Salsa > Stuck between good and dancing?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Redheadedmermaid, Nov 1, 2003.

  1. Redheadedmermaid

    Redheadedmermaid New Member

    Hi All, just wanted some advice. I'm at a stage with my dancing (Salsa on 1) that I'm getting comments I'm a really good dancer, which is really very flattering. Maybe I'm being tough on myself, but I don't really feel like a good dancer - something isn't feeling right at the moment.

    I have the timing and I can follow even soft leads (sometimes I preempt but I'm aware I do it and apologize when I do that :oops: ), I've got the posture/attitude thing happening and some moves for when I'm dancing solo. I'm really into technique and practice basic steps and spins on my own to different speeds of music. If I'm not at a class or club on a certain day I try to do an hours practice by myself.

    This said, I find I'm feeling off balance at times during my dancing (not just in spins, but during some other moves too). I'm trying to learn the 'proper' way to spin and now I can just do a single spin but often go off balance in a double. I used to be able to do triple spins and sometimes four, but now I'm lucky to get through one and a half.

    I don't have a regular practice partner (not through lack of trying, guys just don't want to practice) and rely on club dancing or a little bit of partner practice after class to improve.

    I'm finding this is zapping my confidence and I am now becoming reluctant to dance in clubs because I don't feel I will be able to execute the moves the guys want me to do because I will go off balance and get anxious.

    The other problem, which I imagine is fairly common is that I dance really well with guys who aren't quite at, or are at my level, but when I dance with someone who I know is far better than me (like an instructor for instance) I get so nervous that it becomes a very unpleasant experience (most likely for him too) - part of this is their fault I must say as they start leading me into complex arm and turn patterns that are probably above my level - I can follow them, just not well and that's when the anxiety starts. How do I get better if I can't dance with someone better than I am?

    I can't really pin point when the loss of balance and therefore confidence happened and I haven't let it stop me all together and I certainly won't. I'm kind of hoping its just a "stage" and eventually with solo practice and determination its all going to fall into place somehow.

    I've been taking classes since June this year and have moved pretty quick to an advanced level - I got a couple of private lessons which helped tremendously. I do two lessons a week (one advanced, one Int/Adv) and go to clubs about twice a week. I know I'm nowhere near what I'm capable of.

    Any comments, advice?
  2. brujo

    brujo New Member

    The way I'm learning to spin is to slow down the movements to target problem areas in your body. Leading from your center, do a quarter turn, and see if your body is off balance. From there, do another, and another and another until you have a full turn. Pay attention to see if you're stumbling in any of these quarters, see if your body is leaning to one side, which will usually make you lose balance. Once you're sure that your quarter turns are flawless, go to a half turn, .75 turn, etc. If you have a video camera, tape yourself, this will allow you to see little error areas that you might not be aware of and try to correct them. Spinning just takes a ton of practice.

    Also, check your shoes. Are the shoes you wear to lessons the same ones you take to the clubs? Are there problems with your soles that don't allow you to spin properly? Are your feet aligned differently?

    Take a private lesson with the instructor and ask to social dance. First, by not being in a club setting, you find that a lot of the stress from looking bad in front of others is gone. He might also be able to pinpoint certain tendencies that you have that he might not point out in clubs out of politeness. You will probably find that after the first 5 minutes, all the nerveousness will go away and you will be able to take full advantage of the rest of the time.

    Don't kick yourself if you don't get a perfect dance right away. The first dance is always really tricky as you're adjusting to each other and you don't really know the other person's level. Don't take your mistakes too seriously, otherwise you just build them up bigger and bigger in your mind. If you're comfortable with the person, ask if they can lead it again, usually the second time it works as a charm.

    I don't believe in elite vs non-elite dancers. Some people just had more practice than others and know more moves. You will actually be surprised at how much you can learn from dancing with a guy at your level or even lower. By dancing with people that are not quite there yet, you are forced to adapt to their leads, which will make you a better follower, making you able to dance with anyone in the future. If the moves he does seem to simple for you, spice it up! Work on the smoothness of your movements, play with the music in your footwork, play with attitude and eye contact, add styling elements to even the basic turn. Dance with as many people as you can. Some of them will become really good dancers, sooner than you think. And don't get frustrated, just get out there and dance!
  3. redhead

    redhead New Member

    Sounds like my own thoughts a few months ago. RELAX and enjoy dancing.
    Every lead is different, so in clubs you often can't use what your instructor told you. I give it at least 3 dances to adjust to a new leader and try to dance with as many guys as I can.
    You don't make mistakes, you create new moves. If you miss the lead, it's just as much your leader's fault as yours. Are there any flawless followers? I never heard of one.
    I HATE :shock: dancing with top leads but do it as much as I can. If I miss some move, chances are I'll recognize it the next time. Remember that even the best dancer was a beginner one day, so he'll forgive you all your missteps as long as you TRY. He wouldn't ask you to dance if he didn't like what you're doing!
    Good luck :)
  4. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    There was a time not to long ago when I would choke anytime I danced with a follower more advanced than me. I'd be trying so hard to impress that I messed everything up. I was thinking instead of dancing.

    Several months later and the problem is gone. My confidence in my abilities has increased ten fold and with that my ability to dance well under pressure! Now I'm on a mission to get as many 'trophy dances' (as my friends call them) as possible. :D
  5. redhead

    redhead New Member

    "Thinking instead of dancing" - well said!
  6. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    I'm thinking that the "thinking instead of dancing" has it nailed down... especially if you say that you used to be able to execute spins that you are now finding problematic. As overly simplistic as it may sound, don't try, just dance! :D
  7. Redheadedmermaid

    Redheadedmermaid New Member

    Did I tell you guys (and gals) lately that you're the best???!!! :lol:

    Thanks for your advice - I tend to analyse most things and I know I do dance best when I'm just dancing and not thinking about whose watching and what the guy is thinking and am I gonna be able to do the next move... yeah.

    I will try your tips re the spins though brujo, and I'll check my shoes - god I hope its not the shoes I've spent a fortune on them!!!!

    I was thinking about it at work today (as Salsa is now the main preoccupation of my life) and I guess if I do dance with guys at my level or lower then we simply get better together, right? which I think is what you are saying.

    OK, I'm off to practice now. Thanks again all.
  8. bouncybouncyweee

    bouncybouncyweee New Member

    Well, all I can say is thanks to the repliers and that I'm really glad I read all that. I have the same insecurities and irritations with myself, but I really think that if I just relax and let myself be comfortable, I'll be fine. It's such a strange thing, doing so well with people who are "more beginner" than I, and then crashing and burning when I get with someone better. Go figure. :roll:
  9. Salsero_AT

    Salsero_AT New Member

    I totally agree with the dancing and thinking thing. Often when you do workshops you tend to think way too much when something does not work out. And the harder you and your dance partner think about the move the worse it gets. My solution is to quit working on this particular move for some time and let it be for the time being and often when i try it some time later it simply works suddenly. :shock: 8)
  10. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Great point AT... I can't count the number of times I couldn't get something so just gave up on it... and then came back to it at some later point and was like "that is what I was having trouble with?" :shock:

    It doesn't always pay to try working your way through something that isn't working... let it go for a while and move on to something else. It's not like the problematic element is going to disappear into he dance ether if you don't master it right there and then, right? :wink:
  11. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Wow! I'm glad I could help :D This problem hit close to home for me because I serioulsy went through a stage where it happened EVERY single time I would dance with advanced followers. When I danced with women at or below my level I would be relaxed because I wasn't trying to impress, I was just dancing and having fun. Once I started having that mindset every time I was on the floor no matter who it was I conquered it!
  12. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Love the positive energy coming from you guys! What a great bunch of fellow dance fans!
    This is to you, RedheadedMermaid. Plz give yourself a little break & let your true soul come out to play...... be ONE with the music, let it seduce you, and your dancing will fall into place. The guys you dance with will notice this too (unless they are too busy thinking :lol: )!
    Practice & techniques will make you a good dancer, but 'living' (and loving)the heart & soul of Salsa (as a lifestyle) will make you shine. Regardless what level. Even if you only stick to the basic moves all night long you will shine!
    What do you all think......? :wink:
  13. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    That I'd rather be dancing poorly then not dancing at all :!:
  14. redhead

    redhead New Member

    Mermaid: as much as we may hate it, we, unexperienced followers, have to dance with better leaders in order to improve. This way we learn new moves, but it's not as important as learning to follow. Beginners' lead is an order; advanced lead is just a suggestion. All you need to feel it is a couple dances like that a night; take at it as a necessary evil. Very soon you'll start actually enjoying it! And again - if people didn't like dancing with you, next time they wouldn't ask you to dance with them! :D
  15. Redheadedmermaid

    Redheadedmermaid New Member

    Hi all, I'm glad I asked the question. I knew this must be common and that you guys could help.

    Well I had class last night and I just danced-only felt mildly nervous. The off balance thing in spins didn't go, but certainly I feel more relaxed. And I really concentrated on following the lead and maintaining eye contact and I had so much fun!!!!

    The big test is tomorrow night when I go out after class, eh?

    I spoke to a teacher about the spins thing - see I've recently changed how I do this - do you guys know Seon Stylist & Amanda? They recently came to Australia and I did one of there workshops on spins, this is the way I'm trying to learn it. Anyway, to cut a long story short is (correct) practice (and its not the shoes. yay!!!)
  16. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Yeah I know who Seaon and Amanda are, I spend a lot of time out dancing in LA.
  17. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    I also know who Seaon is. He did some workshops here several years back...
  18. Redheadedmermaid

    Redheadedmermaid New Member

    Update: had a fabulous time dancing on the weekend, and yes I danced. I still was a little off balance in my spins but the rest of my dancing felt good.

    Went to a Latin street party and found that Sangria is a part of the key to a good double spin - I will do this for my dancing :p

    Thanks guys, its good to have a reminder everynow and then to stop taking it all so seriously and have fun.

    Salsachinita - January????? 8) :lol:
  19. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Our pleasure RHM! :D

    Sangria you say? :wink:
  20. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Yep, RedHairMermaid. I will be there in Jan!
    I am glad you've discovered Sangria :D There will be plenty of it this weekend down here, for the annual Hispanic Fiesta...! If anyone happens to be visiting this way I will be dancing in the street :wink:

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