Salsa > Private lessons for salsa?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by pygmalion, Nov 22, 2003.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Okay. So I'm a ballroom dancer. When I decided to learn salsa as well, the first thing I did was sign up for private lessons. But, according to the salseros/salseras here and other places, salsa is just a natural dance -- feel the music, and do what the music moves you to do. So question -- where's the balance? Is there value in private lessons for salsa? How about group lessons? Or can you just go the the clubs and pick it up on your own? And where does practice fit in?
  2. Salsero_AT

    Salsero_AT New Member

    Well, that is not an easy question.

    First of all you must know that i did not any dancing before i started with salsa three years ago. I went to a salsa club one time and i was immediately fascinated. So i started taking group lessons in this club. Essentialy all i have learned i learned from group lessons in clubs. Be it Casino of LA style.

    But i have practiced a lot at home, especially in the beginning. I practized the basic step for hours at home in the first year or practized LA style patterns with my dance partner.

    As far as private lessons are concerned i did not do any. But a girl from our rueda goup went ot Cuba this summer and had some private lessons with Cubans dance instructors (female and male) and she said it was great and helped her a lot.

    In salsa the main thing is to express yourself. By taking lessons and practicing you aquire the tools to do just that in a better way but the lessons cannot teach you what you will do when dancing and flowing with the music. That you have to learn and discover by yourself. Because i never danced before salsa i had to learn many things to be able to start expressing myself when i dance (and keeping the rythm at the same time ;) ) but that is surely different with you because you have danced a lot before.

    I would say go to clubs... watch people dancing .... and think about how you feel when dancing. Are you comfortable when dancing ? What things do you see when you see people dancing ? If there is a particular style or move you want to know then why not take group lessons ?

    Ehm i hope this was not too confusing... :oops: I had to fight with my English a little bit here...... :shock: :)
  3. jenibelle

    jenibelle New Member

    Hi Pygmalion,
    I'm a relatively new dancer...I have never danced ballroom, just latin dances and when I started, I started with group lessons for a while and it was going very well but still lacking a little something. I had TWO private lessons from an amazing teacher and when I went to the clubs after, the people were astounded ("Jeni you finally learned STYLE!" "Jeni you're a dancer now!" and "Jeni it's a miracle!")

    This is partly because he took one look at me and corrected a few minor things that my group instructor was too busy to notice. Then he spent about 30 mins on my frame and gave me a few pointers which I practised by myself like crazy.

    It's also partly because he taught me to relax and just feel the music, which is what you mentioned before! So yes, salsa is about feeling the music but sometimes you need a bit of help to get there...i really recommend private lessons even if it is just a couple!

    Happy dancing!
    Jeni :p
  4. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Pygmalion, can I just say that I love your attitude towards dancing, and how you seek to learn more about it. :D :D

    My first thought to a person who has never taken a salsa lesson in their lives is to go to group classes, then after a while go to privates. Why? Because as a new dancer is best that you interact with other new dancers as opposed to matured dancers. After you’ve gotten started with the group classes and you know what to expect then you move on the a private where the instructor can give you more detailed attention and clarify and correct any mistakes. But hey, as Fernando said in on of his articles, if you don’t know something is wrong how can you correct it? Hmmm. You can definitely pick up moves at the club, however, in most cases only he who is trained in the move can give you the little details about that particular move. Practice moves as you would any other dance, but to practice feeling the music you must listen to it obsessively and pay careful attention to emotions being raised by the music. When you become one with the music you will notice a sense of the disappearance of time, you will feel weightless, you will feel as if there is no one around you, your mind will go blank. As sport players call it, you will be in the ZONE. It will be you and your partner, you will move as one through the floor, moves will become not only an extension of your soul speaking to you but also an extension of the music itself.

    The first key to salsa dancing salsa isn’t putting steps together and then doing them on the floor, but feeling the music. You must first feel the music. If you don’t feel the music there is no way in heck that you can dance and look as one with the music. That might be the case to those who don’t know what they are looking at, but to those that see behind the fancy footwork, we’ll know that you aren’t feeling the music and we’ll notice how you never became one with the music. Regardless of what pattern combination or mastery of the dance steps you achieve.

    A balance between steps and feeling the music is only achieved by what the music itself tells you to do. Feeling the music has to happen 100% of the time, while moves don’t.
  5. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    Borikensalsero, well said as always. :notworth: :D :D :D
  6. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Wow. Love to quote ya, Boriken....! (if you are writing a book, I am buying it!!)

    :notworth: :notworth: :notworth:
  7. MadamSamba

    MadamSamba Member

    Hey, in full agreeance with Boriken...I'm a ballroom dancer too and adore it, but there's just something fabulous about salsa, a freedom and fluidity of movement that just sings with your soul.

    I stared in group lessons to learn the basics, then moved through to intermediate and have just started advanced classes. My ballroom teacher is great, but his favourite style of dancing is salsa, so I often warm up in privates doing salsa and, when I'm not working on a specific goal will get him to teach me new moves.

    That said, there's no lesson like getting out there. You can learn in isolation and dance salsa brilliantly with one person, but the sheer variety of dances and styles available in salsa is mind-blowing and the only way to gain confidence and an ability to shift quickly between different styles is to dance in public with a range of people.

    The best bit is that you get to see some awesome dancing, often from people who've been in the scene longer than you and, often, travelled or interacted with salseros/salseras from across the world and have picked up gorgeous little stylings and moves that you might never have come across.

    So, the gist of that very long-winded answer is privates are great, but they are in a way like learning theory over practice...there ain't no such thing as the real thing! :)
  8. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    I will second to that!
    The 'street' is an amazing place :shock: (so, will all of you studio dancers who are not in a habit of going out, plz, plz check out your local scene.....?!) :wink:
  9. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Definitely. The travelling factor is what make salsa great...!

    Just this past weekend we had a vistor from Germany who dances like a true Cuban :D !

    So, guys, no matter where you are, if there's a new face in the scene have a chat/dance with them...! Chances are they are your fellow salsa nuts too....! :wink: (I'm SO sure many of you are doing it already.....)
  10. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    :oops: :oops:
    I'm actually putting essays together about social salsa dancing which one day hope to get published... It's a little dream of mine... :D
  11. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Good on you, mi hermano :D
    I'm right behind you on that dream :bouncy: !
  12. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I have the same situation. One of my ballroom teachers is a serious LA style salsera, so our lessons are a mix of ballroom styling and cool salsa moves. :D

    I agree. It's amazing how many people will go to class but will allow fear to keep them away from the clubs, when the clubs is where you really get to take your show on the road and dance!
  13. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    I think it's best to just learn where you're comfortable learning. I have friends that have never taken one lesson, but I also have friends that swear by privates. There are so many differing paths to reach wherever it is you wish to take your salsa!
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hmm. Good input, youngsta. That's kinda what I thought. I'm used to privates, so privates may do me good. But a salsera from LA who's been doing this all her life may find privates a waste. Hmm. fod for thought. :?
  15. I found taking private lessons absolutely invaluable. After almost two years of group salsa lessons, I still was not able to lead much of anything, and hardly ever went out to clubs, due to (well-justified) lack of confidence. When a group class I had been planning on taking was canceled, I decided to take up my teachers invitation to take private lessons. I wish I had done so earlier.

    I took private lessons (along with lots of supplemental group classes) for two years. An injury prevented me from doing anything aerobic for about half a year. I was able to resume dancing and lessons later, but I never quite returned to having lessons as regularly as I had previously. It's been about a year since I've had any private lessons (for complicated reasons I won't go into). I would like to pick up again in the future, probably with a new teacher. (In fact, I have someone in mind. It's just not convenient to get to him at the moment.)

    But getting back to the question: I seriously doubt that I would have become as competent at leading as I am now if I hadn't taken private lessons. Of course, if you take the lessons but don't start to go out and put what you've learned into practice, you aren't going to learn nearly as much, and you aren't going to be able to test yourself to see what you actually know.

    I'm not at the highest level of dancers, but I know how to dance.

    I sometimes wonder if taking lots of group lessons is such a good thing for followers. Often followers end up learning to "do" the correct combination, rather than learning to follow. This can create some pretty bad habits.
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yup, HothouseSalsero. If they're not careful, follows can learn some bad habits in group classes, since they're following the pattern the teacher is calling out, rather than the person who's leading, in many cases.

    Warning: off topic How's the weather in Philly? I was born and raised there, and my sisters and brother still live there. I have a craving for a cheesesteak and a tastykake. :oops: :cry:
  17. Incidentally, one thing I wanted to add is that while I would generally recommend private lessons, it's not as though I think it's the only way to go. Different people start off with different abilities. Frankly, I think I have been a slow learner. Fortunately, I've enjoyed the process of learning, so that hasn't been a problem. Also, of course, it's not always affordable. I lucked into a situation where I got what I think was a good deal on private lessons.
  18. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    I am beggining to really think that I will truly benefit from private classes. Recently I went to a few group classes (after YEARS of not going to any class), but got bored after a while.

    After years of dancing at the clubs/in the street, I find it so hard to fit into the studio environments again! For starters, it's so hard to find the correct level for me....!

    When the finance situation improves, I'd love to take some privates. I am hoping to reach the next level & break from my plateau.
  19. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Good luck with that salsachinita!! You're the one that does knitting, right? I wishing lots of extra special knitting workshops/camps/lessons for you to conduct!! :)

    You are right about it getting kind of boring if you know something / group class is not at the right level for you. Sometimes if a move is being beaten to death and I want something else I sort of go off and do my own thing with the tacit acceptance of the partner of the moment. However, I still a dancing babie, so group classes are still worth it overall!! :) I do see privates in the future, though. I have done some for other dances and they have proven immensely useful.
  20. Philadelphia

    It's been kind of icky lately. It rained heavily yesterday and I twice managed to step in a puddle of water I didnt see, once on the way to work and once on the way back home. (No, it wasn't the same puddle.) I enjoy the snow though, at least until it all turns to slush.

    I grew up in Philadelphia and various places in Delaware County.

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