Salsa > In defence of patterns

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by don_svendo, Jun 12, 2004.

  1. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    What a lovely topic!!

    Thinking face on, what move do I do next? No idea what she is going through, but I just came up with exactly what I will do to her next. Creates an arms length Jail for a follow who thinks the lock created by two grasping hands through an array of patterns is salsa... SD said it pretty much all...

    I think Pacion, brought up the word responsibility, hope it was she...

    The responsibility is at the top, but I’ll focus on the instructor as he represents the top. It is impossible for a human to teach another human that which he doesn’t know. As well as, a human learn something he has no idea exists. The teacher simply because he becomes the figure that “plants” ideas. There are very few humans that can break out of taught rules/ideas and create their own ethos of dancing/living. The rest of us, well, we blindly follow, yet think because we are on the driver’s seat we are driving. The fault is at the toppest top of the zenith… Which really is the thinking of a society.

    Where did the belief generate? Once a belief and it taught by an authoritative figure many will simply make it part of their own belief system and blindly follow. Very, very few will ever question and more so, break out on their own thinking.

    The responsibility is at the top (represented by the teacher), not because he isn’t teaching what he knows, but because he hasn’t realized that he isn’t teaching but simply expanding his egotistical ideas of dancing. Expanding because teaching becomes telling someone how to think, and how to do things as others do them. We need to teach that despite rules in form of patterns, what is of most importance is a philosophy that each dancer needs to create in their own (with teacher’s guidance) with the music, a connection that will bring together the two dancers, then form a patter if desired so. A free will thinker that will stop not at what he is told, but what he invents in the form of that beyond the dance. The problem, we are an analytical society with pre-determined rules that govern our thinking, yet we don’t know we use those very rules as the first steps in the process of thinking, we don’t even know we have those rules in us. A choice has already been made for us, but since we selected a “choice” we think we made the decision.

    Teachers are labeled so, yet few do so. Many tell everyone what to do, not simply light the path, and spark the learning bug… and why many students look the same, and instead of representing themselves in the dance, represent an exact copy of their instructors. That isn’t the student’s fault, it is human nature, we simply follow that which our new religion of dancing tells us the rules of dancing are. The rules taught by a person that doesn’t know that the expansion of an ego is what his teaching techniques are doing. A person who really thinks, sees, and stone-engraved believes that salsa is the construction of pattern upon pattern. A physical ego looking to overcome yet another obstacle, and has been taught that patterns to salsa are just the overcoming of those obstacles. Yet, we think it as us thinking we need to do more patterns to dance salsa. The blind leading the blind, an imperialistic/immature view that physical construction is ultimately overcoming obstacles and building character/the self.

    Humans are not all leaders, there isn’t much comfort in being different following your own beliefs when everyone ridicules you, and follow a different belief system. No one wants to be the odd-man out because of different beliefs. It takes too much time, too much effort, it is easier to follow…

    Students become teachers following a trend that teaches the same idea, yet never realizing that the 1st floor isn’t a foundation.

    Responsible are the teacher because he is the “authoritative” figure that represents the thinking of a society, yet he has failed to do his job, despite doing what society tells him to do. More so, blame a society that deems correctness just because this is they way it deems it is. Blame a society, blame all, blame none.

    I can’t blame my student for not being original when all the tools I gave him never even touched on originality except for the words, make it yours, as if we can all make something ours when we don’t know what make it ours truly is, or even how to go about making it ours. Ours, will become what we see others do, not what we came up with.

    Patterns are simply a number of the pieces of a pie that, along with others, create the whole. However, the whole is seemingly taught to be represented by the few pieces known as patterns.
  2. don_svendo

    don_svendo New Member

    I knew you'd have something to say about this, Boriken... :)

    While I agree that the teachers may be primarily responsible, your criticism sounds a bit too severe IMO. They're only humans, after all. None of the teachers I've had has given me the impression that he was "expanding his egotistical ideas of dancing", or that he believed that "salsa is the construction of pattern upon pattern". Some have even been rather inspirational when it comes to ideas of improvistation/personal variation (!).

    And, yes, I still believe that patterns must be the central part when learning salsa. My theory is that, paradoxial as it might sound, you have to learn and really internalize quite a few moves/patterns in order to stop being dependent of patterns. Hope this makes sense...
  3. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Anything that is an extension of person towards the outside, be it physical or mental comes from the ego, a sense to "teach" that which it "knows/possesses", unconsciously of course.

    A lot of instructors are indeed very inspiring, very helping and forthcoming, however, because of our very nature as physical beings we have no choice but to teach that which we know, or believe to be "right/our way” (our reality). At the end, our teachings can only be what the physical self believes to be true, the ego just says, "here this is what needs to be taught because it is the correct thing to do"... The hidden agenda behind morals, an illuminated ego that subtly hides itself as a knowledgeable person being helpful, when in fact it is trying to paint itself for eternity in others lives. It isn't a bad thing; it is good to transfer knowledge from person to person, but not the only way.

    Imagine a truly spiritual person teaching salsa, we pretty much would get nothing out of him except a follow your own path. That statement is the absence of an ego, he has really nothing to teach, we have to teach ourselves, he can only speak about the dance or dancers, from there we draw our own conclusions, follow our own path until we reach the dancer we want to be. He is only present to hint us what to things to ponder, or how to open a closed door. The rest we do. If we follow his style of dance, it has nothing to do with him, he didn't ask it nor taught it, we chose to follow it, hence, his teachings gone wrong even when he meant right, even with the absence of an ego. Then those students become teachers and mistakenly teach what they were taught not what they learned, all while wanting to give back the same inspiration they were once given....

    There are many ways to dance, to learn, you have found your way and that is to see the absence of patterns by learning them. It is what best helps your belief system and lifestyle. For me, structure is bad because it becomes hard for individuals to break out of a frame of mind that says patterns, to which eventually an illuminated dancer becomes he who seamlessly creates patterns. Remember patterns are there, you need not be taught them, when you are inspired you will fall upon them and do them not knowing where they come from. Even the hardest of the hard will pop out like popcorn in a microwave. For that, patterns aren’t needed but the absence of a thinking mind which is what you seek to achieve, albeit, through a different path.

    There is really nothing wrong with it, for each dancer their own way of doing things, own way of teaching. I just deeply believe that humans err when they teach, we seek to spread the knowledge we have instead of helping others see the same truth but through their own eyes, with the absence of my “biased” views.
  4. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    :shock: :shock: :shock: I like this! :notworth: :lol: At the risk of sounding like a groupy, can I quote Eddie Torres once more :mrgreen:

    Seriously though, there was a guy here in London, an ex Eddie Torres dancer (and why am I surprised? :lol: ). I saw him and his partner performing and :shock: I thought to myself, I want to dance like them! I had had an On2 class a few years before and was totally put off by that teacher, but that is another story. I started doing lessons with them and it was amazing. One Saturday, they did a 3 hour workshop I believe it was. They showed us the patterns and shines they were going to do. We fainted. :lol: They revived us :lol: and by the end of the workshop we were doing it as if we were born knowing how to do it, with them watching rather than dancing with us. That was a moment in my dance life I still remember, after all these years :cry: okay, two years ago :lol: Sadly, they left London shortly afterwards for the shores of the US :(

    Edgar and Irene at a 2002 event in London organised by a local promoter, MamboCity
  5. don_svendo

    don_svendo New Member

    Well, I know that I'd want my money back if he didn't show me how to do the forward basic. :evil:

    So far, this has never happened to me. All that pops out are, well, "discovered moves", as youngsta called them in a recent thread... :D
    But hey, if it works for you...

    I deeply believe that humans do good when they teach and communicate with other human beings. I prefer to be influenced by the "biased" views of other people rather than being restricted to my own (every bit as biased) views!
  6. dancin_feet

    dancin_feet New Member

    Maybe I'm understanding this the wrong way, but to me you can't dance without "patterns". Dancing is made up of set patterns or figures which is basically a series of steps put together. Sure you can play with the pattern, take it apart, mix it up and put it back together in a new way, but they are still patterns to me, albeit a variation.

    To me a "pattern dancer" would be someone who does the New Vogue style of ballroom (to equate it to something I know, I'm not familiar with how it works in the club salsa world). These dances are sequence or "pattern" dances where there is a set pattern you must follow.

    :? :?
  7. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    We have the same goal, our means are just different. There can be nothing wrong with either approach, however, the goal will always be the same, which means at the absolute end, you and I can only know the same truth, will live the same truth and passed truth will transform to new views... The bumps and turns will differ but at the end...

    The real difference is a view from within as opposed to without... Seeking to learn salsa, or be taught salsa... There is more to salsa, more than a physical harmony, more than what meets the eye... After patterns are taught the only road left to travel is in that search of salsa calling, some delay it, some never care to see it, others live it. It is up to each individual to make a choice, now or later, we'll all come to the cross-roads. When the "ZONE" falls upon our "advanced" skills, we'll notice those things that will inevitably transform our truth about salsa.
  8. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    GROUPY!!! :lol:

    Ahhh, only if, only if... ahhh, the ultimate expression of the soul through salsa; the portrial of faceless emotions by the body through "patterns" (using dancing-feets' defintion)

    The becoming of that fire/energy... The final journey of a dancer...
  9. Big10

    Big10 Member

    I agree with that concept, but the pure "pattern dancers" (in the negative sense) are the ones who appear not to be able to even take apart a long pattern. It's like once they start into the sequence of something they learned in class taking five 8-counts, well, they're stuck from beginning to end -- even if there's a big accent or musical change in the song that's actually being played in the club.

    As just one quick example, I once saw a friend doing a cool sequence he had learned in a workshop, so I asked him to show me a particularly cool move that was in the middle of it. The move I liked started on the "1" -- yet my friend simply couldn't demonstrate it to me without doing the basic outside turn and cross-body lead that the instructor had put at the beginning of the pattern.

    My friend has gotten better since then, but at the time he didn't have enough comfort with the dance to be able to change up what he had learned and "make it his own."
  10. DancePoet

    DancePoet Well-Known Member

    This is a fascinating thread!

    In my little dance world, which is mostly the studio I have been taking lessons at for a year, beginners are taught basic patterns of steps. It seems like a lodical way to start ones progress towards "real" dancing, how ever that may be defined.

    Already, I have discovered how limited the early patterns are. They get you around the floor or keep you moving to the music, but they don't give you much to really express the emotions and messages that the music creates. Additionally, it can be difficult to create a special experience with your partner without having more knowledge and the tools necessary to create one's own interpretative dance.

    Then as one progresses to learn more of the patterns that are being taught, new combinations of patterns can be used to create a more enjoyable experience. At the same time one can begin taking parts of different syllabus patterns to create new patterns, yet this is can be limiting, tricky, and some ideas end in failure, too.

    My experiences so far have not been with salsa. I have the most knowledge and experience with Tango and Cha-Cha which is where most of my experiments are being conducted. With these two styles I have found the ability to do different things away from the patterns taught, but the efforts are usually not met with approval by my instructor. There is concern expressed because of my interest in competitive dancing where knowing and executing the syllabus is very crucial to the judging. And I understand.

    However, during social dances the variations from the syllabus patterns often get smiles and giggles of approval from the followers I lead. The body language is occasionally along the lines of "what the heck?", yet the rest seem to be enjoying the uniqueness and playfulnees of the experience. I even caught my instructor enjoying an item or two with my Cha-Cha.

    The best situation happened this weekend with one of my former competition partners. We were doing a Tango and I combined a cortez into a series of running steps, and after that we put together another three to five moves in a row that just flowed with the music so well that the whole experience seemed new and above anything else we had ever done together before! When I turned to her after the music ended and mentioned that stretch of our dance, she seemed as thrilled about it as I.

    It really did seem like a bit of poetry in motion, and finding new things through dance is an exhillarating adventure!
  11. ketchup

    ketchup New Member

    Boriken, I wholeheartedly agree with you on your statement above. And I think this statement is very sincere, because by including yourself among "human"s, you are suggesting to us that this statement itself is not an exception of "an extension of person towards the outside, be it physical or mental comes from the ego, a sense to "teach" that which it "knows/possesses." I take the above statement only as the extension of your ego (in your words, no negative connotation here), not as the God's truth or anything like that. As a matter of fact, the reason I agree with you wholeheartedly is, NOT because Boriken said this or because it just feels right, BUT because it matches the conclusion I reached after many different experiences I have been through as a teacher (not dancing, though) and a student at various occasions.

    So in that sense, I am glad I read your post at this point after experiencing all those dilemmas as to teaching, because it has confirmed that there is at least one other person on this earth who shares the same view as I do as to the nature of "teaching." In other words, I am glad I didn't read this 20 years ago ----- if I had read this then, I would have just taken it as the God's truth, without thinking, without knowing there are other options, and would have been preaching to some people shamelessly ---- "Hey, this is what teaching is about. Teaching is nothing more than...blah blah blah.... It is a human nature.... blah blah.... This is the truth because this is what Boriken said..... blah blah blah." And by doing this, I would have chosen not to give any other options to the listeners, without realizing it --- thus would have ended up contradicting myself big time.

    Whenever I read your philosophical opinion, I try to look for some parts I cannot agree with. Even if I find some, I usually let them go... because in most cases, I would like to wait until I feel I see your point (or my point) through my own experiences.

    But as far as technical questions go, I would ask them right away.
    BTW, Boriken, how do you do that move with R-R crossed over L-L.............. :p :p :p
  12. ketchup

    ketchup New Member

    :D Edgar is definitely one of my favorite dancers! You are lucky, Pachon!
  13. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Exactly Big 10! But to me, the bigger issue than not being able to adjust to musical shifts is not being able to adjust to shifting floor conditions! :shock:

    So freaking what if your pattern calls for an outside spin now... you're about to run your partner into that dudes elbow!!! :x
  14. dancin_feet

    dancin_feet New Member

    I know exactly what you mean SD. We have a guy who has to dance the pattern "as written" as it were. Regardless of what else is going on. He drives us all nuts in group lessons if the instructor is teaching how you can vary the step and he insists that it is a set pattern and gets all confused about putting different endings or cutting it part way through. Then there is the age old question "Which variation do you do in an exam?" When the answer comes back as, "it doesn't matter", it just confuses him more!! He wants to know what he is "supposed to do" and can't handle the concept that sometimes you just have to ad lib! :eek:
  15. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Exactly d_f! That epitmoizes what I mean by a pattern dancer!
  16. dancin_feet

    dancin_feet New Member

    Oooohhhhhhhh! :wink: :roll:

    Sorry, didn't get it before! :oops: :D
  17. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    exactly... I can't stand such leaders! It's all about showing off with them!
  18. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Ah, transformation of truth, the student 20 years ago becomes today's master. This day there is a difference between blindly believing what we are taught, and putting it through a process of questioning/experiencing/reasoning to finally deem it as learned, to have it become ours... Me likes that very much

    Philosophically speaking, I wish not to teach anyone anything. I don't even want to. All I care to do is question, or hope to make the person think about the very same thing they are doing by introducing different ideas/views of the very same reality, eventually with hopes that one day the person's experiences create their reality of the very world I speak of. As you have mentioned and practice, only experience can teach us what others really mean, blindly believing will always leave a gray area of "true" meaning. Hence, never really learning a given something....

    lol... I think, you've noticed that I'm more into the philosophical world of salsa, rather than the physically practiced... You have left me no choice, :tongue: but to teach the means of a philosophical world through mambo by demonstrating the "rules" that makes us live within its dance. I would have to get a hottie :kissme: for her to show you, R-R crossed over L-L.............
  19. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    :shock: How/where did you see him/meet him :shock: :lol:

    You can PM me :wink:
  20. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    Coming late to this thread! :oops:

    I agree with some of the earliest statements, that "pattern dancer" is often used as a term of disparagement that includes a whole bunch of other things that go beyond questions of "pattern."

    Learning patterns is absolutely essential. It's like learning basic syntax; what good are all the different words you know if you can't put them together in a knowable way?

    When those patterns are taught independently of issues of leading or following, problems arise. So learning a pattern needs to be immediately coupled with how to lead a pattern, and how to follow the lead.

    Once the lead and follow are understood, then someone may introduce variations. Alternative endings for a pattern. Different options in the middle of the pattern. Often these can be learned in terms of what SD says about floor conditions.

    Beyond all of that, or preceeding all of that, depending on how you look at it, are questions about musicality. The basic form of musicality is being able to count. More advanced musicality may involve technical issues of how to move to a beat, a style of moving that keeps the motion in a continuous flow, etc.

    Saying all of that, I'd have to say that I don't disagree with what anyone has said about what frustrates them in what they call "pattern dancers." But I just find the term itself too open and hence potentially meaningless. Learning patterns is very important to all dance, not just salsa. Just as it is important to learn lead and follow. To learn variations. To develop a sense of musicality.

    So when I find something I don't like in a dancer, I tend to try to be more precise about it. "So and so couldn't lead a falling stone to the ground" or "Such and such couldn't follow a map down a one-way street." Or else "this person is more or less completely oblivious to anyone on the floor" or "that person dances like a born-again Calvinist." Or "This guy couldn't count if you shoved a nuclear metronome up his butt" or "that girl dances like she's warning Will Robinson of danger." That to me says more than "pattern dancer."

    Patterns, after all, are important.



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