Salsa > Salsa’s Big Lie

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by afroarabano, May 11, 2006.

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  1. afroarabano

    afroarabano New Member

    What do you think about what Mr Sanchez says. as i think he is right, when ever i go to bar salsa (in london uk) on a monday dancers are doing moves after moves even when the music is slow.

    There is a big lie going on on the salsa scene. The big lie is that people believe when they move their bodies, their feet and their hands they’re dancing, writes Elder Sanchez.
    I think it’s our mistake - I mean all of us as teachers – because we’ve taught people in Europe to dance using their feet and hands first before we’ve taught people how move their bodies. We’ve created movers not dancers who dance rhythmically to music.
    I’ve got nothing against New York style, but it requires a lot of big moves and takes a lot of space. People watch performers dancing on stage and they think these are the best dancers and they want to copy them. But it’s not possible to reproduce this style on the social dance floor. You can’t dance in the same way on the social dance floor. What performers do on a stage is rehearsed 100 times to get it right – you can’t do that in social dancing and you can’t use the space amount of space.
    The result is social dancers in Europe want big dance floors – but they aren’t listening to the music when they dance. They move to the music, make moves they know to the music – but moving to music is not the same as dancing to music. This makes social dancing too technical, too mechanical.
    This problem has created the problem of poor bar takings. People think they’ve got to learn everything 120 per cent and not make mistakes so they’ve got to be sober 120 per cent. These technical moves can’t be reproduced if you drink. So nobody drinks, everybody drinks tap water and you need vast spaces to perform moves.
    This isn’t salsa. Salsa is a social dance. It’s about having fun. It’s not about shows and competition. Salsa as a social dance for fun is not the same as salsa as performance or in a competition. These are totally different things.
    Elder Sanchez, Founder and Managing Director Salsoteca Dance School - Posted Thursday 11 May 2006
  2. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    Afroarabano, welcome to DF.

    I do not have the time just now to go into it, but I disagree with some of what Elder has written above. "Nobody drinks"? Drinks what? Alcohol? Bottled water? Soft drinks? People do drink, it is a question of what - it is very difficult to go through the night if dancing a lot without drinking anything, even if it has been smuggled in.

    If you/he is talking about alcohol well, it is by choice for many people. I myself drink very little alcohol, by choice. I do not like the taste, my body does not handle it well. As much as I love salsa, I cannot and will not buy alcoholic drinks to support the bar takings. I do buy soft drinks but when I am being charged £1.50 for a glass (!!!) not a can or bottle of coke then I do have to do some thinking. That said, in addition to the entrance fee, I generally do spend a certain amount at the bar and that is it.

    People can only listen to the music if that is what they are taught/told to do. In my opinion, this is entirely different to the reason why bar takings are poor. The takings are poor period! This has nothing to do with people moving or dancing to the music.

    I am aware that english is not Elder's first language and therefore what you posted (if it is verbatium) may not be exactly what he meant. That said, I still disagree.
  3. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    Re "moving your body" and not just your hands and feet - this I would say is very much a cuban (afro dance) thing. I saw you wrote in another post that you love Cuban. Great. So do I. However, as you may be aware, only a very small percentage of teachers even mention isolations or do warm up exercises to in the classes. Frankie Martinez (NY) and Irene Miguel (was UK based) are a couple of teachers who have talked about this in their classes. Incidentally, both of them are On 2 teachers. (Irene I believe does dance On1 but specialises in On2 now.) As for the Cuban dance teachers in the UK, they "move their bodies" but they don't necessarily teach it themselves. I think Osbanis may be an exception but it has been a while since I did a class with him, that the memory is a bit rusty...
  4. amrimi

    amrimi New Member

    Absolutely agree with that.

    When I first started to learn Salsa we spend the first two ar 3 lessons with just getting a feel for the music. We were told to just try to move to the music in any way we like but to listen to the changes in speed and stuff like that. To me that approach had really made a difference.

    Might be the fault of a certain London based Instructor who is to much into doing tons of different moves instead of listening to the music. (I know this statement will probably upset quite a few people here, but that's just my personal opinion. You're free to think different about it.)
  5. afroarabano

    afroarabano New Member

    thanks for the welcome::::

    i don't drink Alcohol my self but i do try to buy OJ or soft drinks or water.
    but i mean about the dancing to the music Vs moves after moves.
  6. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

  7. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    i think there's a mix up people have between what they see on stage as in shows and routines in events etc.. and social dancing.. they are both different animals with different settings and emotions.. different purposes .. different deals .. different sub-art forms within the same art..

    otherwise, it may take time for people to realize that dance generates from the inside - out .. and untill they get there they may need time working at it from outside - in.. thats okay.. we were born with different talents with different rates and experience different circumstances..

    i dont appreciate generalization of dance and perceptions cause the whole idea is versatility and difference.. thats the spice of art.. but i do think from observation and experience that too many people dance mechanically over emotionally/spiritually and musically but then we'll enter into subjectivity to no end..

    at least they are dancing.. even if its not in the way that one may get excited about.. but, by doing so .. they are on their way to it .. albeit via different road(S) and if i am any indication .. change is inevitable if u dance long enough .. with love ..
  8. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    Afroarabano, I agree with Elder Sanchez that there are a lot of salsa dancers who just do moves and don't pay attention to music. I agree that teachers' approach and performer worship contribute to this. This subject has been discussed here before, and you may be interested in some of the old threads on this topic (in which I've already stated my view):
    Lead Your Partner, Not Patterns!
    Why one should learn patterns
    In defence of patterns

    However, I disagree with Elder's suggestion that this is a New York style problem. Neither do I agree with the view that New York style takes up space (where I dance, the biggest floor hoggers are drunk non-dancers trying to dance :evil:, followed by rueda circles). And this to me is nothing to do with "dancing to music vs. doing moves" or about different styles of salsa. It's simply bad floorcraft and disregard for other dancers.

    In the salsa scene up here (esp. in Glasgow where Cuban style is dominant), we see debates/flame wars happen now and again along similar lines -- i.e., "Cuban style is superior because it's about feeling the music. NY/LA style is mechanical and all about technique and moves". It annoys me greatly as that has not been my experience at all (I dance LA/NY and Cuban). You get "movers" in both camps as well as great dancers with a feel for music.

    Poor bar takings are a problem in keeping salsa clubs going, but I disagree that this happens because people are obssessed with moves as suggested by Elder. Nor do I think salsa dancers not drinking makes salsa less fun or less of a social dance. I enjoy myself much more in a salsa club full of sober salsa dancers who are there to dance/do moves than in a mainstream night club full of men fuelled by liquid courage tyring to pick up women.
  9. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    100% agree with Macmoto!

    Even though I do drink alcohol while Salsa dancing (mostly beer).
  10. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Hmm...not sure why I just lost my last post..but...

    Salsa does not lie. People may choose to show/teach partial truths. Many just want moves and that's what they get. Others seek more and even i f theer aren't classes seek and find what they desire, either by listening and moving freely to the music...watching videos...
  11. Salcero

    Salcero Member

    Opinions are like eyes ... everyone has one. Everyone wants to pontificate and say their perception is the truth. In general, people need to be more humble and realize that what they express is only THIER OPINION.

    For instance, the person talks about the NY style of salsa. What is the NY style of salsa? Some people that don't know better think everyone in NYC dances NY On2. Not even everyone in NYC that dances On2 dances NY On2. For example, some people dance Power On2.

    NYC has many styles of salsa. Some people learn how to dance on their grandmother's combat boots in the kitchen while she was making rice and beans, others went to a dance school, and still others come out of the Hustle days.

    The author says you can't do performace moves in social dancing, but I see performance moves done in a social setting all the time ... whether its NY On2, LA On1 or Rueda, etc.
  12. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Speaking of different sides of the truth; when does perspective broaden to see the absolute? Can it ever?

    If there are many paths to one destination/dance, what causes the dancer to steer into a deeper meaning of dance?

    This all goes back to the belief that students notice when they are being cheated. That isn't the case, hence, the many different paths, the many different perspectives of the absolute. Many teachers sole ability is teach the surface of a dance, at which point, students are ingrained with a knowledge that will forever limit their perspectives to that, which they can use the senses to grasp.

    It is not only a NY City symptom, but salsa overall has become a feet and hands style of dance. The blame; if there is one, where does it rest? Is there such a thing as blame? Is there such a thing as an educated consumer, when the very knowledge of that which is soughed, is absent?

    I had a teacher that called it fancy jogging. Yet, she was very aware of the many different paths.

    It is a jogging that masquerades the truth, but many of us have accepted it as the absolute. Then, use that very knowledge to delve the depths of snorkeling and call it scuba diving. Right or wrong isn't the matter, as sabor says, there are different paths, as saggitta states, they are different truths. I'd also like to add, that if knowledge gained, limits growth towards the absolute, then stagnant is the best possible achievement. Then and only then, in a game where right and wrong doesn't exist, I'll point towards a teacher that also needs to ask questions rather than teach believed "answers".

    Knowledge ties our hands, but because we've covered the truth with that which we can grasp, we'll never notice that snorkeling isn't scuba diving.

    It’s a web that goes deep down to the very rules we use to think. Those rules are the ones that grab knowledge, apply limits, and dump an arms and feet dancer into a path from which he’ll likely never get out. There might even never be a need to get out.
  13. alemana

    alemana New Member

    author is largely right - body movement and musicality are rarely taught anymore (not sure if they ever were) and many classes are just patterns workshops.

    i would say at least 50% of the people on the scene look like boxes with floundering appendages when they dance - sort of like bugs with exoskeletons and multiple waving arms and legs. many "good" dancers fall into that category.

    almost all the women in new york i know flee the partner class scene as early as they can in favor of ladies' styling classes, where, if they are lucky, they find an instructor who understands how to break down afro-cuban body movement and teach things other than "flick your wrist and fingers on six" (bad but not inaccurate oversimplification of ny-on2 ladies' styling mantra.) many of us want to learn deeper things than that, but not all of us can find the right scenario in which to do so.
  14. afroarabano

    afroarabano New Member

    thats the thing, not all but some don't dance FREELY, sometime i think, they are doing Move A, B, C..etc don't matter what the music is.

    but i do agree with Macmoto! and i think as long as it makes you happy..........
  15. Nowadays salsa has become all about competition and fancy moves and who looks better and who knows more complicated turns and who can spin how many times. I think this is in the nature of every movement that evolves and becomes so big and so popular.

    15 years ago when I started dancing salsa, it was all about having fun. Nobody cared whether you did this or that turn or you did not, we all gathered every weekend to have fun together and to dance the nights away. We felt like a "family" and hardly could wait from Sunday to the following Friday to get together again and enjoy together. Then, there was no such thing as ladies' styling, congresos etc.

    About technicality: You also have to consider that most people in the salsa scene worldwide nowadays are non Latinos. Latinos/latinas have moved their whole body from birth and have learned/imitated sexy body moves and sexy walking already from their mothers, aunts, grandmothers etc. So it comes natural to them. But it does not come natural to the rest of us who have grown up in Western societies (North America, Europe), Asia etc. In our societies you normally do not move like that and you have not learned those moves until you start dancing Latin dances. To us it is not always natural and we have to be taught. Also, in our cultures you go to dance schools and learn dances step by step and broken down turn patterns. In the Latin und African culture you learn dances from the time you learn how to walk and you learn them by imitation, not broken down into steps and patterns.

    That is why many people in the salsa scene nowadays look more technical. So what? If they are talented they will loose the "technical look" eventually. I know non Latinos who look much better on the dance floor than many Latinos (no offense intended here). In my opinion, this does not matter much as long as people are having fun, as long as they do not continuously step on you and get into your dance space.
    The problem here is not the technical look but that most people nowadays make salsa so competitive that they loose the fun aspect of it, for them it is all about competition. Also, the salsa scene is not like "family" anymore, there is a lot of competition in it and a lot of jealousy. I think that comes with the popularity.

    One just has to try to stay out of all these unpleasant side effects. You can still have a lot of fun nowadays in the salsa scene. It is just different to how it used to be. Nothing stays the same over time and I am happy that salsa has evolved and become so popular. Otherwise it would have disappeared eventually. Now you can go almost anywhere in the world and you will find a salsa venue. There are so many good classes and workshops out there to learn new things and to get new inspiration. And there are so many more good leads out there than there used to be.

    There will always be those "salsa professors" out there who think they have the absolute wisdom about salsa. And there are many of those...
    Whatever you do, learn, dance, don't forget: it is all about having fun!
  16. Salcero

    Salcero Member

    Very god point!!
  17. sweavo

    sweavo New Member

    Seconded! That was a passage that I've been struggling to figure out how to word for a long time!

    On the subject of the big lie, I think it's right to an extent. Many dancers are missing 80% of what makes dancing, while obsessing about repertoire. Many dancers are "encountering" heaps of people and not actually "socialising" with any of them. The only way to fix this is by example.


    It doesn't matter if you're more comfortable doing the robot than a body roll, get the hell out there and do it! Have a drink! Kid around! Dance like a bastard! Get hold of some of the music! learn to play the cowbell! (this is harder than it sounds, you'll be surprised!) You need a strong foundation in technique, but I never saw a great peice of architecture built entirely out of foundations...
  18. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    I know what you're trying to say, but it makes it sound like you're saying being technically correct is a bad thing. I think what you're referring to is the "robot" look... Make no mistake, the world's top salsa dancers are certainly technical! Ever take a styling and technique class? Not a bad thing eh? :wink: Good body rhythm and movement does not result from having a lack of technique but rather goes hand in hand with being technically good. Again, I know what you're saying but wanted to clarify.
  19. africana

    africana New Member

    absolutely. what else is new
  20. Joe Shenanigans

    Joe Shenanigans New Member

    The author makes a very valid point as do many of the previous posters. You can go to any club and spot cyber people with either blank expressions or faces contorted in concentration as they try to execute the latest killer combo oblivious to their partners, other dancers around them (ouch) or the music.
    That said I also think that those of us who have grown up immersed in music can be a tad unsympathetic towards the more rhythmically challenged who may start off robotically going through the motions until they learn to find their own groove.

    Unfortunately we live in a society where the prevailing attitude is I must have it bigger, faster, harder and yesterday. This spills over into how people go about learning salsa, encouraged by instructors who don't mention music until the end of the lesson, trying to "progress" through the various classes as quickly as possible until they reach that exalted advanced status and can look down their noses at lesser mortals who can't spin at 100 rpms, dance on 3.14 or style like a constipated drag queen with attention deficit disorder.

    The funny thing is that those who stay at the lower levels until they feel comfortable usually end up being better and a lot more fun to dance with than the accelerated advanced students who have trouble finding the beat in broad daylight with a map, torch and GPS system.

    Maybe if the alcohol consumption increased (or bars started adding Prosac to the tap water) salseros might loosen up a bit and try dancing with each other to that thing coming out the speakers.
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