How Do I Know If It's Right?

SDsalsaguy

Administrator
Staff member
#1
Taken, with permission, from Terryl's Corner - Advice and tips for dancers

Am If I'm Doing It Right??
By Terryl Jones

How do I know if I am doing "It" right? What appears to be a simple question is really quite complex. How do I know whether "It" is me or my partner?

The first question that has to be addressed is: What is "IT"? You can't decide whether or not "IT" is right until you decide what "IT" is. To most people "It" is Everything, the whole tamale. The problem with this concept is you are looking at the problem as "all or nothing" So for this article I will say that "It" is a series of skills that done together make a nice dancer. Not the star, not the winner of the competition, just a person everyone enjoys dancing with. To win a competition you require additional skills in order to have "It".

So, a series of skills that done together make you a nice dancer...now the question is: what are those skills? Partner dancing basically includes 4 parts: you,the individual, the couple, the music and the environment (which includes the floor, the amount of space, the location, the other dancers etc). What is the most important of those four? Many people will immediately say "the music". I beg to differ. I will say, the couple/partnership. What does it matter if you are on The Beat you believe is right if your parner is on another? What does your wonderful footwork/body action/cool move have to offer if your partner is hurt, beat up, left out, embarrassed, overwhelmed, bored or simply unimpressed? Secondly, is the environment. Is what the couple is doing appropriate for the location? Is it safe? Is there enough room? Are you doing X Rated moves in a G Rated Location? This also relates back to the partnership. Once we are both safe and comfortable, only then you can focus on the music and yourself.

What are the important skills in partnering? I have written another article on partnering so I won' break it down here. Not hurting each other by gripping, yanking or stepping on feet obviously ranks at the top. Generally moving together well, both partners adjusting to the size and direction of each others steps and movements. For those few minutes the two different people should feel like a single unit. In order for us both to have fun, we should both be trying to make the other more comfortable. We should both be aware of our surroundings, courtesy to our partner helps prevent crashes and makes the experience nicer for everyone. Some people feel that they have to dance the level of their partner, not so. Most beginners are terrified of feeling obligated to try to dance up to their partner. Most advanced dancers I know would much prefer their partner dance what they do well, rather than to try to force something that they simply can't yet do. Forcing usually includes some sort of gripping, yanking, pulling, falling or other undesireable. The vast number of advanced dancers I know do not feel that they should have to dance 100% every single dance, sometimes they like to just cruise. Partnering also includes your attitude toward your partner, is it something you do TO your partner or WITH your partner? It is not about achievement, it's about interaction. Remember that the object of the game is for everyone to have fun.


The music can be a subjective matter and I will leave that to another article, because that was not the essence of the original question. "IT" as it relates to yourself is a a much more difficult dilemma. You need a biofeedback system to assess the movements of your body. This can be external, as in a teacher, coach, or a partner. Ultimately you need your own internal biofeedback system. Teachers can tell you, "yes that was better, now more xyz" this is great and you can come to rely on their eye, but your own body has to recognise the right feel and be able to adjust. Mirrors also can be a great biofeedback. Your own eyes give you immediate information that you can compare to what you are feeling. In any case the end result is that you have to teach your own body how to recognise the feel that coincides with what your teacher and your eyes have told you. Once you are there, repetition and constant assesment will give you the experience to recognise the difference between what you have taught your body to do and what it wants to do on its own. Notice I said constant assessment. A biofeedback system is only good if its used. At this point many people make the mistake of believing that if it feels comfortable it must be "right". You must always go back to your teacher and mirror to check to see if you are really doing what you believe you are doing. I have found that the body lies and tells you what you want to hear. My own body tells me it wants chocolate cake every day, but if I believed my body, it wouldn't be long before my mirror would tell me a different truth. So you have to go back periodically and check to see that the information was not scrambled. You also want to teach your body the next level of "right". Hopefully your dancing has grown. Right for a beginner is different than right for an advanced dancer. I heard a wonderful quote "Practice makes permanent but proper practice makes perfect." This is the difference between practice and proper practice, simple repetition is not enough.

Is anything ever enough? Do you ever finish "getting it"? I believe that each one of us will decide for ourselves how far down the path of dancing we will go. I have been teaching for 23 years and still feel I have so much to learn, yet there are others who would love to be able to do half of what I can do. "It" is relative. While someone may possess a skill that you would love to have, you should always remember that we are all still on the same path. Some of us may be farther down the road than others but we are all still learning. The "It" that one person is trying to achieve is different than the "It" that another is working on. Which takes me squarely back to my opening premise: the object of the game is for everyone to have fun. So being a good partner is the most important "IT". How do you know if "IT" was right? Was anyone hurt? Did you and your partner have fun? Then "IT" was right.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
#2
This sounds like another conversation I was having with a dance teacher yesterday -- do you ever achieve your goals as a dancer. Her take was that, when you achieve a goal, you automatically set another. So as a dancer, there's always a new challenge in front of you. That's how I've been so far. But I have friends who are totally different, not particularly goal oriented, and who just want to have fun. Hmm. I guess each of us gets to decide when we're doing it right. All I know is, I'm not. ... Yet. :)
 

Sagitta

Well-Known Member
#3
SDsalsaguy said:
Taken, with permission, from Terryl's Corner - Advice and tips for dancers

Am If I'm Doing It Right??
By Terryl Jones

So for this article I will say that "It" is a series of skills that done together make a nice dancer. Not the star, not the winner of the competition, just a person everyone enjoys dancing with.

what are those skills? Partner dancing basically includes 4 parts: you,the individual, the couple, the music and the environment (which includes the floor, the amount of space, the location, the other dancers etc). What is the most important of those four?

I will say, the couple/partnership.

Secondly, is the environment.

Once we are both safe and comfortable, only then you can focus on the music and yourself.

Partnering also includes your attitude toward your partner, is it something you do TO your partner or WITH your partner? It is not about achievement, it's about interaction. Remember that the object of the game is for everyone to have fun.

a wonderful quote "Practice makes permanent but proper practice makes perfect." This is the difference between practice and proper practice, simple repetition is not enough.

being a good partner is the most important "IT". How do you know if "IT" was right? Was anyone hurt? Did you and your partner have fun? Then "IT" was right.
I cut out the passages that seemed to resonate most with me!! :)

Each time I read this different aspects catch my eye. First it was the passages about "IT" and "IT" respresenting a different goal for each person. This time that the most important thing about "IT" is the partnership. :)
 

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