Salsa > Why one should learn patterns

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by lundasalsa, Nov 20, 2004.

  1. lundasalsa

    lundasalsa New Member

    I've noticed a couple of times this dislike of dancing in patterns here in the forums. (Most recently in the thread jealously and competition.) Of course, I agree that a good leader should be able to improvise depending on the response of the follower and the music.

    However, think back to when you were a beginner yourself. If I recall how it went for me: initiating a simple enchufla or single right spin required that I danced the basic step for several bars until I remembered at how to give the right signal at the right count. (Actually, that still happens to me whenever I learn something new.) By learning choreographed patterns, one gets examples of which moves connect nicely and one conditions the brain to do make these connections without concious thinking. I don't think a normal person can improvise non-choreographed connections before having "automated" them by memorizing patterns.
  2. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Perhaps this is because of the way that dance is taught?
  3. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    I really don't think is the patterns that are disliked, rather the pattern dancer. The person who sees patterns as dancing. Folks like myself bring the pattern to the forefront to bring attention to a world wide spread problem. There is zero connection, zero musicality, yet because we've done 30 patterns in 4 minutes we believe we have danced salsa... when in fact, that is the least of what we've done.

    It seems that folks who are worried about the patterns never really learn to dance, yet equal the completion of task as dancing. I dislike the thought of patterns when a person hasn't the philosophical know how of dancing.

    Patterns without the why, when, and how lead to nothing but the robotic formation, a linear dance, a sequential mess... for those that the patterns never do, it isn't because they know the patterns better, or more, but simply that they translate their philosophical state of thinking into reality.

    Note, that when we go to class for the first time we are thrown into patterns, so we end up believing that salsa is the pattern… then go on and teach a philosophy that lacks dancing. For we’ve failed to see that we have imposed a belief by simply teaching physical know how, without the mind that make it go…

    We grabbed less than half the dance and thought of it as the entire dance.
  4. rails

    rails New Member

    I agree with Boriken. However, from reading this forum you could easily get the impression that a lot of people think using learned patterns is bad and that you should be improvising every moment of a dance as though you'd never learned anything and the hand of God reached down and made you new and great with every song.

    I used to go to a drop-in lesson where the teachers would cram 6 or more patterns into an hour. I decided that was a waste of time for me. I couldn't retain much of anything and they never went into depth on how to make the smaller elements of the pattern work.

    Ideally, for me, these smaller elements or building blocks would be explained and demonstrated in a lot more depth. With a truer understanding of these building blocks I can then put them together to do the pattern taught in class or put them together in new ways. I can even experiment with the building blocks themselves by trying out slight changes. There are teachers around here who are good at this. Those are the ones I try to learn from.
  5. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    There aren't too many people, who even in teaching patterns explain the building blocks and deconstruct the patterns for the students. Such a philosophy does lead to pattern dancers as many haven't been shown the way. You are lucky to have some where you are rails.
  6. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    I don’t really see patterns as building block but rather so timing and the basic... new moves are created night in and night out... dancers throughout the years have done things years before never conceived...

    How did the moves that we have today come to be without a person to think of them? Well, that is the entire point of reaching deep down inside... If those people needn’t the instructor to reach the move, why can’t we?

    Moves are already there, they need not be taught, because once we feel the music and get in the zone (the zone is no more than the reach of ourselves within the music), they will pop out of us like popcorn in the microwave... that is what happens when we reach deep within ourselves... we'll do things that have never been introduced to us, nor witnessed... and that is why when you read some posts around here you do notice that some of us, especially me, speak of reaching deep inside to see what happens. Because I know for a fact that we can become that which we never dreamed without a lead to takes us there, the absent lead that soon becomes the self. Follow a dream that is said not to be real…

    Every invention, every great thought, every great idea, even the simple ones, ever conceived in this world came out of some where, that somewhere has been the person, where was the idea and how did the person find it?

    The point is, we can all get there, by simply listening to ourselves... all the patterns, all the moves that everyone knows, even if they aren't taught to us, we can come up with them, for they are already there, all we need to do is find the way there... we need no intro to the patterns, simply the building blocks of timing and the basic, along with an uncanny philosophical ideals to see a result where others see a dead end... then... the unfathomed belief that if you listen to yourself... well, the result will be there.

    That is the reason why I stress philosophical belief over being taught patterns and what to do on the dance floor… because all of us do have the ability to be a Socrates, Einstein, a Van Gogh…

    Do away with the idea that for us to be, we first have to be taught! Feel yourself, feel the music, and experience that which today we think not in every song. Dancing is art, art comes from the soul, from the heart, from the self… do learn the pieces you are taught if need be to accelerate what we do, but never forget that deep down is the us that isn’t taught anywhere, the us that others deemed impossible without guidance.

    The mind is the obstacle in dancing… apply an unfathomed idea to dance and see it come from a simple far fetch thought into reality. Note that the greatest minds of this world are known to have never been schooled. Why were they so great if never taught a thing? That is the dancer we all have inside, some just don't know how to seek it. That is the world of social dancing I see...
  7. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Heya lundasalsa!

    As the others have already said, I think the trend on the DF is to dislike patern dancers , not paterns in dancing. Go back and check out, for instance, the distinction being made the first time that the term "pattern dancer" was used here in the DF in this thread.

    The point isn't that patterns, themselves, are problematic but, rather, that those who execute patterns at the expense of their partners/dancing aren't really dancing at all.
  8. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    Heres an old thread where "pattern dancing" was discussed...

    :arrow: In defence of patterns

    I think there are more but I just can't remember what they were called... will dig further when I have time (got to go and get ready for dancing now :D).
  9. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    Yes, Boriken. Prime example. Ever been at a club or social with one of your friends from class and they spend the 4 minute song being frustrated because they can remember the pattern? They get upset because you're not following the pattern (really it's that they're giving you different signals) and try to teach it to YOU again like you weren't even there? Totally annoying. Almost like you can't dance unless it's from the cookie cutter instruction. To me this would be detrimental, particularly if you're new to the dance world, because it would be hard to dance "outside" the pattern and no muscial foundation to fall back on. Seen that many times. The problem with patterns is they run the high risk of limiting and stifling inspiration, creativty, spontaneity, passion, etc. and most importantly, really dancing. Personally, I feel too much imphasis is put on patterns and not the communication and musicality between the dancers. I know and understand the reason some instructors throw out the patterns most of the time but unfortunately, it doesn't create dancers, just robots. Now, if it's used totally as a teaching tool (i.e. if you want the follow to do a right turn, do this) or choreography, then cool but in a social setting.....
  10. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    Yup, sounds all too familiar -- it doesn't seem to occur to some people that they are supposed to LEAD the follower through the pattern... :roll: :lol:
  11. KevinL

    KevinL New Member

    I seem to come from a completely different place. I teach a lot of beginners (almost exclusively), and many of them have trouble with just doing the basic step in whatever dance we are doing (not salsa - I'm not good at salsa).

    If I didn't teach them the basics of where to move their feet, and how to move their bodies, and how to lead or follow those simple moves, they would not have any idea what to do. If I were to talk to most new dancers about feeling the music, and reaching down deep, they would probably respond with "how can you tell where the beat is when you are supposed to move?"

    I think I might be misunderstanding the whole point of this thread, though. It might be that this thread isl discussing people who have been dancing for "a long time" (whatevver that happens to mean) and actually have some basic building blocks that they can use as a base from which to improvise.

    By the way, who taught Socrates about critical thinking? Who taught Einstein how to do math? Who taught Van Gogh about how to choose materials, and then apply those materials to canvas? Didn't each of those people start with simple exercises and basic building blocks? Wasn't it only after they had mastered the small parts of their art or science (taught in large part by rote and memorization) that they were able to become masters of their art and science?

  12. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    didnt get the chance to read the reply posts here.. but put short, patterns are just fine.. actually great.. just so long as they entwine with the music like and putting your own flavor into them.
  13. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    It really all depends how we look at dancing...
    If I were to say dancing is self-expression then it’d mean that we must first know the self before we begin to self-express, so then moving the feet wouldn’t have a BUT before it, just a simple do it. However, if we say, lets mambo, then we have put a BUT on dancing which means we must follow the dance’s building blocks for self expression, hence the need for basic instruction, which Indeed is what I wanted to bring forth but seem to have failed. See, the “but” is what makes the difference in the dance not self-expression.

    With that in mind there must be basic rules of the dance. However the real issue here is how can a any mind take basic rules of math, painting, thinking and created something more? The basic ideas of math weren’t what took Einstein to history books, they weren’t even the beginning, but rather the ability Einstein had to reach deep within himself and use the mind to break/mesh all the taught rules and create a deeper understanding of rules of math, Socrates the world, Van Gogh painting. Kind of like Galileo, he was taught basic rules, but he broke them all and arrived to… These folks became more than the basics, the basics truly had not a thing to do with who they became, for had that been so, their instructors would have arrived to the same discoveries, but they didn’t. The mind…

    In all, it doesn’t matter what we learn or how much we are taught, for it is up to us to reach deep down and take what we have experienced throughout life and make it more than it is. To not use the excuse of knowledge as a limiting factor.

    A great mind is great because it becomes more than the sum of it’s cumulative knowledge. In the case of Einstein, Van Gogh, Socrates it is a fact that their education wasn’t enough to make them who they were, yet today we speak of them as very few men have been spoken of. What made them become so? The issue is if the basics of math, panting and critical thinking were the way to a great mind, how come their instructors weren’t their equals? How come some of us that are taught the same and have better education that all of the together aren’t more than we are? It isn’t what we know but how we use what we know to break into what isn’t yet known. That is my belief on dancing, it isn’t that we are taught the basic, or the more education of patterns, but how we reach deep within ourselves and create more than what we are supposed to. For had these great minds followed the basic teachings they were given, they would have reached the same basic principals they were taught, nothing more nothing less. For if we only follow the basic and patterns we know, we’ll never dance more than we are. That is where I like everyone to aim dancing, to be more than simply stepping stones, to create our own stepping stones, to not see our quantum-less teachings not as limits but rather as ability to become more than we are. To carve our own path, to all become great minds of dancing, see not buts as to why we aren’t but rather that we will be regardless.

    For where did knowledge come from if someone didn’t think of it before us? Find that somewhere and dance like only you can, that is keeping in mind there are “BUTS” to dance within.

    I really tried to keep it short... I'm sorry.
  14. huey

    huey New Member

    Don't they call this 'muscle memory'?
  15. huey

    huey New Member

    I was at a dance last night, and a girl who I know from a class was there. Turned out that she lived locally, and she and her partner had come to watch and take in the atmosphere, not to dance. She told me she liked to go the classes sometimes, but didn't like social partner dancing. I think she said the reason was that it seems 'regimented'. At first I thought it was strange for someone to go to classes and not like social dancing. But thinking about the idea of regimented moves, it sort of makes sense to me, as there is often that feeling of being stuck in the same patterns. She did say she likes going to clubs and dancing to House music.

    I've observed recently that people in bars often move more spontaneously to music when sitting down that when standing. They feel safer to improvise and have fun.

    The interesting question for me is:

    What is it that makes people step outside patterns when dancing?
  16. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

  17. lundasalsa

    lundasalsa New Member

    I have heard that term before (my singing teacher used it all the time), but I find it a silly term since the memory resides in the brain and not in the muscles. But apart from this semantic detail, you could use that term. You just think: "I can do a exibula complicada (sp?) from here" and your arms and legs just move. Otherwise, your head would be full with I have to step forward, simultaneously raise my left arm, then step back and signal a right turn by holding my left hand in the correct angle and moving it to the right while I at the same time step back...
  18. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Regimented social dancing? That's a function of the person/people she's watching and not social dancing. From my experience as a House, Hip-Hop, RnB, and Salsa dancer the amount of creativity is directly related to the dancer doing it and not the dance or venue.
  19. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    Well, I have to agree with Boriken... he put it best!

    I like patterns... I learn them and then change them as I see fit... :) Isn't this what patterns are made for???
  20. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    I remember watching a TV programme about the science of dancing (ballet). It said that muscle memory is really that. Apparently, doing the same movement over and over allows the signal to bypass the brain and cause the muscles to react almost spontaneously. When something is in your muscle memory, the brain no longer has to get involved in producing the right reaction.

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