Salsa > Shake it

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Danish Guy, Sep 23, 2003.

  1. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    I have to practice on the shoulders. I need some help on how to shake the shoulders.

    There is the slow thing, where you move your shoulders back and forth. This is improving. :)

    Then there’s the fast shake. I heard you don’t use the shoulders here, but the muscles along the spine. Like a dog shaking off the water. But I seem to end up shaking the knat or the stomach more than the shoulders. :shock: :oops: :lol:

    Can you help me out here?
  2. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    That's funny!
    I've always had trouble with this myself. I think you have to keep it small and fast, but I have the same problem...I move other parts of my body too much.

    Any help appreciated.
  3. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    That is way funny guys!

    As far as shaking the shoulders goes there are a few ways of doing it. The Afro-Cuban taught way is not by moving the shoulders themselves but by moving the ribcage. Try shaking the ribcage and you'll see the shoulders move. Since the shoulders are connected to the top of the ribcage they have no choice but to move. Now if you want to make the illusion that you are moving your shoulders then fastly shake your ribcage from side to side, back to forward, what ever direction you would like to see the shoulders move, while relaxing the shoulders. Relaxing them prevents the muscles from locking the shoulders in place. If you'd like, first stand with your arms down and way relaxed, kind of feeling the arms being pulled down by gravity. Then shake the rib cage, remember to concentrate on the ribcage and leave the shoulders totally relaxed. You'll see them move, it takes time for the few of us who are a bit stiffer, but with practice it becomes a lot easier and you'll soon look like a natural shaker. If you concentrate on moving the shoulders you'll prevent the muscles from relaxing, hence making it more difficult to move the shoulders at first.

    The trick is in ribcage, you can by pass the ribcage if you wish and move the shoulders, but the movement of the shoulders alone is very distinct, if you know what you are looking at you'll be able to tell who is using what technique to move the shoulders and also notice how "rough" looking the shoulders alone motion is. It looks like a forced motion as opposed to a natural relaxed one. Kind of like seeing yourself do the basic step as a beginner and seeing it again as an advance student. There is a world of difference.

    If you would like to do the forward and backward motion which gives the illusion that the shoulders are moving back and forth then move the ribcage back and forth and again back, forth. Some tend to describe it as chest out, chest in. After you are good with the single motion then try to double timing it. Our use a good song and stick your chest out every time you hear the 1 beat. Do it slowly at first until you get used to it and start feeling your upper body loosen up.

    The technique to move the shoulders is almost the same as getting the upper body lose except that energy is traveling all the way up to your shoulders instead of keeping it at the belly area. Once you are good losening up your upper body, then lift the arms to your normal salsa dance stance and notice how the shoulders seem to move when in reality the ribcage is the one doing all the moving. The shoulders will start flowing with the rest of the body as you dance, hence the smooth looking shoulder movement great afro-cuban dancers posses. Once you have learned to relax the upper body, then you can purposely move the shoulders and or use other muscles to increase the distance the shoulders travel when moving them. Until then, there is no use trying to move the shoulder if you are stiff. You'll look like you are having combulsions on the dance floor. :shock: That is the difference between a novice and a smooth shoulder shaker. Emphasize the ribcage and your shoulders/arms/legs/ even head will naturally flow no matter how fast you are dancing, and when dancing slow, your entire body will move like if it was part of the band - flawless. :D :D
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hey borijkensalsero.

    Does this mean that I shouldn't shake my shoulders? I know what you mean about the ribcage moving the shoulders. I do that. But every once in a while, when I'm feelin' it, my shoulders just move, like on their own, the same way my hips shake or my feet flick. Is this wrong?

  5. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Hey Jen,
    When you are out-there feeling it, let them shake all they want. It is about having fun and expressing it as it comes out.
    But if you are asking the question technically, then you shouldn't move the shoulders themselves, if you concentrate on the ribcage the shoulders will display their natural movement according on how the body is moving which to the onlooker looks way smooth and to the dancer, feels with more control, more compact, sexier, and readier to bust out a strong shake, or bounce when the music calls for it, as in all instruments hitting a big time down-beat on the one, or whatever beat it gets done.
    Once you become very good at moving your body and intune with your body you will notice a decrease in excess body movement. You will actually feel the music more than you do now, but the movements will be way more intune with the music, hence you will feel like you are another instrument in the band rather than dancing to the music. In all, there is such a thing as too much body movement when we dance, technically speaking of course. So get down all you want, and how you want on saturday nights. :D
  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Cool! When I'm dancing salsa, all I worry about is how I feel. I don't much worry about the technique stuff. I save that for ballroom. When I'm doing salsa, it's in a club, I'm feeling the music, and EVERYTHING moves however it pleases -- shoulders, hips, and all. :D


    Jenn :D
  7. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    That's what I'm talking about!!! Shake it baby, shake it!!! Oooops, don't shake too much that you might bump the couple next to you right out the floor. :tongue:
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    You will not believe this, but after I got your earlier post, I tried the shoulder shake thing. And guess what happened? My shoulders shook, but everything else (especially my rib cage) did too! I didn't realize it all this time, but I must have been doing it right. Now, when I head out this weekend, I can just have FUN! No worries about the technique :D :wink: 8)


  9. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    As we boricuas say.... WEPAAAAAAAAAAAAAA....
    now it's time to party!
  10. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    Thanks. I’m working on it. :D

    (This includes getting this wooden board somebody have nailed to my spine removed). :shock:
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    :D :D :D
    I want to see video! Actually, I would love to meet you in person, Danish Guy! You've got a great sense of humor and seem to be so nice. Any chance you can make it to the DF family reunion?

  12. mellody43

    mellody43 New Member

    haha this thread is hilarious!

    I think there is real finesse in being able to do the shoulders without everything else wiggling too -- the dog shaking off water is a GREAT example of how the whole body can engage. I do not want to look like a wet dog, and have not yet mastered a really good shoulder shake!

    I need to take belly dancing -- isolation is a HUGE part of it.

    But it is definitely from the back and stomach muscles, not from the shoulder muscles.

  13. brujo

    brujo New Member

    The shoulder isolation is a biatch.

    For the back and forth motion, you want to use the muscles located at the inside tips of your shoulderblades, right along the spine. Think of the muscles that get squeezed in the fly machine at the gym. To get more range and control, you want to look in the mirror, stretch your arms out and try to get your shoulderblades to touch each other in the middle. Make sure your shoulders are level and moving back. Then, slowly release one side, moving it forward until you can't anymore. As you move the next shoulder in, slowly slide the other one outwards until you cannot do it anymore. Repeat until you have it down smooth. After you get the full range, you can play with the motion, slowing it down, speed it out, exagerate it, etc. When you feel absolute control, you'll notice that if you move your arms down to salsa resting position, your shoulders will move back and forth nicely. I notice that when I do it at first, the spine rotates a bit, so you want to keep your spine straight and relaxed. You can also stand with your back close to a wall and try to hit the wall with the inside tip of your shoulderblade only.

    For the up and down motion, what you can do is to keep your hands next to your legs, straight, and raise your chest up in a 'I don't know' motion ( shrug ) until you can't move your chest up anymore. Once again, lower one shoulder slowly, and you'll see how the emphasis is created.

    Hope this helps.
  14. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    Hey Danish Guy, how did you get on? It is more than a year since you posted this :wink:

    I have tried what Boriken suggested, just moving the ribcage and :shock: :lol: now just to remember to try it on the dancefloor, whilst dancing :D
  15. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    You had to ask didn’t you :cry: :roll: :wink:

    I train this regularly.
    Those replies have helped me a lot, but I’m still far from where I want to be. :oops: :oops: :oops:
    I am getting better though.

    The controlled shake with the shoulders is getting better.
    Now I just have to remember using it during the dance.
    (And keep improving it).

    The ribcage shake just won't be there. :cry:

    Never give up, never surrender! :twisted:
  16. rockingdj

    rockingdj New Member

    Danish Guy:

    Just "Shake it, shake it, shake, shake it, shake it, shake it like a Poloroid picture........." :D
  17. tacad

    tacad New Member

    I went to Peru when I was 19. Everybody danced and they did the shoulder shake thing. Needless to say I could not do it. Back home I continued to practice until I got it. It started 1 second or even half a second at a time. I would shake body and get the shoulders started but could not sustain it. Eventually I learned to stretch it out.
  18. Istel

    Istel New Member

    Hey everyone,

    Please! more input for this thread :D, cause I'm trying to work on my body movement. Shoulder Shakes / Shimmies as we call it here is no prob for me since I've been doing it since young after watching some dance movie (too young to remember what) on tv... I thought it's something like a dog shaking off water from it's body after a shower :lol: :p

    Always thought I was doing it the wrong way/cheating since most ppl around me struggle with it... :oops:

    The other body movements, however are a pain in the ahole for me...
    Like moving the shoulders, the chest and all those body movement stuff you see those advance dancers doing...

    Body waves are hard for me as well, I look odd doing them haha...
    Hence more input on what type of exercises to do or how we should move our body to get the body isolation/movement/styling to look smoother...

    Frankie Martinez always (do you pronounce it as Martiniiizz or Martineeeeezz?) seemed like he's gliding on the dance floor, whereas we mortal seems to be stumbling beside him :roll: ...

    Thank a lot in advance.
  19. Twilight_Elena

    Twilight_Elena Well-Known Member

    :p My teacher does that, intentionally sometimes! I remember once we were dancing samba, and she kept doing the marcha so that we bumped into a fellow teacher, firend of hers. Hilarious! She's a doll.
    I would give you advice on shoulders, but I'm not there yet. I'm a small fry, that one is copyrighted. I haven't even done the hips in salsa yet. When I do hips, my teacher goes "Don't do any hips. No hips at ALL". Hmm. Wonder if it's because I have horrible hip technique... :?

    Twilight Elena
  20. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    People who are new to salsa often try to actually swing their hips, which makes the motion look very unnatural. Maybe that's what your teacher is trying to say? The hip motion in salsa is not really generated from the hips at all; as I understand it, it comes from the bending/stretching of the knees. More info can be found in the Hips! Latin Motion/Hip Motion Index...

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