Salsa > In defence of patterns

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

  1. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    Yes GR, patterns (a recipe) are important. However, as dancin_feet said:

    Therefore, the dancer serves you precisely two scrambled eggs with three slices of tomato, because the recipe called for it, even though there might be ham, cheese, mushrooms or even smoked salmon available :? :lol:
     
  2. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    Hence my comment--"That guy dances like a born-again Calvinist." The problem is not that he has learned a pattern, but that he hasn't learned any variations.

    Or, to put it another way, the problem is he doesn't have enough patterns in his repertoire!
     
  3. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    OR!!! He does not think/has not given himself permission to throw other stuff in OR listens to the music to know that going at 100 miles an hour to a Marc Anthony song (Barry White) is not going to have the same effect on the female as if say he were to s-l-o-w it down to say 40 miles an hour :wink:

    Incidentally, I say He above because as the poor woman/follower has to foloow, they have little choice or say in the matter. However, when doing shines/solo footwork, I have seen some women guilty of being pattern shiners :oops: :lol:
     
  4. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    And that's where I would say "couldn't count if someone shoved a metronome up his butt." My take on it--problem with musicality, not with pattern.

    Or, in your first example ("doesn't think he has permission to throw other stuff in")--I don't make a distinction between "doesn't have it" and "doesn't use it." The issue seems the same to me--the dude needs to practice and get comfortable with more patterns so he doesn't keep doing the same one over and over again.

    Oh, and about the followers--believe me, if you had to dance with some of them, you'd see the problems in their dancing and not just in shines. In my own (admittedly somewhat limited) experience, the problem is pattern independent of following skill. I'm delighted to have a partner who has a wide repertoire of patterns--but I don't want her anticipating leads or doing something other than what I've indicated (which strikes me as just plain rude). 8)
     
  5. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    I differ in view, if the problem was musicality then he who is great with musicality wouldn't be a pattern dancer. Even if a dancer hits all the stops, is in synch (beat and tempo) with the music, doesn't mean he stops being a pattern dancer. Had that been the case no advance dancer would get the label of "Pattern Dancer", and that isn't the case. Musicality missing, however, makes the pattern dancer stick out like a soar thumb.

    Pattern Dancer lives in a mentality, a way of thinking, not only about the dance but the music, regardless of skill in both pattern repertoire and musicality.

    A mentality that takes over the dancer and makes all of his skills point in one direction, the creation of patterns. 2 people can do the same patterns to the same songs, yet one is seen as a pattern dancer and the other isn't... Why? Mentality...

    More patterns certainly don't create a pattern dancer, however, if the mentality stays the same, that pattern dancer will have an even greater array of moves to become even more of a pattern dancer.

    The issue with dancing boils to thinking, not the pattern, not musicality. It is like a suborn person, his problems aren't what he knows, but that his life is lead by a set of unbreakable rules that stop him from looking to the sides... A tunnel vision, if you will...
     
  6. dancin_feet

    dancin_feet New Member

    I would agree with GR here. The guy I am talking about couldn't stay on beat if he tried. He says he is concentrating on what step he is doing, planning for, etc to be listening to the music. He has been dancing longer than I have and I still have to slow him down during rumba and waltz in particular. :x (Though every dance is a problem :( )

    I will follow any step, but put me off time and not be able to get back on, I'll lead him back onto beat. Then count for him for a few bars. It does get annoying, but I live in hope that one day he'll get it if he gets enough practice. He would be a fabulous dancer if only he learnt to lighten up and relax a bit. But then, I think that maybe some people are just incapable of doing this. :?
     
  7. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    Hey dancin_feet, I wouldn't give up on him! There are a couple of guys here that I used to think were torture to dance with :oops: but I still danced with them. I disappeared for a while and when I saw them a few months later I was like :shock: you guys got good :shock: :lol: ok, it took them a few years but still, they are a real joy to dance with and what is sweet is that now that they have surpassed me in patterns :wink: they always have a dance or three for me :banana:.

    Okay, back to the topic here. I just read an online interview with Thomas Guerrero of Santo Rico, a NY dance company. Funnily enough, he was mentored by an ex-Eddie Torres dancer :roll: :lol: (No one say Eddie Torres groupy please :lol: ) Here is something that Thomas said, which is in line with what I mean when I say 'pattern dancer'

     
  8. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    Ah, but I was responding to Pacion's description of someone who dances out of synch with the music, which is an issue of musicality. What you describe here--someone who has a strong musicality, but nonetheless remains what you call a "pattern" dancer--must have some other shortcoming than musicality. You'd have to say more precisely what that is--if it's stiffness, then there are problems with technique; if it's that he does the same patterns over and over again, there are problems with imagination and versatility; if he simply steps into perfectly choreographed moves with little or no connection to his partner, there are problems with his lead. All these to me seem more precise ways of describing the shortcomings of a dancer than "pattern dancer." That term tells me nothing except that the person describing his dancing doesn't like the way he dances.

    At the risk of sounding dense here, I'd have to ask what that mentality and way of thinking is....

    I'm going to be completely pedantic here--and for all the rest of you gentle readers who aren't inclined to my own occupational hazard of pedentry, I feel compelled to warn you that the rest of this email amounts to hair-splitting, between (I would hope) friends, but hair-splitting nonetheless. So if you don't want to watch us split hairs, you might just skip over the remainder of the post.

    Back to it--I dunno, Boriken. What you write above strikes me as a little circular first of all. And second, I would strongly challenge the idea that anyone can read someone's "mentality" by watching them dance. Last summer I watched a lovely ballroom couple glide across the stage in the Viennese Waltz. The gentleman was concentrating so hard that each time he got to a corner where the judge wasn't watching, he sort of looked like he was constipated. And while my friends and I all applauded with quite serious and admiring looks on our faces, we were rolling on the inside, at the same time we genuinely did admire the performance. Physical appearance is no key to internal mental processes--we're better off just sticking to describing what we see physically than delving into someone's supposed mental state.

    And that's what I guess I object to most about the use of the term "pattern dancer." It doesn't just describe a shortcoming in performance--it invokes a kind of Dancerly Inquisition in which those shortcomings are interpreted more as character flaws than physical issues that can be addressed. The language tends to be almost religious, and definitely exclusivist in quality. One is either a "real dancer" or a "pattern dancer." One either "feels" the music or one doesn't. It starts sounding like a discourse on the nature of Grace.

    Understand that I have no problem with the idea of critiquing someone's dancing. But I just think that the critique ought to have something more substantive about it if it's going to be useful to the dancer or noteworthy for the listeners.

    If, in the example you end with, there are two dancers who are dancing the same patterns in the same song, yet you call one a pattern dancer, what is the usefulness of that term? By your own description, it's not the patterns that you're talking about.

    Once again, then, if it isn't the array of moves, then the problem is not with versatility. If the problem is not with musicality either, then my guess is that what you're talking about when you say that someone is a "pattern dancer" is someone who doesn't know how to lead (or follow). That's a more precise thing to say than "pattern dancer."

    Okay, what you're describing here is someone who cannot or will not deviate from one predetermined script. Which in dancing sounds to me like someone who dances the same patterns over and over again in each song. That to me sounds like a problem of versatility--not enough different patterns and options remain open and usable. The remedy--learn more alternate patterns and different ways to end patterns and use them, incorporate them into the repertoire.

    It seems to me that what has been happening on this thread is that people have rushed to defend the use of the term itself, rather than being open to the possibility that the term is limited in its uses (I would say more or less useless and nondescriptive), and hence open to exploring other possible ways to describe what they dislike. Like they've gotten this catch-all term of disparagement, and remain locked into using it however much is use may be called into question. Isn't that the mental equivalent of what you're describing above as "pattern dancing."

    While most of this post is pretty pedantic, as I warned above, there is a reason that I'm taking the time to write it. And that is because the use of the term "pattern dancer" as a universal term of disparagement strikes me as particularly noninclusive of beginning dancers who are learning and using patterns for the first time, and more particularly those junior leads who may not have such a wide array of patterns to use or feel comfortable enough to let go of the steps and work on musicality, lead, or exploring alternatives.

    To say that there are simply "pattern dancers" who can never break out of the ruts they fall into, and by implication "real" dancers who are endlessly inventive as a result of the Grace of the Dancing Gods, is to shut off those fledgling dancers from the hope that they will ever be able to invent, explore, and push boundaries. Of course they will, but it will require a lot of work and effort to look so natural and artless on the floor.

    When I was at Indiana University, I had the great good fortune to sit in on an introductory bebop class taught by the great jazz educator David Baker. David didn't care whether you were registered for the class or not, he was just interested in people who wanted to learn to play. And the way he introduced people to bebop was by studying patterned licks, and encouraging them to put them together. I can't tell you the number of hot shot wiz kids from music conservatories who were just stunned at the way David taught. They felt it was belittling, demeaning, below them, that he didn't recognize their talent. David, who had worked with Miles, and Coltrane, and Monk, was friends with Jay Jay Johnson and Slide Hampton, was around when the bebop greats were playing off the streets, always reminded people that Miles became Miles by first studying Stravinsky. And he continued to teach the way he taught--those with the humility to stick with him over the long haul were the ones who ended up touring with orchestras like Woody Herman, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington.

    It starts from the simplest patterns. And then you build it up.
     
  9. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    Are you suggesting that we are "pattern thinkers"? We have only one thought = pattern in our heads and are stuck on it :lol:

    For anyone who is a true beginner, it would be unfair to use that term that should not be used (playing on the phrase from Harry Potter). For me, it was a term reserved for the more 'experienced' dancer that I am acquainted with and therefore know something about their salsa/dancing background?

    PS GR :friend: :D
     
  10. dancin_feet

    dancin_feet New Member

    Wow GR, impressive!! :shock: :)

    Correct me if I am wrong but are you saying that being a "pattern dancer" is more of an end result, caused by any number of issues regarding versatility and musicality, etc?

    As I say to me a pattern dancer would be one who dances New Vogue "patterns", or sequence dancing and nothing else. I would rather think that people may get stuck at a certain level. As you say, versatility, etc are all part of the learning process and someone may just not "get" some aspect of the process. That then becomes an issue they need to work through.
     
  11. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    Do you mean Voldemort?

    Dumbledore says you should go right ahead and say his name!

    I've been serious on two threads now, and I'm just plumb tuckered out. I'm going to search for lighter topics that don't make my brain hurt!

    P.S. I only argue with my friends. My enemies I pick up da phone. Bada bing, bada boom. Fuggedaboutit.... :wink:

    P.P.S. In case there are any rat-stinkin feds listenin in, I'm just kiddin youse. There is no such thing as a Cosa Nostra. You bin watchin too many movies.
     
  12. ketchup

    ketchup New Member

    :notworth: :notworth: :notworth:

    Boriken, I have to share this with you. I was in an instructor training course (again, not dancing, though) 10 years ago. One of our instructors asked us what was our purpose/goal as an instructor.

    After everybody stated their goals, our instructor said:

    "My purpose of being an instructor is to help my students become independent learners. This means, when my students don't need me any more, my goal is achieved. It doesn't matter how much they have gotten from me. What matters is, how much they can get from then on, on their own. "

    :lol: Oh, if that's the case.... I would consider learning a lot of dips, too!! :nope: :nope:
     
  13. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Agree with both of you, Boriken & Ketchup, about the philosophy of (being) an instructor.

    This has been my approach too, for all the years I've been (unofficially) teaching (not dancing, until this week).

    You know what I've found......? I had problem keeping jobs :roll: :lol: , as the students either became independent (hence don't need me), or feel the need to learn 'patterns' (going to someone who teaches them).

    :oops: Um........sorry, folks. Back to the topic.......!
     
  14. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    :shock: You said the name of he who should not be named :shock: :lol:
     
  15. ketchup

    ketchup New Member

    :lol: :lol: :lol: This explains why all those teachers who I admired very much were either (1) already extremely wealthy or (2) always busy running from one side job to another. :lol: :lol: :lol:
     
  16. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Stiffness, lack of lead, problems with technique, and lack of repertoire have little to do with a pattern dancer. Again stiffness is caused by the mind, not the body, the lack of person’s mind to be comfortable with what it knows, hence causing the body to react to its “fear” (cause = mind, reaction = body). Lack of lead, it is the minds lack of experience (how can the body react to something the mind doesn’t know how to tell it to do? Versatility has near zip to do with pattern dancer, A dancer can dance with a girl all song long with a cross body lead and a single right hand turn, and he can very well never be seen as a pattern dancer, neither because of repertoire, nor because of versatility. God, he can even be off beat and still not look like a pattern dancer. That she’ll get bored has no impact on the way he will look. Look at those guys who go in there with 2 moves, fearful, sweating, yet you see a glow in them that takes them away from being a pattern dancer, even the mind says I’m AFRAID… the body telling us what he is thinkig.

    Now, imagination, how can a person be imaginative when all he knows is that the world tells him that he ought to never break out of rules? It’s like me telling my kid he is free to do what he pleases as long as he stays within what I told him to do. There will eventually come a point that he will see freedom as just that; the rules I created for him. A state of a mind becomes a way of living, the dancer will see dancing as what he has been taught and what he has seen, hence, no matter how eloquent he is within the full knowledge of that world, he could possibly(not likely that he will) still be dancing as a pattern dancer. His is of out most variability to the full knowledge (experienced dancer) of his dancing skills, yet pattern dancer can be applied to this individual. Making a left field comment, in the US nothing else the rest of the world says is correct until the US proves it to be so (been changing as of late), then it exists, and the public allowed to make use of in their daily lives. A way of thinking, nothing to do with they physical world.

    Here in NY City we have some of the best dancers in the world, yet, some are seen as worrying about the patterns above anything else. Which says the dancer only cares to do patterns, yes they are on beat, with perfect technique, perfect musicality, no stiffness, but their mind says one thing. Let me do patterns regardless of… Even when they come up with the bestest of moves. I can not blame an experience physical body for anything it does, when the brain is the one telling it what to do.

    To me liking is vague (like pattern dancing), but usable, however, I happen to like the way some of these guys I speak of, make patterns, but dislike their mentality of pattern dancing. One time I stood next to one of my female friends and I told her to look into the person’s eyes and tell me if she could tell when he changed frame of mind, every time she said, “something seemed to change”, the guy’s seemingly change in thinking would translate in his actions. He literally went from pattern dancer to not. Even while doing the same moves over and over. She was able to see what I meant when we changed roles, he even elbowed the poor girl in the head and didn’t even apologize. This guys is as experienced as experienced can get.

    Of the many possible causes you describe the one I agree with, is connection, however, not a physical connection because these guys CAN lead, have wonderful frames, can make the girl do things way above their skills, but a mind/soul connection, that is absent in a pattern dancer. His body is present doing what needs to be doing but his mind isn’t thinking about patterns, what is next, this is what I will do no ifs and buts yet staying with the music.

    Anyone should be able to tell how a person feels/sate of mind just by looking at them, looking into someone eyes alone should tell me that a person is sad, happy, imaginative, ponderous, etc. A body will always translate what the mind is doing, always. How can you tell a person is sad? Even when he hasn’t said a thing to anyone? He is out of character, whatever that might be, his face will droop, a smile will be almost a frozen-wondrous, body will slouch. When a person is thinking, his eyes will become bigger, his body will tense, the world becomes him and his thoughts… When a person is being creative, the retina will change in size, eyes will open/close, his hand will move around, typing will become faster, facial expression change from time to time, etc. All of those characteristics are seen in a dancer, all we have to do is look, and know what we are looking for. I can be out there and tell who is having a blast but there because something happened that needs forgetting. Who is thinking about the next patter, who is dancing with the girl because he lustily wants her, who is acting the same as the lusty guy yet doesn’t want the girl, simply the song asks for it. I can tell what couple is together, yet having an argument, despite how well they are dancing. I might not know exactly what they are thinking, but their behavior points in which way to look. You can even tell the slightest of brain mishaps just by looking at a dancer. The book of mentality is readable in the written words of the body. All we need to know is what is math, science, English, or history, to be able to say, hey this is what is going on. There need be no need for mind-reading, just a knowledge of human behavior/action and reaction, and your educated guess will likely be very close to home plate. If physical appearance was no key to mental state, I wouldn’t know when a girl wants to get in my manhood, just by her actions, even if at times I could be mistaken. It is a total key to the inner workings of the mind. Look around you, look at how people react in different settings/events, then look again at someone else, they’ll react very close to the same. Ask them both and the general problem they face will be generally equal, the loss of love, death, happiness, not specific but under same branch of feeling… We are all human, being so the body reacts with exactly the same behaviors under similar circumstance, the group that laughs when embarrassed, the one that lowers their head. The bodies reaction is the first key for a lover to know what his mate is feeling. Pay attention and the phrase “Physical appearance is no key to internal mental processes” will have very little meaning. God, I’m even able to tell when a person’s breath is pumping just by looking at the reaction of the partner. Body, the body speaks to us all. You can even tell when someone looses concentration just by the bodies reaction. You can even tell when a dancer is in the “ZONE” just be seeing him dance. You can tell when two people have found “fairytale” love for the first time while dancing. God, if you are in tune with your body you can tell exactly what others feel, but hey, the US says it is impossible, even when the Chinese, the Indians, the Cubans, the Taoists say is possible, good old US of A says impossible, therefore to its community it is impossible… Not really what each individual has learned but rather what it has been taught, even when they are free thinkers, they can’t break out of the rules set to them by society, just like a dancer goes into zombie state in the creation of patterns. All his philosophy tells him is more and more patterns…

    In all, a pattern dancer as very little to do with physical know-how, limitation, exuberance... It has to do with a mind that tells the body to pile pattern upon pattern. Mind in deep ponderous state searching for “what next”, physical body so good and experienced at connecting/lead-follow that it is in autopilot, yet mind working like a bull pulling sugarcane up a steep hill, in search for the next sugar mill (pattern).
     
  17. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    :shock: oh, oh, oh! I have been there! I was made to do things above my 'skill' and oh baby!!!! :lol: :banana: :lol: It is an incredible feeling. :banana: :lol:
     
  18. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    To me, a dead give away of a pattern dancer, is when he creates a million and one patterns, takes the girl exactly where he wants, all physical connection is there, yet the girl's face looks like, :doh: , can we dance together please! Hey, I'm here, did you see me not! Alright, how long can I hold this frozen smile? This one we haven't gone through, oooh, yeah, at least I'm entertained, ok, but we still not on the same page...
     
  19. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    You know what's wired... This happens to girls all the time, but when it happens to you as a guy, not because you meant to, or came up with it, but that the gril actually made you do something you know you just can't do. :bouncy: :bouncy: :bouncy: :bouncy: :bouncy: Ok, ok, ok, ok, again, again, please again, me likes that... :D
     
  20. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    hmmm... interesting post Boriken...

    :) you sound just like my ki aikido instructor (sort of...). He always says it's the body that governs the mind... slouching body, slouching mind... :)

    Whenever I'm tired, upset, sad... he tells me "Keep your back straight... and your mind frame will improve!"

    Yes, body language is very powerful if you ask me... I don't always see the signals, but they're there... and all it takes is for me to really pay attention...

    I'm sorry to bring this up (it's not really about dancing...) but I had an 'unofficial' relationship (he wanted it unofficial) and everybody (not close friends, 'cause most of them knew... strangers!) thought he was my boyfriend! Even though we never kissed in public, or held hands... or behave the way lovers do... and I was always wondering why...

    I got a strange answer: 'It is soooo obvious!' And I asked 'How come?' and the answer was: 'It's written all over your face!'... the funny thing was... it was written only on my face! :cry:
     

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