Salsa > why is salsa so hard for me??

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by esther87, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. barrefly

    barrefly New Member

    casasalsa, (You haven't been rude).
    I must say, your explanation of the basic chacha rhythm is a bit heady for me. Both my kids are associated with a (non-ballroom) latin studio that I suspect is the same type that the original poster is affiliated with. They have been around since the mid 90's. They happen to also teach salsa. I think I know where this young lady is coming from and like many of the posters advised,....just get in there and start learning. It will come.
    I bet the next time we hear from her, assuming that she has started taking classes and works hard at it, she will tell us that salsa is easier then she thought. LOL

    When my daughter was studying afro-cuban dance with Alien Ramirez (...for a couple of years,....and the first day almost killed her. LOL) she was taught the moves and danced them to the music that Alien would play. Even though some of the moves were very difficult, with it's complex syncopated rythyms and difficult movements/isolations, her dance training (tech.), her abiltiy to count and to remember the moves allowed her to pick it up very rapidly. (refer to Josh's thread #59).

    Then one class, Alien decided to give an a-c music theory class. She even brought a professional latin percussionist to demonstrate the instruments. It was a fascinating class and everyone loved it. She explained the clave rythyms and some of the other instrumental rythyms. (I am sure the cascara pattern was demonstrated) Missy, being like the majority of the dancers in the class, was overwhelmed with all the information. She was quite content with just..."dancing to the music".
    I don't think the class made anyone a better a-c dancer, just a little wiser, musically.

    casasalsa, you should have been a latin percussionist. From a musicians standpoint, you seem to love the latin rythyms.
  2. casasalsa

    casasalsa New Member

    barrefly, I HOPE she responds with great news, but if not....can we agree that she needs to be able to find out where to start, to even begin dancing...and that falls back into timing, ......and if she wants to take it to another level, learn to groove to everything else but learning about it?

    you you answered why your daughter and probably most others didnt benefit from the class....((BTW, i dont believe in teaching music theory to a dancer, im assuming he adapted it to make sense to a dancer) ....BECAUSE SHE CONTENT WITH JUST DANCING TO MUSIC, like most people do......people become AMAZING dancers by doing what you daughter did, but one day, if she is an active dancer, shes gonna want more, and what im explaining is the way to get it.... i promise

    i just has a 10year VET in the performing circuit have this same issue, and after intensive rhythm training, she is a completely different dancer today...and its because of it

    BTW, i AM a percussionist as well =)
  3. teotjunk

    teotjunk Member

    When you mean a good ballroom/latin teacher, do you mean one to one training ?


  4. barrefly

    barrefly New Member

    Though they are a bit pricey, private B/L lessons are definitely the way to go. Our studio offers private packages and throws in group lessons along with the package. A package of 33 privates and about 10 group lessons costs us $2400.
    Her instructors are from russia and are blackpool pro. latin raising star champs.
    Melissa loves her instructors.

    casasalsa, now it makes sense. (you're a latin percussionist). By the way, Alien is a "she", and is probably one of the most talented salsa/latin dancers in the world. She "was" Alex Da Silva's professional partner. (please, let's not talk about Alex).

    Alien is very much aware of what is going on with the instruments rythmically speaking. She was born and raised in cuba and along with lots of formal training, music and dance permeated her life as a part of her culture. Missy will never be an "Alien". As far as the culturally authentic salsa/latin dance goes, Alien is the real thing.

    I hope you don't think I was putting down your approach to salsa/latin dance training. I just think that your type of approach may be for the advanced/pro. dancer
    that wants to understand more about their dance and it's music. Not everyone, including professional dancers want to take their dancing that far. (To an academic level). Alien did not get her knowledge because it was taught to her (academically).
    She got her knowledge from growing up in Cuba where music and dance were such a big part of her daily life.

    ....a little story.

    Missy was asked to assist a pro. group as a demonstrator. Many of the top L.A. pros were in the group. (she was too young to perform, but the gig went south anyway).
    After one of the rehearsals, Missy, I and Alien were alone in the studio. The subject of "Different types of salsa dance" was brought up. Alien gave Missy a free master class on the subject. She explained and demonstrated the on2 salsa dances and differences, cuban salsa, puerto rican and cali/colombian salsa. Missy was in awe that Alien knew so much about salsa. Missy asked her how she learned so much, and Alien's reply was something to the effect, "...sometimes I will take classes, I learned it by dancing with people who dance it, and I am always around other professional dancers".

    Years later, and rather recently, a new dancer (to salsa) asked Missy about the different types of salsa. Missy gave her version of a master class. LOL It was no where near Alien's level of expertise, but she showed the girl the difference between on1 and on2, cuban and cali and did a halfway decent job. My point is.....becoming an expert sometimes comes from being emersed/exposed in something for a very long time.

    Missy will never ever be the "real thing" from a culturally authentic salsa/latin perspective . The authentic latin culture (whatever that may be) just isn't that big a part of her life.
    Taking classes like casasalsa offers won't make her the "the real thing" either.
    It would just put a "suit on my little monkey" but she will always be a "monkey".

    Now, from an american salsa dancer perspective that has studied and experienced salsa like the majority of american salsa dancers have.....she is the "real thing" and is content with that.
    Liz Lira is my ideal for the quintessential american salsa dancer....with her training in A.T., B/L, Ballet, Jazz, Theatre arts and even some gymnastics training.

    casasalsa, Melissa has been emersed in the "american" dance culture all her life and is on her way to becoming an expert. (like Alien, in the Latin dance culture). Therefore, I simply differ on your advise to the OP. I don't condemn it.

    P.S. Yes, we can agree, timing is a requirement for any structured dance.
  5. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member


    Your info seems a little contradictory regarding your daughter's teacher - first you say the teacher got her knowledge of latin music and dance styles from growing up in Cuba, but then you quote her saying that she learned it through taking classes and working with other pros.

    Seems to me if the teacher herself says she takes classes to understand the topic, then it's a pretty good idea for the rest of us, no?

    Granted, it depends on your goals. I have some friends who are perfectly content to do beginner-level salsa and just want a simple, casual night of social dancing. Although those folks would surely benefit from learning more about latin rhythms and culture, they might not care or be motivated to use the information.

    But anyone who is trying to become really good at salsa, let alone becoming pro or semi-pro - then I think yes, it's well worthwhile to learn more. Being born into the place and the culture is an edge but if you don't come by that knowledge naturally, it can be learned.
  6. barrefly

    barrefly New Member


    I was refering to how Alien learned so many different salsa styles. The quick answer is, is that she was exposed to them through a life of dancing and her career as a dancer. Just get out there and start dancing. There is nothing wrong with taking a "clave" class. I wanted casasalsa to understand this. However,....
    The OP's problem (and what she was looking for advise with), IMO isn't that she had a timing issue that could be resolved with a "clave" was that she just needed to get into a good salsa class with a good instructor and stick with it. My argument with casasalsa is that "clave" class would not be the best class for her at this stage in her salsa training.

    Also, to clarify something about the "musicality" bandwagon in salsa. I wanted to
    explain something about the difference of dancers in respect to their skill and passion with "musicality". One doesn't have to understand music to dance to it, but on the other hand, understanding music is a noble thing. Other than Alien, I now a great many "musicality" instructors that really don't have anything special to there dancing. Alien is an exception, but it may not be because of her knowledge of latin
    music with respect to the instruments and it's rythym.

    Alien's passion and understanding of latin rythyms and the latin instruments and their place in latin music was greatly influenced by the environment in which she was raised. Alien is a uniquely gifted dancer. Hopefully, Melissa can one day be a uniquely gifted dancer as well, without becoming another Alien. (She's more of a Liz Lira...LOL). There are many ways to go with dance training, and in regards to the OP, I just thought that casasalsa's advise would put the "horse before the cart" so to speak.

    I am the biggest proponent of taking classes, esp. private instruction. (I spend about a grand a month on her training.) I also have my daughter learning as much of the dances as possible, for the purpose of molding her into a diverse dancer. Since there are so many dance forms as well as specifics to such dance forms (i.e. styling, shines, musicality,) I try to choose the classes/training that will best benefit her. I just think that casasalsa's advise would not be the best choice for the OP. I think the simple approach with "just get in there and dance" with the typical salsa class, that counts everthing out, teaches a lot of moves and patterns (maybe a few tricks and an occasional shine) and has the class practicing/social dancing what they have learned, during the breaks and for the last 5 minutes at the end of class. This, from my experience would be most expediant for her. Missy has taken the kind of classes such that casasalsa offers. Not wanting to sound harsh, it's sort of a waste of time for "her". (too much explaining and not enough dancing.) Even though it is I that has created her dance program, when selecting the classes and instructors, she prefers to take the classes with the instructors that she enjoy. She has refused some of the classes/training that I have tried to get her to take. (i.e. I wanted her to learn some of the non ballroom latin classes such as cumbia, merengue, bachata, non b/l chacha...but she refused.)

    I agree. I shared my story in order for those who have been following our discussion, to understand just what you are saying. Anything can be learned. The question is.... must it be learned?
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Not by any means ( an edge ) most latinos in the social scene havent got a clue about their own music !.. their " drive " ,if you will, is to just dance..( and this is empirical evidence )
  8. Beto

    Beto Active Member

  9. casasalsa

    casasalsa New Member

    barrefly- "I hope you don't think I was putting down your approach to salsa/latin dance training. I just think that your type of approach may be for the advanced/pro. dancer
    that wants to understand more about their dance and it's music. Not everyone, including professional dancers want to take their dancing that far. (To an academic level)."

    I can always respect the opinion of someone that is taking me to a place that they have let me ask you......Have you ever taken the time to learn what im speaking of? my asumption is not

    nobody said to take a clave class, i said to learn to understand salsa, and the backbone of it is clave, but before she would ever get to learn about how to find clave, she would be dancing with no problem (you teach somebody how to find the "one" first)

    >>>>>"One doesn't have to understand music to dance to it, but on the other hand, understanding music is a noble thing. Other than Alien, I now a great many "musicality" instructors that really don't have anything special to there dancing."<<<<<

    since when was dancing salsa a popularity contest? Isnt it a form of SELF expression? Those "musicality" teachers (BTW, i dont like how your categorizing us, because we are dance teachers, ...we just realize the importance and payoff of impeccable timing) probably anjoy dancing on a level you will never understand unless you experience cant take somebody to a place you have not been.

    that class that missy took was a "waste of time" because she wasnt willing to use it...just like you said......why are you bringing it up again

    and no, it doesnt have to be learned, but for those that hit that ceiling in dance.....because your dance is "square".....same feel, same thing, every time, depending on how many patterns you know.....dont wonder why, ...its in the timing, and it goes WWAAAYYYYYY beyond the numbers

    all im saying is that if someone HAS A HARD TIME DANCING bet is that if you said "hey, count to this" they would be lost....and not enough teachers can carry a conversation, ......let alone teach, .....about timing, and it honestly is sad in my opinion. ive conversated with TONS of instructors, and only a handfull can even speak of timing beyond the phrase, and i feel strong that this is why most people dance for a little while, and stop.....because i have never met a human that understood salsa at this level im speaking of and not have soooooooooooooo much appreciation for the music, that they couldnt help but to want to listen to , learn and dance more salsa......
  10. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    I wasn't trying to say that being latino automatically makes anyone knowledgeable about the music. I was responding specifically to barrefly's point regarding his daughter's dance teacher. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
  11. wonderwoman

    wonderwoman Well-Known Member

    I can stay on beat but have balance issues. My turns are too slow, spins have me flying out in to the nowhere. I can't follow most leads. I don't know what my deal is.
    When I go out this weekend I'm going to probably sit at the bar. lol
  12. barrefly

    barrefly New Member

    wonderwoman, that's because you aren't listening to the Clave. :cool:
    I am usually at the bar while my daughter is dancing, I'll buy you a drink. :cheers:
  13. casasalsa

    casasalsa New Member

    barrefly, funny...i know what you meant, but you still dont get it.... but its ok, one day. =)
  14. barrefly

    barrefly New Member

    You are very right, I don't get it. Someone posted this clip on another board....
    I was very curious about the girl taking notes.
    "He's been dancing for 8 yrs". In ballet, that would put you at a level 4. (13 and 14 yr. olds).
  15. casasalsa

    casasalsa New Member

    sorry, i dont get what you mean......
  16. barrefly

    barrefly New Member

    On2 just isn't that difficult. The only diff. between on1 and on2 is that on2 employs a bit more syncopation. The snycopation in on2 is repetitve, so it isn't hard to remember/learn. Afro-cuban doesn't always employ a repetitve syncopation, (it irks me a bit to see on2ers compare on2 to A-C just because on2 employs some syncopation) African is even more complex, and the mother of all complex syncopation in dance can be found in tap dance and flamenco.

    The subject is "why is salsa so hard..." The answer isn't. You just have to learn it. It doesn't matter if it's on1 or on2...the work is going to be the same. It's just that on1 (L.A. style) is generaly known to be more slot/pattern and with more tricks/flash and fast turns. On2 (N.Y. style) is generaly known for it's musicality and styling. (...yes, I am generalizing)
  17. casasalsa

    casasalsa New Member

    How do you know it isnt that difficult if you dont even understand why we dance On2? all i ask is that you stop trying to take somebody to a place you have not been, your gonna lose man.......
  18. barrefly

    barrefly New Member

    I didn't know there was a collective consciousness among on2 dancers?

    You are attempting to move the subject from "difficulty in learning salsa" to some kind of preference for on2 salsa. I have been coaching my daughter for over 13 yrs, I know a great deal about dance and dance training. (And yes, she also dances on2....she went from beginner to advanced in approx. 3 months). :snake:
  19. casasalsa

    casasalsa New Member

    lol, are you serious? im not talking tot he poster of this thread, im talking to you....and YES, there is a reason (something they feel out in music) someone dances ANY style of salsa, and if you dont know that, or dont know what i meant by my statement, i will rest my case, because it will be like giving a child a car to drive, wont know what to do with it.....

    and with all do respect.....unless your daughter gets salsa beyond your level (which im assuming she does), i DOUBT she is an advanced dancer

    and as a "coach" maybe you should embrace my input and learn it instead of taking the easy road and defending something that you obviously know NOTHING (or VEEERRRRRYYYYY LITTLE) about......
  20. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Take it easy everyone...

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