Salsa > Lead Your Partner, Not Patterns!

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by SDsalsaguy, Aug 9, 2003.

  1. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Some advice for newer leaders: remember, you’re leading your partner, not just patterns! Many people seem to make the mistake of thinking that a good leader is someone who can make any partner, of any level, do any pattern…nothing could be further from the truth. A good leader is someone who can dance with any partner. As such, being a good leader means being sensitive your partner’s abilities and style, and adjusting accordingly—not just trying to force every partner into an identical mold.

    Ask women who they’d rather dance with: (1) a guy with a repertoire of only five “moves” but who leads them well and on time, or (2) a guy who knows 50+ patterns but isn’t always smooth or on time with them. The answer is almost always guy #1…

    So, what does it mean to lead your partner rather then a pattern? For one thing, just because you know a pattern doesn’t mean that you should lead it! Does the pattern suit your partner’s ability and style? What about the floor conditions? The music? What about variations in height and arm length? All of these elements are dynamic variables that vary from partner to partner and dictate against a one-size-fits-all approach to leading.

    Another such consideration pertains to the sensitivity and responsiveness. Say you launch your partner into a set of multiple spins…just because you originally had a certain number in mind, say six, there is nothing inviolate about that number. If your partner is having a balance problem, then it’s your responsibility as a leader to get her out of the spins smoothly; not to force them. Again, what are you leading, a pattern or your partner?

    Similarly, how much pressure do you actually use to execute your various leads? Here too a one-size-fits-all approach is an all too common mistake. The “ideal” lead will provide as little pressure as is necessary. The responsiveness and sensitivity of your follower will, inevitably, vary from partner to partner—so why shouldn’t the lead provided to each vary in kind? One of the best ways to work on this element is to seek feedback from your best resource, your partners!
  2. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    In a telling twist of fate I heard a new term tonight..."a pattern dancer." I was asking one woman if the lead of the guy she had just finished dancing with was as rough as it looked, her response was "Yes, it is, he's a pattern dancer."
  3. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    I really agree with the part about "matching" ability/height/arm length. I've danced with people shorter than me that wanted to do cuddles etc which is very hard when you have to duck down to avoid an arm in the face :/
  4. msc

    msc New Member

    Well, there's lots of pattern dancers out there ... from beginners all the way to the top of the food chain. It's not necessarily a bad thing, although an overly rough lead is never good. Matching your lead to the abilities of the follow is really difficult too, though it's a little easier in the open position dances, like Salsa.
  5. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    msc...we may, ultimately, be saying the same thing but I disagree with your statement as I read it. Perhaps, however, the issue is that we have different conceptualizations of what it means to be a pattern dancer. In my mind, and as it was used, it means letting your patterns control you rather then vice versa. Obviously we all learn and use patterns—the issue is whether we adapt them as needed or try and force their execution despite any number of counter-indicating variables. Also, to my way of thinking any rough lead is problematic, not just an “overly rough” one.
  6. msc

    msc New Member

    This is probably the case. When I think of pattern dancer, generally I think of dancing where the follow executes a series of moves based on, well, pattern recognition. That is to say, there's very little in the way of tactile communication, rather both individuals sort of do their respective parts, and the follow knows what to do based on past experience. Basically, if the couple can't excecute the pattern with their eyes closed (and no foreknowledge on the part of the follow,) that's pattern dancing. Not that I have anything against that type of lead/follow, as many enjoy it, even top competitive couples.

    True enough. However, a rough lead may not be due to the guy "manhandling " the lady, as it were. For example, a strong lead for a powerful follow may very well be too "rough" of a lead for a weaker follow. The American spin lead comes to mind ... if I know a woman can really turn, I'll really torque my torso and push into that lead with my legs, and the follow will often get three quick spins from the lead (one woman I danced with pulled off four spins over the 567 of a salsa song ... whoa.) On the other hand, a weaker follow would probably be thrown off balance by that lead. As you said, you need to adapt to the follow.
  7. franceon2

    franceon2 New Member

    Hello, salseros
    lets no leave out dancing on beat. If you cannot dance on beat and are constantly swithing beats then the lead is not going to be smooth and easy to follow. If you are going to start the song dancing on 1 then stay on 1 through the entire song. If you are on 1 then on3 then on5 the person who is following has to keep adjusting their feet which makes it very hard to follow. A good leader knows about the music just like a musian. When they are playing the band is in harmony with each other all playing together. If you are going to dance to the music then be in harmony with it.
  8. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    No arguments from me franceon2, I was just adressing a different issue here. Check out, for example, one of the very first points I make in Learning to Lead...timing!
  9. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Just pulled this excerpt from Edie's review (in her August Newsletter) of the 1st Korean Salsa Congress. Notice how it's the leading that sets these guys apart....and not their ability to "perform," do tricks, or do mega-patterns!

  10. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    the proportions of arm influences how i lead (multiple) turns; followers with proportionally longer forearms generally get a wider radius if i'm helping them complete the spin. this is counter-intuitive as the relative shortness of their upper arm makes you more inclined to go through a smaller radius and keep their hand closer to their head - and gives you less torque.
    and on the main topic, there's an actress who's had leading roles in a number of TV shows who started lessons at a studio in hollywood about 6-8 months ago. at a dance last week friday (not last night) it was just awful to watch how all these guys were leading moves she just couldn't follow smoothly. i don't think they were trying to show off necessarily but they kept leading move after move that left her looking off-balance. after the pack had finished marking their territory <grin> i asked her to do a foxtrot. i started with the simplest patterns and worked my way up slowly. i had one minor mishap near the end where i tried to lead a release move and prepped her to do a 1.5 chaine turn & she ended up pivoting in place but i had people telling me later that i made her look the smoothest during the entire evening. and that's what it's all about. if you make your followers look and feel graceful as possible and keep them on the beat, you will never lack for dance partners.
  11. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    :lol: I like this term very much!
  12. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Most of this applies equally to AT. coud you post it there as well?
  13. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah . . . it so describes some dancers too, doesn't it? :headwall:
  14. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Gald you liked it bordertangoman! :D

    And, per your request, I've reposted it in the AT froum as well.

    I'm curious though... while I wrote it about salsa, I think it probably is generally apllicable to any/all partner dancing. Aside from the spinning part, is there anything there that deosn't fit AT? (Hmm, maybe you'd better respond to that over in the AT version.)
  15. MapleLeaf Salsero

    MapleLeaf Salsero New Member

    I think pattern dancers are the dominant species in the salsa world...
  16. DrivenSubstance

    DrivenSubstance New Member

    same applies for Ballroom dancing.

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