as an actual dip, and can often induce a smile :). For either a dip or "threat of dip", a follow almost can't help but follow. This progression from dip to "threat of dip", will hopefully lead me to learn other ways of responding to breaks in the music.

    I would be interested in hearing how others respond to breaks.
  13. tj

    tj New Member

    Dips and "fake dips" (lol) are certainly good things to do. Even just a dramatic "freeze" (ever play freeze tag when you were a kid? like that), will work just fine.
  14. yippee1999

    yippee1999 Member

    ...not sure what it means to "hit" a break. You mean to add some type of emphasis, such as a dramatic pause, when you normally wouldn't be doing a step with your foot?
  15. tj

    tj New Member

    Yup. In most scenes, beginning to intermediate dancers will just dance thru a break in the music, still doing their basic step.

    It used to be the case that salsa instructors never talked about musicality (including playing with breaks), and IMHO, it's something that is mentioned (and done) a lot more nowadays than 3-4 years ago. (Or maybe it just depends on your local scene.)
  16. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    People do talk about it more so than they used to around here, or perhaps it is I know more so I like to yap with others, and pretend I know what I'm talking about.
  17. tj

    tj New Member

  18. naturallove

    naturallove New Member

    One of my instructors talked about how he used to teach musicality starting after the beginner levels, but noticed that people were getting more 'advanced' without really absorbing how to dance the basic. So now he starts teaching musicality from almost the very beginning in the level 1 classes. I think this is a good philosophy--it is so much more comfortable to dance with a partner who dances the basic, rather than dances flat footed and pulls you along for the ride (but maybe the double dutch arms are another thread!)
  19. alemana

    alemana New Member

    hitting a break is so exhilarating.
  20. sweavo

    sweavo New Member

    If your follower looks askance at you for hitting a break it means there's not enough of a connection for her. It's not the sort of thing you can really do with a beginner follower for reasons others have mentioned. But everything Sagitta and NWesterner said are good. All I'd add, is make sure you have a good mental connection with the follower - if you've spent the whole dance staring into space trying to think of moves then she'll feel a bit like she's on the outside of the dance. If you've given her a couple of grins, a bit of appreciation of any cool details of what she does, then she'll feel a part of what's going on and will relax more and let you play with the structure more.

Share This Page