Salsa > Musicality?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by MacMoto, Jul 7, 2004.

  1. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    This was some real nice reading . . . thanks to all who contributed!
  2. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    It seems that it takes "getting" that first dance to acquire the basic motor skills or whatever it is and then the other dances seem to fall right in place. After Salsa, ECS, Country 2 Step, Night Club 2 Step, and sundry other ballroom and country dances, it took WCS before I finally "got it". I went on to Lindy from there (which includes ECS), so it wasn't until I went back to Country 2 Step and Night Club 2 Step that I found that I just picked them back up right away and was immediately dancing them better than ever before despite a three-year absense. And the same thing happened with the Salsa despite a four-year absense.

    I responded to your post mainly because of the Irish connection -- I'm Irish from my father's side (not counting one German 4 generations back who gave us the family name) and Scottish from my mother. In the Latin dance classes where "Spanish hips" were mentioned (Salsa & Rumba), I'd joke with my partner that mine are Irish and they don't know any Spanish yet, or even worse that one is Irish and the other Scottish and they can't seem to agree on anything. But now that I'm back in Salsa, that's one of the things I'm working on, though I haven't been brave enough yet to try it in front of a mirror.

    There was also an incident in an early Salsa class. During the warm-up at the start of class, I was concentrating so much on the footwork and the turns that I was just letting my arms hang straight down (another teacher calls such arms "deadwood"). Finally, the teacher got very upset with me and told us all to hold our arms up (elbows pointing down, forearms parallel to the floor) whether or not we knew what to do with them now, because we will know later. Well, he certainly taught me well with that; ever since then I've always been mindful of my arms. When I refer to that incident, I say that he didn't care at all for my "Irish Salsa".
  3. MapleLeaf Salsero

    MapleLeaf Salsero New Member

    DWise, I would have to agree with your instructor, arm placement is important. I had this guy in my class who did the exact same thing. It looked like his arms were "dead" and disconnected from his body. The instructor corrected him several times because of this, the problem was that in the next class, he would get back to his old bad habit...
  4. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Oh, I agree completely. Nor is it restricted to Salsa. Almost every other teacher I've had in all dances where there's an arm free (Irish dancing not included, which I haven't had yet anyway) has had to tell students to correct their "deadwood" arms. In WCS more importance seems to be placed on the women's left arm. In Lindy, the guys are taught right-arm placement as a matter of style, so that they can look like Lindy hoppers. Hustle and NC2S also place great importance on the arms as part of styling.

    It seems that most neophytes and non-dancers think of dancing mainly in terms of doing the steps. But there so many different aspects involving the whole body -- and the mind and spirit too, I believe -- that also need to be learned.
  5. SalseraLaura

    SalseraLaura New Member

    LOL the only dancing that im aware of where it is compulsory to have "deadwood arms" is traditional irish dancing.

    growing up in a catholic environment like ireland, being sexy is discouraged. when i was about 12 i was trying to copy the dancing from mtv in my living room, when my dad came in and saw me moving my hips i was banned from watching mtv!! lol there is also a stigma attached to dancing in ireland, its only acceptable if youre drunk, and if youre a guy and you can dance you have to be hopefully one day the attitude in ireland will change towards dancing.
  6. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    This past year I heard a radio interview with Michael Caine. He said that when he started acting, he had to get married and have a kid way too young in order to prove to his father that he wasn't gay.

    On this forum we've been hearing the voicing of that same attitude among the US macho crowd. That might be part of the explanation for the thread wondering why so many middle-aged men get into dancing (or rather wait until middle age to start): we finally reach a point in our lives when we get fed up with that macho idiocy.

    Though that still doesn't explain me.
  7. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    being one with the music in itsself has to be the biggest rush.. its not just a rythm u count and move on.. no.. its the whole u.. your being becomes one with the music.. u are music.. thats when u dance true.. the senses can never be sharper.. the hum of electric currents going through your every fiber.. in all directions at the same time.. euphoria.. heightened conciousness.. as if you are moving in slow motion .. caught in your favorite dream.. hollow yet full to the brim.. weightless.. it tickles.. everywhere .. it tickles!.. u actually feel your soul come out to the surface of your skin and cover it.. its so beautiful.. so beautiful .. oh Lord in high heaven .. thank u.. thank u.. thank u till forever.
  8. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    Yup, this is what dancing is all about!
  9. Istel

    Istel New Member

    Hiya people, am new to this forum... just in case anyone asked, I dropped by here from a link at SalsaMafia and after reading quite a number of threads, I've decided that this will be a good place to hang out for a while :D (since the peepz at SalsaMafia's forum seem to unleash their flametorch at unwary salsa noobs pretty often :lol: )

    I've been dancing salsa for eh... close to half a year? I salsa to the 1 but will be taking up 2 when the availability of such lessons reaches my shores. Although I've taken close to more than 30 group salsa lessons and dancing on the average of 6-8 hrs of salsa a week and practising my basics on my own around 1-2 hrs a night. I still think that I pretty much suck at it :( I wonder if it's possible to train up your lead on your own, without a partner?

    Also, the peepz dancing around my area know lotsa moves but problem is they look pretty dead while doing it... They just kept doing moves after moves without interpreting the music (I'm guilty of the same charge as well :oops: ) The only few that really dance to the music and do it exceptionally well are well... instructors and eh some salsa performance team members...

    So I wonder if anyone can shed some insights on how to improve one's music interpretation, as well as ways to improve the guys' styling(if there's such a thing :? ) would really appreciate it!

    Thanks in advance :D
  10. Tasek

    Tasek New Member

    Welcome to DF Istel, hope you like it here.

    Not really, you can go through the motions, but without the force feedback of an actual human being opposite you it's just not the same.

    Listen to the music 24/7, look at other dancers you admire, practice, practice, practice, try to get input from as many different dancers/teachers as possible and never lose the attitude that it's all about the music (and your partner ofcourse, never forget your partner). And then in time it will come to you.
  11. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    Welcome to DF, Istel :D. Good to see another salsero on board.

    I believe many leaders practise moves on their own, either using props or with "an invisible follower" :wink:. I think it's easier for the leader to practise with an invisible follower (who never backleads!) than the follower to practise with an invisible leader (who's lead is non-existent :lol:), but there's no substitute for dancing with real people, really. Always ask women to dance after group classes, and also don't be shy about asking people to dance at clubs. There may well be female regulars in your class who are looking for a practice partner -- it's worth asking around.

    Listen to lots of salsa music. If you don't have a salsa music collection at home, start building one. When you hear a song you like at a class or club, as the teacher/DJ what it is and where you can get it.
    Listen to salsa music in two ways: first, really listen. Focus on the music and how it makes you feel -- what emotions it brings out from you. Be aware of the beat and the dynamics of the rhythm, and note every pauses, hits, build-ups... Imagine you are part of the music. You are the music.

    Now, in the second stage, start thinking about how you would express this music through dancing. Start slow with closed hold basic... more movements as the music builds up... cuddles and haircombs to match the romance of the melody... something sharp and showy like a copa-turn pattern to accentuate the breaks... some shines, body movements and styling for the funky descarga... that sort of thing. Not really choreographing but having a general feel of how you would like to interpret different moods of salsa music. Also, practise to music. Let the music tell you what move to do.

    When you go out dancing, relax and listen to the music as you start dancing. Look at your partner with a smile and see how she responds to the music and to your lead. Always, always dance with her -- that's what partner dancing is all about. Are you getting positive vibes from her? Now it's time to play -- let yourself go!
  12. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    .. and remember.. it comes from inside Istel.. let it rise out.. leaving all intimidations and worries behind.. Musicality requires sense Purity

    this may seem unclear to u now.. but in time it'll make sense
  13. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    Hi Istel, Welcome to the DF Family! :D
  14. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Welcome Istel...

    I'm going to take a different approach hoping to convey the massage of musicality and your display of emotions within it.

    Be aware of yourself, be aware of what you like, how you walk, how you run, how your feet move, how your arms move, how your body moves, and how your heart beats...

    Then put yourself in this situation:
    If I were making love to a woman to this one song, what would I Do? What emotions would I hope to pass to hear, and generate from her? How would I hold her? For how long? When will I be "rougher"? When will I be smoother? When will I be sensual? When would I be playful? When will I allow her to take over, lead me, sooth me? I stress lovemaking over sex for sex to males is usually a selfish display of desires. While lovemaking is the union of two people as one, that Istel, is what you must strive for. To become so one with your partner as per the music that there will be a seemingly disappearance of the dancers into one.

    Chances are that if you have been in love, you have made love to a woman causing you to been overtaken by emotions that were “dictated” by the setting/events/person, at the moment.

    The key to salsa is when to know how to be physically together with a woman, know the how and when of leading a woman through a world of ecstasy based on the music. When I say how and when I don't mean to patterns and moves, but touch/feel, emotions, the Istel that only a loved one has gotten to know. Remember that everyone can do moves, but what can you do that will be unique? Feelings baby! Feelings!!! Know when the music calls for lovemaking’s sister and react accordingly, if you pay attention to yourself while you go about your everyday life chances are that your body will react to sounds, people, events in a certain way, those same feelings and reactions are what you will look to accentuate in your dancing. The music will put you in places where you are familiar with, “knowingly or unknowingly”, use them to your advantage. If you see that you tend to lose control of your feelings while dancing and want to completely fly away with patterns, DON’T. Stop yourself and focus on her, let her be your desires in the dance rather than moves being the goal in the dance. Focus all your passion or feelings at the moment on her!

    When your feelings touch the other person you will create an union that will undoubtedly cause your mistakes to be her mistakes, hence creating the perfection never seen in a mistake, for both of you have committed the same.

    Once you get in touch with your inner most emotions you will not need to learn, nor worry about styling for your own body will react like it only can. You will become Istel in the dance, not a make up of styles from other people, but rather Istel inner dancing busting out in salsa. If you care to further expand what Istel is then by all means seek what others do and take what you like and make it part of you. However, don’t make Istel into them, but rather a particular move from a person Istel.

    Always keep in mind that it isn’t what you do, but how you do what you do. Take the lady for a stroll in the clouds while being embraced by passion and she will forever be gracious of the opportunity to share a part of heaven while in the arms of Istel.

    It is about love dear Istel, if the focus is ever shifted from there, you have lost the very essence that salsa is. Listen to yourself, pay attention to yourself, let your inner most feelings control your dancing and you will have not a worry about musicality, for what you will be doing is very much the union of a body to the music: MUSICALITY.
  15. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    Are u reading this ladies..? hmmm.. 8) .. i think i'm gona make reservations in the hospital emergency rooms just incase they get some serious heart ouchies there :wink: ..
  16. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    :oops: :oops:

    Salsa baby, SALSA!!!
  17. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    Boriken, you are one of a kind. :) Veeerrrry nice!

    :oops: Whew! I need glass of water. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
  18. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Dear Peach, thank you so very much!!! I'm just happy to share a little love with all of us. :D :D :D

    Again, thank you for the kind words!
  19. Istel

    Istel New Member

    Thanks a lot everyone, for the the warm welcomes :D

    Wow, that was some heavy reading materials... :shock:

    You were spot on about the part, where I tended to lose my feelings or should I say overwhelmed by it halfway through the song especially when it's progressing faster... forgetting about my partner, speeding up on my moves and losing count of the beat... Also I tended to forget how to execute newly learnt moves that sounded just like the right thing to do with the music then in nervousness, and just rely on the enchuflas and la luna that I've learnt during my beginners lessons...

    Another problem is that, due to the fact we do LA Style here or lack of musical education on salsa, everyone seems to dance LA Style to everything that's being played... (though people will still do merenge and bachatas to their respective numbers) or they'll do the Rueda wheel to just about any songs and be a big space killer :lol:

    How can I learn to differentiate all the various influence of music in Salsa? I would love to know when a song is a cuban one or when it's other style?

    Thanks again for all the lovely advices, will try to put them into use next time when I'm out dancing, keep them coming in though :p

    I knew I'll feel at home here :oops: :D
  20. Big10

    Big10 Member

    Here are my thoughts on "musicality":

    Musicality is a combination of (1) letting your body express what you are feeling from the music and (2) having a repetoire of moves sufficiently large to allow such expression. Of course, it doesn't have to be 100 moves -- or 50, or even 20. You just basically have to be able manifest a clear distinction in your movement to match a change in the music (tempo, instrumentation, passion in the vocals, etc.).

    When I say "moves" I'm talking about personal body movement as well as turn patterns. Indeed, you could be doing just a standard closed basic, but sense the musical change and then rotate a bit, or perhaps lengthen/shorten your steps, or undulate your body if you can. Perhaps you're partnering, but sense a musical interlude where it becomes appropriate to solo/shine -- and then partner up again when that musical interlude is over. Maybe there's a lyrical refrain/chorus, where you decide to repeat a specific move each time the refrain starts up again, but not at other points in the song.

    If you want to get more sophisticated with your musicality, then that's when you have to be comfortable with different body movements -- such as using your arms or hips or shoulders to mark accents in the music. Practicing at home helps A LOT. It also helps to practice certain moves in a mirror, so that you can decide what movements look appropriate for your body, as well as developing some muscle memory when it finally looks and feels "right."

    There have been some steps that seemed awkward to me when I first tried them, even though I thought the steps looked really cool for other people. After practicing them at home 20 or 30 or 40 times, they finally started to seem "natural" enough so that I could try them at the club for the first time. Even so, you do have to acknowledge that you might look "silly" sometimes. There's a bit of trial and error involved to find out what will consistently work for you on a dance floor.

    Yet, the more natural you allow a particular body movement to become, the easier it is to integrate with your other moves -- and sometimes you'll do it without even planning it! That's when you'll know that you're truly feeling the music, and you've allowed the music itself to dictate your movement. That's musicality.

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