Salsa > To Style or Not To Style

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

  1. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    I was watching quite a few Salsa performances today and noticed that depending on the couple of course, there is styling that fits the salsa routine and styling that doesn't fit at all. Of course there are alot factors that determine the styling for leaders and followers such as music, theme of the routine, chemistry, various moves, etc. My question is particularly for the leaders, and since most of the styling falls on the followers, when does it (or does it) become a distraction for you? How much is too much? How little is too little?

    My favorite couple to watch for Salsa styling is Liz Lira and Alex Da Silva. Very elegant styling and don't over power each other. Who are your favorites for styling?
  2. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    I'm not Alex's biggest fan, but I love Liz's styling. I also enjoy watching Stracy Diaz, Joby Vazquez, and Sarai Farrant. I'm all about smooth and elegant...that's my style!
  3. brujo

    brujo New Member

    Depends on the person. Like everything else. I think the key here is not to overdo it. Styling should come naturally to you as part of your muscle memory, and not as an active thought of 'hey, I am going to raise my arm now!'.

    I can usually tell who has taken a styling class over the weekend by their hand that goes up a little too late, which interrupts the flow of the dancing. I personally love the 'unique' styling moves, like a little snowflake motion during a hand drop or an unexpected body wave somewhere else. Style as much as you want, as long as it doesn't interfere with the connection and lead-follow dynamics and you're not aware of it...
  4. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    I could not agree with this more! But I would also add: "and as long as it doesn't come at the expense of attention to your partner!"

    Also, and much in line with brujo's comments, it needs to be genuine. Now obviously it can take a little while to develop one's own style and flair... but doing the exact same hand in the air, in exactly the same way, in exactly the same place is *not* appealing – it screams sterility rather then organic dancing!
  5. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Leaders for the most part are worried about their next move, where they are going to 'throw' the girl to next, however, forget that there are times where the girl must style, as I like to call it, flavor the music. A leader who doesn't understand the why, when, how, and what it takes for the ladies to pull-off a great style, will inevitably wreck her chance to style, hence lessen the chemestry of the dance.

    To me it isn't much about what move I am going to do next, but what the song calls for. If the song isn't calling for another move, then why do it at the expense of becoming one with the music?

    For the greater part leaders seem to complain about the ladies taking their sweet time to style, yet forget to see that she has as much of right to do her thing as leaders do of planning the next move. After all, it isn't a control thing where you do what I tell you to do, but rather a shared venture lasting around 3 minutes of which will be most enjoyed if the jail house some leaders create is handed a key to give the lady her time to style, as the music might call for.

    Keep in mind that it isn't a stage performance in the dance-floor of social dancing. You are there to enjoy it and "wing it", no pre-determined anything, it is a world of improv and if you are thinking about your next move, you aren't thinking about her, nor listening to the music, you've followed an egotistical idea and displayed it with a "what will I do next". Even if you are the leader, you are catering to her needs, always be aware of her, take care of her needs, let her style to a perfect mixture between what you do for the dance and what she does. Always knowing that too much of anything is too much, and that your world of dancing is defined by the song not what you want to do. If we dance outside the music there will be no styling, no perfect combo pattern that will make any dancer look as one with the music.

    Must acknowledge that if you aren't at the stage where moves just pop out when you dance, then indeed you have to think about "next", with that in mind, I'll direct this post to the more advance dancers...
  6. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Do guys do styling? :? (I swear I've seen it!)
    How much is too much? What do the girls think?
  7. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Most definitely guys have styling!
  8. redhead

    redhead New Member

    Don't you love watching some guys' footwork... :bouncy:
  9. Pukpik

    Pukpik New Member

    Styling, Footwork, Etc...

    Highlighting some of the other posts:

    * I absolutely agree with Brujo when he said,
    I know a girl who is on a Salsa team here in town. One night I watched her dance and her partner broke off their connection to start shinning. The guy looked great he felt genuinely into the music. The girl on the other hand merely did some sort of choreographed footwork routine from the team she was on. While the guy was dancing from his heart and focusing on feeling the music, she was more focused on remembering what she had learned from the team and didn't look the least bit genuine at all. This also goes along with what SDsalsaguy and Borikensalsero said when styling must be genuine and must come from the music (what the song calls for), as well as styling from the heart.

    * I also have to give props to SDsalsaguy once again for saying
    I can just feel his anger as he is pounding away at the keyboard!!! "Sterility" is an excellent way to describe it. People who learn from the same Salsa instructor imitate his/her own style/bodily philosophy of dancing and reproduce it on the dance floor. It may look good or a bit flashy, but it is a million times more gratifying to have someone genuinely produce a style of their own.

    * Props to Brujo for saying,
    A very good male dancer knew me very well and asked me to lead him. I did. It was the worst dance of my life. His styling phenomenally interfered with our connection. Prospects of at the very least doing a cross-body lead were out the window. He was good at leading. His muscle memory and his trainning geared him to only be a good lead and not to follow. Leaders who are male are accustomed to supplying the energy, strength, and styling of the dance to create their own atmosphere to the follower during the dance. With role reversal, his muscle memory didn't allow him to relinquish control and let me direct the dance.

    * Borikensalsero said,
    For instructors, it may be a performance for an audience because they want to rake in potential students. For people with big egos, it's their time to shine (pardon the pun). For the audience, especially worse for beginners being spectators, they see it as an impressive looking show. This becomes a very bad foundation because beginners will then go to classes, learn some footwork from an instructor with his/her own bodily philosophy, and imitate it on the dance floor thinking they look good. Once again, not genuine, not from the heart, probably not with what the music calls for, and hence not looking good.

    And my own little schpeil to add to this tangent of footwork-

    Seeing guys do footwork from the heart and with the music is something to marvel. It sort of renews all of the reasons why we dance Salsa to begin with. However, it is not kosher seeing a guy breakout into fancy/schmansy footwork that is above and beyond their partner's abilities. It looks incredibly bad between the two to have such disparities(regardless how good he is) and it is deeply inconsiderate to said follower because the guy is upstaging her.

    Secondly, it's fun to execute footwork in reaction/interaction to your partner. Then, you are interacting on a stylistic level- matching each other, battling each other, etc. Plus, both people are still connected on a non-physical level. Executing footwork for the sole purpose of looking good to a crowd of on-lookers deviates from the leader's commitment to his partner because then the invisible connection is lost and it doesn't feel good to the follower.

    [Apologies to the long post. I have dial up. I don't post often; when I do, I post LONG.]
  10. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Re: Styling, Footwork, Etc...

    No apologies needed Pukpik. Great always! :D
  11. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    I will second to that!
    It's always a pleasure to read one of your posts! :bouncy:
  12. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    Re: Styling, Footwork, Etc...

    I think that leading and following are quite different skill sets, that don't necessarily swap easily. I know that I have to be in quite a different frame of mind when leading than when following.

    If the guy is upstaging her - if he is dancing for her the dynamic is quite different even if he is pulling out all his flashest moves. Actually I think that the most wonderful thing to watch is someone dancing for themselves and by themselves - not with a partner, not for an audience, but just grooving along and enjoying their body and the music.


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