Discussion in 'Salsa' started by pygmalion, Dec 14, 2003.
Boriken & SalsaRhythms........I LOOOOOVE reading your posts!
:notworth: :notworth: :notworth:
Joder, do people live in a perfect world or what?
People don't go to salsa classes to learn to dance to the music or to get rhythm and flava. People want to learn salsa like they learn karate, do patterns, repeat moves, rinse, repeat. Eventually you'll get good and all the girlies will go 'oOOOH aahhhh'.
If it is all about flava, there would be no dance schools. Latinos don't walk around the street going 'Hmmm, I wonder if Jose down the street has studio hours open?'. You go to a party, the songs speak to you, you shake your hips like your grandma did, and boom, a dancer is born. When dancing has been there all your life, flava is kinda there. You don't teach passion, you don't teach flava. How the hell do you even teach flava? Do you move grown adults to Cuba and deprive them of TV so all they do is have sun and dance? Do you make them watch re-runs of 'El Chapulin Colorado' and then force them to move to a country where they are treated like garbage so they can relate to Hector Lavoe?
Bla bla bla. You can clean up salsa and whitewash it all you want. Truth is, studios make money because they are shortcuts to a cultural experience. Isaac Altman is no different. Spanish culture is hot today, it's exotic. Wow, you actually like your family? Wow, you mean your grandma worships Santa Barbara, who is really an African God in disguise? And you see this really warm, friendly environment in a cold, individualistic and materialistic society and you want to embrace it. The studios just sell this promise.
You can argue about flava and dance school clones all you want. Do you dance in a slot? Do you do cross-body leads? Do you know how to find the one count in the song? Then you have already lost the flava battle.
Most latin clubs on my neck of the woods exists because that's where all the drug deals used to happen. And the latin nights? A way to get the money off the drunks who come and watch the girlies in the clubs.
Joe from Colombia dances diferently from Raul from Cuba. You can't really learn to dance in NY the same way you can learn to dance in Puerto Rico. But they dance that way because they didn't go through the studio shortcut, that is the way the people around them danced all their lives. You go to cuba and ask people to do shines and they'll all do it the same way. A bunch of people agreed on how to interpret the music and boom, there you go.
Why do you make it sound like salsa is this pure, holy thing? It's just a way of shaking your knat. Everyone is trying to be rich and get laid. Codify and encapsulate salsa, you mean, like the way Eddie Torres did? Where he grabbed moves danced on clubs, gave them names and then started teaching moves. Or the way Eric Freeman is making up names for casino moves so he can put them in front of videos? Isaac Altman is just not cool because he is not a well known name in the salsa world, but I bet that if it was Edie The Salsa Freak, Josie Neglia, Ismael Otero and all the salsa gods who came up with the suggestion, most people will go, hey, that's a great idea!
Brujo, I think your way off base. Quite frankly, to say:
is a load of crap! If you want to say “can you not do a cross body lead?” or “do you only dance to counts?”, well, that’s another story. Such questions basically highlight that there’s an intrinsic sterility involved if you can only dance in one way. But to say that being able to do a cross body lead or being able to “find the one” are problematic, in themselves, is nonsensical in the extreme! These, like anything else, are tools. If you want to say you can generate all the sabor in the world without such elements, well then I agree whole-heartedly. Saying that one cannot have sabor with these elements, however, is ludicrous. It’s what you do with them that matters.
I also disagree with your take on Isaac Altman vs. Edie The Salsa Freak, Josie Neglia, and Ismael Otero, etc. If you don’t like them, there styles, or what they teach, well that’s your opinion and you’re as entitled to it as I am to mine. But I do think there are fundamental differences between these people and Isaac. While each of these others has a particular style which they prefer and try to spread, each is also well versed in other styles and tend to appreciate each style in it’s own right. I guarantee you that Edie, Josie, and Ismael are never going to tell some Puerto Rican grand parents that they’re dancing “wrong.” And it is in this same vein that none of these individuals have ever tried to push for a standardization of salsa despite there own preferences, opinions, teaching, and video tapes. All such instructors seem to have a genuine respect for salsa, in all its varieties, which Isaac is sorely lacking.
Brujo, I don't think the division between street dancers and school taught dancers is as sharp as you make it sound. To take an example: I met a guy from Venezuela who taught me a very basic combination. He said that at home his friends and family get him to teach them dance steps. My point is that there are always going to be a few people around who are especially good dancers. Others will go to them for lessons of one sort or another, and if that's not possible, they will often try to imitate them.
In this book I have been reading, City of Musical Memory, it mentions that the dancing in Hollywood movies (especially Fred Astaire) made a big impression on Colombian dancers, and one of the dancers in Cali who is widely considered to be among the best (by locals) says that he got a lot of his ideas from Fred Astaire.
Boriken and Salsarhythms seem to imply that an unique personal style "FLAVA" should be taught by the studios. I am saying that studios, at least in the United States, Canada and western countries, are shortcuts to the whole cultural experience of Latin America.
As such, they teach basics. By encouraging people to figure out by themselves, they get bad habits from the beginning. Most people I know that have never taken lessons will hit the clubs and freeze on the dance floor, or just do the back and forth basic when the first start up. They are basically paying the studio to help them go past this stage where they can at least start to do the same patterns, even repeatedly. I think this is where the whole 'Dance Pattern Machines' debate start up.
After a while, once dancing to the music comes naturally and one doesn't worry anymore about their basic steps, then all the styling elements can be added and improvised. If you encourage development of style over technique at the beginning, you end up with a mediocre latin american dancer ( rough lead | bad floor skill ).
Dance studios are not big in Latin America because people don't have the disposable income to go and learn to dance. They learn to dance in the clubs, in the bars, in the streets. In Cuba, it's like TV. The dance culture is just different in North America and it's clones. And this whole magical 'FLAVA' thing is a bunch of crap too. I think most people learn the vanilla pattern whether it is a cross body lead or a hammerlock or a enziguri back-kick and perfect it. After they do, they find variations to it and play with it, but the basic, vanilla, plain pattern is always there.
Brujo, I was reading your comments out of the full context of the discussion, then, because I agree with most of what you said in your last post (I think). (I'm at work and reading lazily, so I might turn around later, re-read, and disagree again on closer inspection.)
They won't necessarily say that they are dancing wrong, but they will give them a ton of advice in regards to technique and execution. Just like Edie encouraging this whole Millenium style, or the NY dancers saying that on2 is better. These are all artificial restrictions and essencially rules that are imposed on those who learn from them and teach from their styles. If you take a series of classes with them, you will never learn to dance like the Puerto Rican grandma. Is there a basic salsa curriculla? maybe not by committe, but if you go to new york, you need to learn that the dance is done in a slot, how to execute a cross-body lead, what the basic step looks like. Is this a bad thing? No, it will give whoever doesn't dance salsa enough confidence to hit the clubs after a few months and not feel like an idiot on the dance floor.
Good point, Brujo. It's not that one particular person or style is wrong.
Personally, I think Salsa is more than one dance. It's a family of dances that are related. Rueda is not on2 is not LA is not Peurto Rican Grandma style.
The differences between the different styles of salsa are so striking that you can't just say, "...and one Ring to rule them all." (Lord of the Rings analogy). And there are people who would sooner throw that ring right back into the fire pit of Mordor! :lol:
I agree that studios are a useful stepping stone to learning salsa for many. However, probably because I learnt from a street dance instructor, he doesn't pretend that he's teaching me street salsa, salsa with FLAVA. He clearly says he's teaching technique, patterns, and giving us some hints how to develop our own style. I am fortunate in that respect. I personnaly haven't ever experienced the ballroom style vs the club style clash. I actually have seen people suffering from it though!!
However, I see the utility of having another way of popularizing salsa, through having a standardized syllabus. (I don't personally think I would ever take a ballroom salsa class, but that's me.) In NYC I've heard stories about the on1 and on2 cliques who think that the other doesn't know how to dance salsa, are not willing to dance with them...These are street dancers who refuse to respect other styles. Similarly the idea of having ballroom type salsa is fine with me as long as it does not pretend to be social salsa, the salsa of the streets. Ballroom waltz, foxtrot, swing, jive, samba, cha cha, mambo... are different animals from their social/street versions.
Let's take waltz, for instance, ballroom waltz, to explore this issue further. I have learnt quite a few versions of waltz, both from here and from other countries throughout the world. But we accept that when we learn ballroom waltz there are two styles that are used in competition. This does dilute the vitality of the many other varieties/styles, but it allows for everyone to have the exact same standards on which to be judged on, rather then having to also take into account different salsa styles.
I do see where your points are coming from, Brujo.
The studios exist as a 'short cut' to the Latin American dance culture. Very true. And why shouldn't they exist...? Not everybody would have the opportunities to be exposed/in contact with the people who grew up with THAT culture. Some second/third generation of Latinos in the Western countries may not know any more than their Anglo neighbours....so they also benefit from the studios.
The whole point that Boriken & salsaRhythms made is that one needs to find their unique style, instead of 'parrot-phrasing' everything that's been taught to them. Afterall, salsa is a street dance, it's s'posed to evolve.
That is PRECISELY why I believe that techniques & personal styles are equally as important as each other. I've come across too many of those 'mediocre latin american dancers' who believe themselves to represent the 'true Latino styles' (these are the people that would make comments such as: ".....they look flash out there, but they take classes." Like it's a bad thing)
That is why I encourage people to talk and dance with each other. Share experiences/knowledge/passion. The segregation doesn't do anybody any good; especially when we all to share the same form of social past time.
Exactly. That's why we end up with so many 'cookie-cutter' dancers out there (AND each city seems to have their own version, depending on which studios dominate)! These clones may not even be aware that they lack anything, thus perfectly dancing away happily (nothing wrong with that either). It only becomes problematic when people get self-righteous and start telling others that "we are right, you are wrong".
Since salsa dancing is a social thing, shared by thousands across the globe, we have a HUGE opportunity to learn from each other. No, the world is NOT perfect, and nobody said so. but this is the only world we got, why can't we make a little difference everyday to JUST make it THAT little bit better......? Why do we go salsa dancing...? Because we want to ENJOY ourselves, make contacts with others, BE THERE.
*that's why I love salsa dancing globally, or hosting salsa visitors . If each city makes their own kinda 'cookie' wouldn't it be a lot more fun to mix all the different kinds of 'cookies' into a 'big cookie jar' :wink:? Wouldn't life be more interesting :lol: ?*
When have I ever implied such a thing Brujo?
If you were at all familiar with me and what/how I teach
(you're obviously not), you'd know that the last thing I
do is say that any "flava" would come from a studio or
another person for that matter.
In an earlier post I was very specific in saying that the
fundamentals are needed, either through an instructor
that is paid, or a friend, relative or whatever.
After that, you have to make it yours and whatever
flava comes from that has to come from you.
It could be E. Torres, or Edie, or anyone, if they came up
to me with the stupidity of a World standard and that I have
to go to them to be certified, they'd be treated with the same
animosity as Mr. Isaac Altman.
In fact, people like Eddie Torres, or Edie always stress the
importance of making the music your own, and evolving it
on your own. That's very different from the stance of I.
Are they shortcuts, sure, that's what this country is all about,
faster, easier, so you pay for it.
And I don't care what you or anyone else says for that matter,
New York is where this whole thing started. Was it here before?
Sure it was, but it was in the streets of New York that it has
become what it has.
It has evolved from there because people make it their own and
have included their own flava...but I for one, have never said
or even implied that this is the purpose for a studio.
My bad, I read back to the posts and I think I attributed a statement made by Boriken back to you. Sorry about that, Fernando. This was not a personal attack.
You know Brujo, I should apologize as well.
I love your comments because you always point out things
that others are sometimes hesitant to bring out.
I didn't take it as a personal attack at all, just wanted to
clear that up...
But I too apologize for being so hasty...
Ping pong, ping pong...
Ok, can I for one, say something in a few words... Hmmm
Brujo, all music follows a pattern, hence their dance will follow a pattern. Everything in this world pretty much follows a pattern. Even the left must go in front of the right or viceversa to walk. Even then we don't say, hey we all walk the same because we follow the same patterns, a la flava.
Patterns, style, foot work aren't the same as flava. If that were the case, I wouldn't say we need flava. Because a person learned in the street, doesn't mean they have any flava either. Nor would I say that a person who has been listening to salsa all their life has flava. I know cubans, domincans, ricans, colombians, who have never taken a class, dance salsa and couldn't look more lifeless.
By flava I mean, teach someone how to get in touch with his or her inner dancer. Teach them how to move the body not as you would, but as they themselves would. We teach patterns, we teach steps, we teach style, yet many move the same. The good ole' "guess the school" game. Why? Because they were never taught to let loose and move that body as their innerself would. Not me, not Fernando, but Brujo. We can spend the rest of our lives dancing and if we can never get in touch with our inner dancers, we'll always be flavaless. The dancer will always dance from the head, and the head is all about limits, correctness, and rationale.
What good is it to teach my kid to run, if he doesn't even know how to walk? That is what I mean by teaching patterns and steps instead of getting to know your inner dancer. I know how to drive a car I just don't know which is the gas pedal, the clutch or the brake. That is what I mean! What good is it to drive if you don’t know when to use the gas, brake, nor clutch? To you my version would result in bad dancers because they wouldn't be as prominent with steps, or patterns. Yet, those dancers would be on beat, moving to the music as the music calls for, as one, and with personal styles (flava), which they developed from their innerself, yet all look different doing the same movements and dancing to the same songs. How would their lead be? Going to a school and learning steps doesn't equal to a good lead, nor great followers. That comes from experience, so with experience these guys will be as good as the next. We aren't robots, we are all different, so shouldn’t we all display the true US on the dancefloor?
To me dancers have to be strong solo dancers, this isn't tango. This is salsa, salsa is about the mating ritual, making each other know that you two are one even when you are apart. Not by control but by movement, call and response, catering to each other's needs. When you come together it is to bring dancers for the physical part of foreplay. Not the wam bam thank you ma'am thing. It is about LOVE & PASSION Brujo, it isn't about girls, it isn't about who is looking at you, it isn't about patterns/moves, it isn't about partying, it isn’t stepping. It is about LOVE, it is a lifestyle where salsa is your world and your mate the subject of all interactions within that world and its love. And that is where flava comes in. I wanna see your true self out there. Not a short version of your instructor. I wanna see you. I don't want to see how many patterns you can pull-off in a 3 minute song. I don't want to see how close you can get to that hottie in the short skirt. I don't want to see how many lucky nights you get in a week. I don't want to see how much you know. I don’t want to see who is looking at you. I wanna see you and her. I want to see you two become one and display the love salseros share as it makes you display it. It is a lifestyle Brujo, a lifestyle, it is nothing less... The many that never achieve that understanding speak of LIKING, speak of girls, speak of the same, those who do, speak of soul/flava and love.
Our views are from different perspectives and why you have written what you have, and I what I have.
Boriken . . . :notworth: :notworth: :notworth:
I'm feeling bashful right about now. Thank you SD.
Plz don't be.........I am still waiting for that book of yours to come out ! AND I'd love to have my copy signed :wink: .....!
:notworth: :notworth: :notworth:
*still waiting for that dance...*
Me three, Boriken!
What do you do to help people bring out their "inner dancer?"
That's what's missing in me!
Relax. Stop thinking. Let your body move naturally. It's like meditating...or that's what it is for me when I get there, when I do.
Separate names with a comma.