Contra Body Movement - Male - Beginner

#1
Hi everyone,

This is the first dance related post of a person absolutely brand new to dance. I'm just dipping my toes into Salsa and have a question about Contra Body Movement, which I thought was called Counter Movement, but I probably misheard or misread that.

I'm having trouble understanding the transitions of arm/torso movements to steps. I realize that there is no rigid rule to how and at what speed to move your arms, but if I could get a breakdown of a good rule of thumb, it will help me get a feel for the movement which I can loosen up as it becomes more engrained.

So, if we start with a very simple men's stationary salsa basic, here are the movements to the counts. This is a very mechanical breakdown and in practice I'm sure it's not so rigid, but again this is for a beginner's point of reference.

Please correct anything that is wrong with

From both neutral
  1. Left foot step forward
  2. Right foot step neutral
  3. Left foot step neutral
  4. Hold
  5. Right foot step back
  6. Left foot step neutral
  7. Right foot neutral
  8. Hold
Would the arm movements be like this?
  1. Right arm forward (left foot step forward)
  2. Left arm forward (right foot step neutral)
  3. Right arm forward (left foot step neutral)
  4. Left arm forward? Nothing? (hold)
  5. Right arm forward? (right foot step back)
  6. Left arm forward? (left foot step neutral)
  7. Right arm forward? (right foot step neutral)
  8. Left arm forward? Nothing? (hold)
As you can see, I'm not understanding exactly what happens during the 4 and 8 counts. I had been practicing the arm pattern above and it just seemed wrong. Is the contra body movement in opposition to whichever leg is moving or in opposition to whichever leg is farther forward?

Thanks!
Chad
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#2
Welcome to DF, Chad.
Other than Contra Body Movement being something that should happen when we do something as everyday as walking, and is a used in many dances, I hope some of our more salsa oriented members will come along and help you out.
 

tangotime

Well-Known Member
#3
Hi everyone,

This is the first dance related post of a person absolutely brand new to dance. I'm just dipping my toes into Salsa and have a question about Contra Body Movement, which I thought was called Counter Movement, but I probably misheard or misread that.

I'm having trouble understanding the transitions of arm/torso movements to steps. I realize that there is no rigid rule to how and at what speed to move your arms, but if I could get a breakdown of a good rule of thumb, it will help me get a feel for the movement which I can loosen up as it becomes more engrained.

So, if we start with a very simple men's stationary salsa basic, here are the movements to the counts. This is a very mechanical breakdown and in practice I'm sure it's not so rigid, but again this is for a beginner's point of reference.

Please correct anything that is wrong with

From both neutral
  1. Left foot step forward
  2. Right foot step neutral
  3. Left foot step neutral
  4. Hold
  5. Right foot step back
  6. Left foot step neutral
  7. Right foot neutral
  8. Hold
Would the arm movements be like this?
  1. Right arm forward (left foot step forward)
  2. Left arm forward (right foot step neutral)
  3. Right arm forward (left foot step neutral)
  4. Left arm forward? Nothing? (hold)
  5. Right arm forward? (right foot step back)
  6. Left arm forward? (left foot step neutral)
  7. Right arm forward? (right foot step neutral)
  8. Left arm forward? Nothing? (hold)
As you can see, I'm not understanding exactly what happens during the 4 and 8 counts. I had been practicing the arm pattern above and it just seemed wrong. Is the contra body movement in opposition to whichever leg is moving or in opposition to whichever leg is farther forward?

Thanks!
Chad

First.. I don't understand what you mean by "step " neutral ?. In dance terms, this may mean several things, but in Salsa, probably you are saying, no progression ?.

More importantly.. at this stage of your learning, do NOT get caught up in detail that should have a lower importance on your learning scale.

You need to develop your " Frame/Poise/Hold " as your priority .

The technical aspects of dance are important, but, there are several things that take precedent at your stage .
 
#4
I agree with tangotime that maybe this should not be a priority. I find that I don't use the phrase contra body movement too much is salsa. Often it is the same side moving forward or back as you take weight on the foot. What you might want to explore is how you can balance your body in different ways. For example, if you left hip is moved left, might your right him move right in relation to the left hip? If your left chest moves forward, might your right hip be back? Learning how your body counterbalances itself might be something fun to study that might help you with your salsa too!
 
#5
As Steve mentioned, it's really the same movement as when you walk. In reference to the basics motion the rules of thumb for which arm/leg combo goes together and which speed is: the same as what happens when you walk. Your arms and legs move in oppsition and they move at the same time i.e. left leg steps forward and right arm moves forward, right leg steps and left arm moves forward. Try walking and swing your arms at a different speed than you are taking steps or moving the right arm when you step with the right leg and you'll see what it should not feel like. It's all very natural motion but exaggerated.
 
#6
Hi guys,

Thanks a lot for the replies. I've taken your advice and put the thought into a box to be pried open at a later date. Low and behold, it actually really helped. It turns out that I tend only to get into unnatural body movements when I'm actively thinking about it. My instructor corroborated my findings. My original goal was to improve the quality of my arm and body movement which made me think about it, which is when I began moving improperly. I basically caused one problem by trying to correct another problem I shouldn't even be worrying about yet.

To answer your question about how I used the term neutral, tangotime, I meant the place where you start a beginner's salsa basic from. So, the foot position of neutral would be left and right foot directly underneath you, about shoulder width apart, and how I generally stand before I start any movement.

DanceMentor, I think that could be an interesting exercise. We recently did a short balance class at the studio. Most of it was about dynamic balance and spine placement and orientation. I can see how understanding the way movement of extremities affects balance would be beneficial.

Best,
Chad
 

tangotime

Well-Known Member
#7
Hi guys,

Thanks a lot for the replies. I've taken your advice and put the thought into a box to be pried open at a later date. Low and behold, it actually really helped. It turns out that I tend only to get into unnatural body movements when I'm actively thinking about it. My instructor corroborated my findings. My original goal was to improve the quality of my arm and body movement which made me think about it, which is when I began moving improperly. I basically caused one problem by trying to correct another problem I shouldn't even be worrying about yet.

To answer your question about how I used the term neutral, tangotime, I meant the place where you start a beginner's salsa basic from. So, the foot position of neutral would be left and right foot directly underneath you, about shoulder width apart, and how I generally stand before I start any movement.

DanceMentor, I think that could be an interesting exercise. We recently did a short balance class at the studio. Most of it was about dynamic balance and spine placement and orientation. I can see how understanding the way movement of extremities affects balance would be beneficial.

Best,
Chad
I'm curious to know why you stand with your feet wide apart to begin. This means you have divided weight, unless you have the weight on one foot .
 
#8
Hmmm, I imagine it's because of my inexperience. Also, my feet may be less than shoulder width apart. The important thing was illustrating that neutral meant that I am putting weight on or moving my foot to a position directly below me, as opposed to behind, forward, or to the side of myself. There's a good chance my stance needs tweeking. I'm guessing the instructor has more pertinent concerns, me being a bit over a month new to dance. Is there something specific you have in mind for an appropriate starting position and weight distribution? I believe that I tend to leave most of my weight on my right foot to start, as our studio teaches beginner salsa basic with the man's right foot going forward on his first step. This is the norm, correct?
 

tangotime

Well-Known Member
#9
Hmmm, I imagine it's


I believe that I tend to leave most of my weight on my right foot to start, as our studio teaches beginner salsa basic with the man's right foot going forward on his first step. This is the norm, correct?
Now this confuses me ? The man going fwd on his Right foot ?. Unless he's prepping for breaking on 2 , then NO. The man , if using "1" steps fwd on left.

other options..back on L and break back on R ( that would be then on "2"
 

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