Salsa > Weight Shift during Basic

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by danceguy, Apr 12, 2004.

  1. danceguy

    danceguy New Member

    While I was out dancing the other night I had a moment of clarity when I realized that I may be doing my basic wrong. I was watching one of my teachers working with a beginner and explaining that weight shift happens on the four and eight counts during the pause (this is on1).

    This is the way I have been taught, but as I started to think about what she had said...I realized something as I was practicing...I tend to shift my weight on the 3 and 7 count! I don't know if this is good or bad (I'm thinking its bad) and I do know that my Latin motion is pretty lousy. After 5 months of dancing in the clubs I'd would think that I'd pay more attention to details like this.

    So, if the Salsa folks can give me any pointers, I'll write out as best I can how I do my forward basic, broken down into 8 counts.

    1. Step forward with left foot on the toe, pushing back
    2. Tap with right foot
    3. Step back with left foot, shift weight usually on count 3 or between 3 and 4.
    4. I'm not sure what I'm doing here! :oops: :roll: :shock:
    5. Step back with right foot on the toe, pushing forward
    6. Tap with left foot
    7. Step forward with right foot, shift weight usually on count 7 or between 7 and 8.
    8. Again, like count 4, sometimes I'm just here waiting for the next move.

    I realize there are many ways to do things...but after watching other people move I've realized that I may be jumping the gun a bit and not looking right while doing my basic.

    Any pointers or advice would be appreciated...and meanwhile I'm scheduling a private lesson to get this Latin motion thing down once and for all! :p :shock: :?


  2. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member'd have to show me, SG :oops: !

    *The worst thing about 'written movements' is the fact that we can NEVER be sure how close the images conjured up in our minds as we are reading, to the real thing :roll: ........*
  3. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    My clueless diagnosis

    Assuming what I think you're doing, I'm guessing your problem is figuring out weight changes?

    Correct me if I'm wrong of course.

    How I've learned things, is that each step is in itself a weight change from foot to foot. Regarding hip motion, you can either continuously shift hips on the hold step (3, 7) or slowly shift it to the rest step (4, 8_) as if you're doing rumba [I know, the proper term is "settling the hip"]. As it would in rumba, it would thereby appear that you are shifting body weight when you are not. Considering the speed of most salsa though, I don't think you'd want to be doing hip motion so dramatically as if you were doing rumba.
  4. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    On the taps that you do on 2 and 6 I have a weight change, SG. Not sure if you do....

    Also, on the slows of 3-4 and 7-8 I try to ensure that there is continuity of motion. I've observed in beginners the steps are 1,2,3 and pause, 4,5,6 and pause. This breaks up the basic and makes it look choppy. On the other hand, if a person tries to ensure he/she settles on the 4 and 8, rather then emphasizing the 3 and 7, some of these problems are overcome.
  5. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    As Salsachinita says, it's very difficult to visualise what you're doing from your description, but here is how I do the forward basic (leader's timing on1) for comparison:

    1. Step forward with left foot on the toe. Weight is on the left foot, pushing back towards start position.
    2. Step in place with right foot. Weight shift to right foot (I wouldn't call this step "tap" as that to me suggests you're not putting your weight on right foot). This weight shift causes the hip to move to the rightmost position of the range of your hip motion.
    3. Step back with left foot. Weight on left foot. Hip moves back to centre.
    4. Weight remaining on left foot. Hip continues to move to the leftmost position as you prepare for the next step.
    5. Step back with right foot on the toe. Weight is on the right foot, pushing forward.
    6. Step in place with left foot. Weight shift to left foot. Hip sways to left.
    7. Step forward with right foot. Weight shift on right foot. Hip moves back to centre.
    8. Weight on right foot. Hip sways to right in preparation for the next step.

    So, over the 8 counts --
    Weight: left - right - left - (no change) - right - left - right - (no change)
    Hip motion: centre - to right - to centre - to left - to centre - to right - to centre - to left

    *1: I don't know if this is the correct way -- it's simply the way I do the basic.
    *2: Hip motion -- the movement/sway mentioned here occurs as a result of the knee of the weight-bearing leg straightening; you don't actually push your hip out to the side a la bump.
  6. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    Hey Scorp!

    Like Salsachinita, I'm never entirely sure what is going on in written descriptions, but I'll give it a shot.

    I'm guessing that what you're calling a "tap" is a step in place--I tend to think of a tap as just that, a tap with (usually the toe of) one foot, while the weight remains on the other. If you were doing that sort of tap on the second step, you wouldn't be able to step back into the third.

    So I'll use the same sort of language as etchuck, where each step entails a change of weight, the steps slowed down to a crawl for clarity:

    Preparation--Settle into R hip
    1. Step forward L onto bent leg, R leg straight
    &. Straighten L leg so that just for one instant both legs are straight
    2. Step in place R onto bent leg, L leg straight
    &. Straighten R leg so that just for one instant both legs are straight
    3. Step back L onto bent leg, R leg straight
    4. Straighten L leg so that just for one instant both legs are straight
    5. Step in back R onto bent leg, L leg straight
    &. Straighten R leg so that just for one instant both legs are straight
    6. Step in place L onto bent leg, R leg straight
    &. Straighten L leg so that just for one instant both legs are straight
    7. Step forward R onto bent leg, L leg straight
    8. Straighten R leg so that just for one instant both legs are straight

    1. Step forward L onto bent leg


    Latin motion, as has been mentioned in other forums, is not a matter just of swinging the hips, but essentially of bending and straightening the legs. If you bend your knees one after the other, your hips are gonna move, unless your Elastic Man. Keep your weight forward, press into the floor, think on pushing your knees out in front of you.

    The hesitation steps you mention are no different from the quick steps, except that your weight shifts more gradually. In fact, in most salsa, the music goes by so quickly you don't have time to think of the weight transfers that go on as separate from the steps. So you think of step onto bent leg and straighten as all happening at the same time on a single beat. Actually, they happen over about the space of an eighth, maybe a sixteenth note. Again, as some people have suggested, the relative speed of the music means that you often don't have the time to play with the full range of Latin motion. If the music is really going fast, I don't think I ever quite have a straight leg.

    In the hesitation step, the weight shift happens over the full quarter note, a whole beat of music. So you actually have time to give play to the full range of motion. The 4 and 8 beats are not so much of a weight shift as they are the completion of the weight transfer you've begun. I've written them as beats on which you straighten the leg you're standing on, but I could just as easily have said that they are beats where you settle your hip and sit on your butt cheek.

    My guess, from your description, is that on the hesitation steps--you may be stepping onto a leg that's already straight and falling immediately into your hip, which gives you nowhere to go, thus leading you to anticipate the next step. Concentrate on always stepping onto the bent leg, and then straightening and completely settling the hip before your next step, and on keeping your weight forward the whole time.

    Probably the best dance to practice the Latin motion would be rumba, as in the relatively leisurely pace of that dance you can move fully. The hesitation steps in salsa, as far as I know, are more or less the same as the forward and backward steps in rumba (and those are IMO the hardest steps to get--especially the back step).

    If you concentrate on the leg work and the footwork (ball-flat), you'll find that you'll start to develop the motion and your timing will improve. It's worth noting, at the same time, that the motion is only vested in the legs, your abs and back are working as well--so if you picture your center as a little ball of energy which on the hesitation steps you're forcing from your center all the way through the ball of your foot into the floor, you'll get the sense of the continued motion--which is through your own body, and not in a forward or backward momentum.

    And now that I've thoroughly confused you and probably botched the whole description (although I've been jumping up and dancing and then sitting back down to write this), I shall say, "A warm Starbucky morning to you, Scorp!"


  7. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

  8. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    :lol: :lol: I was doing the exact same thing in my office as I wrote mine (behind a screen -- so hopefully nobody noticed)!
  9. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    :lol: Lucky for me, I'm still home! I can't do that in the office at work--it's a private office, but there are too many papers on the floor to let me dance! :lol:
  10. danceguy

    danceguy New Member

    Hiya Folks,

    Thank you for the tips was interesting reading your replies.

    Salsachinita - It is hard to desribe the steps this you're going to have to come visit now! We can hit all the SF Bay Area clubs and that way, at least I know that one lady will dance with me! :oops: :D

    As far as the "tap" I mentioned, yes it is a step but I probably wrote that as I start it on the toe and avoid putting the whole foot down until right before I move again.

    MacMoto - It sounds like we do our basic pretty much the same. I think my movements are ok, they just need to be refined to look and feel better. Last night I was working with shifting the weight right on the 4 and 8 counts...but it seemed a bit jerky and on faster songs I'd be a bit behind. I realize that I started shifting weight early to avoid this, and what I do is kind of "glide" during the 3-4 and 7-8 it becomes smoother and less rigid.

    I think a lot of my concern about this is due to the Ballroom venue I attended last week where they were teaching "Salsa." These folks had Latin motion...but most of them had nearly straight legs and very little bend to their knees...and it looked very unappealing to me. :x

    There is a style of Latin motion that I've seen in the places I go dancing that I really I'm going to schedule some privates with my teachers to get this down. So, hopefully I will learn whether or not I'm really doing things "wrong" of have just developed my own style that could use a little fine tuning to improve. ;)


  11. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    To me it's more of a brush step, but I think that's what you meant.

    The thing is that when I do fifth-position backwards breaks, that brush step you can do stylistically (like a kick-step) and it will look cool. Provided you don't really kick anyone.
  12. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    That delay in the fully committed second step may be part of what you're having trouble with. Toe-ball-flat is pretty instantaneous. If you don't put your heel down, you may fall into your back step with a straight leg.

    I'm not sure what was up with the ballroom venue--the dancers where I take ballroom are all quite good--I'm not sure how real Latin motion is even possible without the bent leg. The only time I step onto a straight leg is when I step into a check--in some instances doing a XBL from a double hand hold. :?
  13. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    My version...

    1. Step forward on left, onto a bent leg, using inside edge of front of foot, pushing back.

    2. Replace full weight over right, onto a bent leg, pushing through inside edge of foot (with a very quick toe-ball-heel transition).

    3 & 4. Replace weight over left, onto a bent leg, pushing through inside edge of foot *and* drawing out the push through the floor and full weight transition across both the 3 and the 4!

    5. Step back on right, onto a bent leg, using inside edge of front of foot, pushing forward.

    6. Replace full weight over left, onto a bent leg, pushing through inside edge of foot (with a very quick toe-ball-heel transition).

    7 & 8. Replace full weight over right, onto a bent leg, pushing through inside edge of foot *and* drawing out the push through the floor and full weight transition across both the 7 and the 8!

    To my way of thinking, if you've broken down the 3/4 and 7/8 into different actions than, no matter what your feet may be doing, your body is not dancing a QQS rhythm. Dancing a slow should be different from dancing a quick and than holding.


  14. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    That's very clear, SDSG! 8)
  15. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    I don't remember what thread it was in, but I remember posting somewhere that, in my mind, I had to make the transition from thinking QQS to thinking QQ"ooze" to get the feel and effect that I wanted to... I want to dance through the music, not on top of it... if that makes sense.
  16. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    A lot of sense. :)
  17. danceguy

    danceguy New Member


    Thank you for is hard to type out how we dance but what you wrote made a lot of sense. Actually...what you shared is very close to how do my basic. When I hit the three count, I do start the weight change...but I "glide" "ooze" "flow" into the four count so there is a smooth, continuous motion. I do know that one side of my body is much more flexible than the other, so my first half of the basic feels great...but the second half (the right side) is still kind of stiff and needs some improvement. Sometimes I don't "ooze" so well on the right side and its an area I work with in my daily stretches to improve upon.

    I think I was being too hard on basics are coming along well...but I know a few privates would be help me to get closer towards that beautiful motion that I've seen many dancers with.

    Just one of many things to improve upon...:p ;)


  18. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    May be you should try the basic to a really slow song, so slow that it turns into a cha cha... :D

    when you hit the 4 you have already stepped on it with your left on the ball of your feet, and the weight shift comes on the "AND" of the four count, which means you drop the weight onto the left, and your right foot is ready to hit the 5. so you are actually stepping on the first part of the 4 and weight shifting on second part of the 4 (the AND), which means you are steping and weight shifting on the TUM TUM of the conga. So you don't look like you have stopped dancing even if you are told that there is a stop in the dancing on the 4 and 8. For, you use those numbers to get your butt swinging :shock: , caused by the bent knee action and weight shift. :p

    When the music is going fast you can't really do it that detailed, but getting used to, will give you and added swing to you latin motion.

    In class my instructor has us do it without music first. We get on the ball of the left foot by bending the left knee, weight on right, right foot is flat on the ground. We then start bending the right knee in way to bringing the flat right foot to the ball/toe area and at the same time transfering weight to the left side, and flattening the left foot out as the right is on its way to the toe position. The hip falls on the direction of the bent leg

    She then puts a slow salsa and we practice it. We do it enough times that even if the music goes fast we are so used to weight shifting on the TUM TUM that the swing never stops. Hence, making that huge difference between an on2 dancing 1,2,3 and an on2 danicng 2,3,4... The power 2 dancer naturaly gets more swing to the body because of the constant ground connection, where as the NY City Style dancer is "hip-locked" on the 4 going on way to the 5 an so on...
  19. tacad

    tacad New Member


    I have three questions:

    1. How much are you moving your body forward and backward. It's possible to do the basic without moving your upper body almost at all. Or does your upper body have a very definite move forward on the 1 so that the body weight comes closer to being over the left foot, though I don't think it's really possible to be completely over the left foot because of the speed of the music. Does your body move backwards on the 5 count? Does it move a shorter distance than it did going forward? Presumably you don't move backwards much since we don't want to step on people. :wink:

    2. When stepping backward on 5 do you put you heel down, first toe then heel? Or does it not come down at all?

    In boriken's post above I'm confused by this paragraph when he said step on 4, shift weight on "and" of 4. Did he mean step on three, shift weight on "and" of 4?
  20. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    When I dance I actually tap on 4 and 8, so what boriken would not hold then. If I don't do the taps I would definitely reach back with my toes, with the balls of my foot touching the ground first for the 5. If I do the tap I believe that there is a tendancy for me to let the heels of my right foot touch the ground first on the 5. Since the slow is on 3-4 and 7-8, normally, I believe that on the "and" my right foot is already moving to land on the count of 5, so my weight would already be on my left foot by 4. If boriken is referring to the "and" after the 4, I think is too late.

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