Practice Makes Perfect...or Does It??

#1
WARNING: I am about to completely shatter some of the most
embedded beliefs that you've been raised to believe are true. If this
bothers you, stop reading now.


Growing up in the Bronx, I was never really into my Hispanic
heritage. I grew up with Hip-Hop, break dancing, and other
popular rhythms.

It wasn't until my cousins came from my native country of
Dominican Republic that I started to crave the Latin sounds.

At first, they gave me such a hard time for being so "Americanized"
that at times I really wanted to punch them right in the face!!

Then it hit me like a sledge-hammer right on the forehead...
They were right, and for the first time I felt out of place in my
surroundings.

All of a sudden, I WANTED to learn more about my roots, and
wanted to learn about my culture.

So that led me to learning Merengue...

Oh how I loved it!!

The fact that I could dance with a sexy girl real close really
appealed to the teenager in me!

Merengue was great, but what I wanted to learn was Salsa,
boy was that tough!

My first instructor kept telling me "You just gotta try harder..."
What the heck was that all about?!?!?

Am I back in high school with my Geography teacher telling me that
I wasn't doing good because I wasn't studying hard enough?

This is the first belief that I will shatter:

"Practice Makes Perfect"


That is such bull!! Let me tell you why this is completely false.

If you keep practicing the same thing and in the same way, all you
are doing is drilling in your brain the WRONG way of doing it.

For example. If you are learning to dance Salsa, and are practicing
the "Basic Step" the wrong way, then all you're doing is making
a bad situation even worse.

Instead of saying "Practice Makes Perfect", I say:

"It's perfect practice that makes perfect"

So of course I stopped going to that instructor and finally found
someone who, instead of saying "just keep practicing" he told
me the PROPER way to practice.

If you are struggling with something, why would you insist
on repeating it over and over again? Make sure that if you
are struggling with something, that you change and find out
if it's being done with proper technique in the first place.

Then, and only then, do you continue to practice.

Here's another belief system that I will shatter:

"If at first you don't succeed, try and try again."

Another stupid belief. Here's why:

You must figure out what your goals are.

If you decide to choose dancing as a form of exercise
only for the sheer fact of losing weight, and then you
figure that dancing is just too hard....

Then what's wrong with picking up another form of
exercise that will help you with your goals?? Does it mean
that you're a quitter simply because you have decided
that perhaps this form of exercise is not so conducive to
your original goals? Or do you continue to dance because
you've always been taught that "Quitters never win"?

Of course, if you dance because of the sheer joy that
it brings to you, then by all means continue.

But to continue doing something simply because someone
may think of you as a "quitter" when in reality it's not really
helping you achieve your goal, then it would be stupid to
continue doing it.

Again, figure out why you want to dance in the first place.

What need is it fulfilling, what urge is making you decide to
take up dancing. If after some time you realize that the same
goals you had when you decided to take up dancing can
be achieved by something you enjoy doing more....then for
crying out loud, DO IT.

A lot of people who support this warped "Persist at all
cost" mentality would say something like:

"Well, if Thomas Edison did not persist in creating the light
bulb, we'd be lighting candles."

Yes, Thomas Edison tried 10,000 times to make that darn
thing work, but...

...he didn't try the SAME material 10,000 times, he experimented
with 10,000 DIFFERENT materials!! So really Thomas Edison
was the biggest quitter of all time!!

So to those people I say this:

We have the light bulb BECAUSE Thomas Edison was a quitter.

Same goes for dance. If the particular act of dancing is not
helping you attain the goals you have set for yourself, and
if it's making a bad situation even worse, why on earth
would you stick with it?

Why am I saying all of these things? Is it because I want
less and less people to dance?


No way.

But what I am saying is that ultimately, you have to ENJOY
what you are doing. If you don't enjoy it, then it will not be
good for you, for your partner, or for anybody!

The problem is that because of beliefs
that we have grown up with, we sometimes do things
that are not always good for us.

So should you just give up when things go bad? No, but
you should ADJUST what's going wrong and then try again,
always keeping in mind the following question:

"Is this really what I want to do, and if so, how can I make
it better?"

If dancing is what you really want to do, and you are
struggling with something in particular, then you must
change what you are doing in order to make progress.

Don't fall into the trap of practicing over and over, when
that's not going to do anything other than get you more
frustrated, and even begin to have doubts about your-
self...

Respectfully,
 

Vince A

Active Member
#3
Don't Practice???

Now you tell me! What you wrote hit home. I was burnt out of Swing, Hustle, and NC2S . . . although that will only last a while. I do love those dances!

However, I now have discovered ballroom, and most of all, I have discovered Salsa! Have a few questions . . .

I've taken four private lessons since this past Friday. The dance comes very natural to me, because the music invites me to do what is natural. My body automatically reacts to the music. Since private lessons are a form of practice, should I keep taking them? I can learn patterns just by watching. In fact, one of the instructors was doing the Salsa, and I imitated him as he was dancing. Of course my lead may have been a hare slow, but it was there!

I also read your "7 Tips" article and trying to apply that message! Learned to hear that Salsa beat, and around here, everyone breaks on 1. Is that OK???

I know I'm not that good yet, but I felt that I was dancing (at a recent Ballroom/Salsa dance) better than most of the Salsa dancers that were there! Is this bad? Am I too confident too soon???

Thanks,
V
 
#4
Yeah, the reason why I wrote that post is because I see that
a lot...

Now as for your questions...

There's nothing wrong with being confident.

Period.

That's the great part of dancing...It will literally boost
your confidence in tremendous ways.

The one thing I can tell you is this...I know of great
dancers that continue to take lessons. And it doesn't
matter how good they are...they continue to hone there
skills.

That's what you need to do.

There isn't a point where you can say "I've learned
everything about salsa dancing"

Or any other art form for that matter. It's a process.

The more you do it, the better you get.

By the way, it really doesn't matter if you break on 1
or 2 (I personally dance on 2) the thing is that you
enjoy it...another thing to remember is this:

Why not learn to dance both ways.

It's like learning a second languange.

Once you learn a second language, the people you
can communicate with all of a sudden broadens.

The more dances you can dance to, the more
people you will be able to interact with. There's
nothing wrong with learning on 1, on 2, Rueda,
whatever...as long as you like it.

Also, as your training progresses, make sure that you
can really feel the beat. This is so important because as
the male it's your job to lead. So if you don't have a firm
understanding of the music, you will not be proficient in
leading.

That's something that a lot of instructors miss.

Now, I'm not saying to go and get a degree in music
theory, but don't dismiss it altogether either.

Well, I think that's it, but be on the look out for my next
post...I'll be sharing some pretty interesting facts, and
how it doesn't really matter who you are, you can and
will excel in salsa dancing if you really want to...

It should be posted soon.
 

Vince A

Active Member
#5
Practice Does Make You Better!

salsarhythms . . .

As an experienced dancer, yet new to Salsa, I thank you for your help!

Practice always makes a dancer better. It seems that, even in the dances that I feel I'm proficient in, I always go back to classes or privates for "the basics." I continually take lessons from time-to-time, and even switch instructors since I've learned that each instructor teaches different things and in different ways.

I agree about "learning it all." I don't think we live long enough to learn it all!
And I believe that the more you do it - whatever it is - the more confidence you gain! That's probably the reason I do not get nervous on the competition floor anymore . . . oh, there is some anxiety, but that is good. The anxiety is focused into confidence. We are only human . . . and when a mistake is made on the floor . . . it gets left where it happened!

Although breaking on 1 feels easy, breaking on 2 feels natural, since the Cha Cha breaks on 2. I'm trying to hear the Salsa music to feel that break. I'm also listening to the vocal parts as you suggest!

I do "feel" the beat, whether it is Salsa, Waltz, or Rap. I practice in front of a mirror to Rap music, just so that I can learn "to feel." I play several musical instruments, so music and music theory does help. I've really been applying it to my WCS dancing, as (most) music is written in 8s and the WCS is basically in 6s. So the music helps to set up phrasing and patterns for subsequent parts of the dance. Knowing the music helps to know when and where the breaks are and when they will happen . . . even though one can just react to a break. But I let the music dictate what I do.

Thanks again. I look forward for your nest post. I do learn from reading, then I can go home and apply it and practice it!
 

Vince A

Active Member
#9
cindymoose . . .

Back in May, I might have argued with this statement . . .
Coach Larry May once told me , "Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes PERMANENT."
But . . . and this is not Salsa related, but post related . . . I responded to this post twice last May, but was not competing then - only the year (2002) before, with 2 first overall wins and a dismal failure at World's. Bummed by this loss, I took the next 7 months off from dancing. After the 7 months, I could not even do the smallest parts of any of the routines in my head!

However, the week before last I began to put 7 routines back together for a competition on this coming Labor Day weekend. Within 3 practices I had completely refreshed my brain with the routines . . . all from muscle memory. We are now working on refreshed moves, styling, technique, spotting, turning, and getting into the floor more!

This is one person who can prove that "Practice makes PERMANENT."
 
#11
WARNING: I am about to completely shatter some of the most
embedded beliefs that you've been raised to believe are true. If this
bothers you, stop reading now....

This is the first belief that I will shatter:

"Practice Makes Perfect"....

Instead of saying "Practice Makes Perfect", I say:

"It's perfect practice that makes perfect"

....

Here's another belief system that I will shatter:

"If at first you don't succeed, try and try again."

Another stupid belief. Here's why:

You must figure out what your goals are....

But to continue doing something simply because someone
may think of you as a "quitter" when in reality it's not really
helping you achieve your goal, then it would be stupid to
continue doing it....

But what I am saying is that ultimately, you have to ENJOY
what you are doing. If you don't enjoy it, then it will not be
good for you, for your partner, or for anybody!

The problem is that because of beliefs
that we have grown up with, we sometimes do things
that are not always good for us.

So should you just give up when things go bad? No, but
you should ADJUST what's going wrong and then try again,
always keeping in mind the following question:

"Is this really what I want to do, and if so, how can I make
it better?"

....
This is brilliant advice for learning dance, or learning anything. Thank you so much for putting things in the proper perspective, and for stating it so clearly. Only perfect practice makes perfect, and if at first you don't succeed, try doing it differently, or doing something else to achieve your goals.
 
#14
This is a little off topic, but not really. Is the Salsa scene friendly to beginners (ie, learners?) Some background: I am taking private dance classes, group classes, practice parties, and so on. I want to start going out and using what I have learned. I have had good luck with Swing dancing--I have places to take an intro class and dance two times a week. I have been to one nightclub to take an intro Salsa class and dance. Plus I have taken some Salsa lessons from my studio. Anyway, after the nightclub class, people started to dance, but it didn't look like anything I have learned yet in any of my Salsa classes. There was a lot of whirling and twirling and booty shaking, but no one dancing at my level. Everyone was already with a partner and there was not a lot of available partners. Plus it was dark, loud, smoky/foggy and late (dancing really got going after 1130). It was not a scene that seemed open to beginners who need practice (bringing it back to the thread topic).

Of course I shouldn't generalize on the basis of one experience, but still...

So my question is, where would you suggest someone go if he wants to do "social" Salsa dancing" BTW, I live in Tampa.
 
#15
Some background: I am taking private dance classes, group classes, practice parties, and so on. I want to start going out and using what I have learned. I have been to one nightclub to take an intro Salsa class and dance. Plus I have taken some Salsa lessons from my studio. Anyway, after the nightclub class, people started to dance, but it didn't look like anything I have learned yet in any of my Salsa classes. There was a lot of whirling and twirling and booty shaking, but no one dancing at my level. Everyone was already with a partner and there was not a lot of available partners. Plus it was dark, loud, smoky/foggy and late (dancing really got going after 1130). It was not a scene that seemed open to beginners who need practice (bringing it back to the thread topic).

Of course I shouldn't generalize on the basis of one experience, but still...

So my question is, where would you suggest someone go if he wants to do "social" Salsa dancing" BTW, I live in Tampa.
Hi :)

If you are taking lessons, often the studio will often host a dance social night that may be more accessible for dancers. These tend to be popular, well-lit, playing familiar music that is easier to dance to.

Dancing socially at nightclubs is as much of an art as the dance itself. I'm not aware of any clubs in Tampa that compare favorably with larger cities. It sounds like you may be describing Hyde Park. The dance culture in the South isn't quite the same as the Northeast US, but you can still have fun. Pure, disciplined dance doesn't sell drinks, so not all nightclubs can afford to play classic salsa songs all night long, especially on weekends. One club to try may be Studio Inc, it has two floors, one just for salsa/merengue/bachata. Otherwise, I think it may be most helpful to go to the various studio social nights. There is usually at least one per weekend in Tampa.
 

Sagitta

Well-Known Member
#16
Yes, there is a difference between club Latin and a Latin night for dancers. I don't play classic salsa, but I would qualify my night as a Latin night. Lots of salsa, but adding merengue and bachata, and reggaeton depending on the crowd. I'm in the North East though, not Tampa.
 

tangotime

Well-Known Member
#17
So my question is, where would you suggest someone go if he wants to do "social" Salsa dancing" BTW, I live in Tampa.

My old "stomping " ground for many, many yrs .

The salsa regulars were always cautious with new people, especially if you are going to the primarily all latino clubs. The Wed. nite club on Dale mabry was generally more "cliquiy " for e.g.than others . Fri. and Sat. nites, was generally more acommodating .

Been quite a while since I was there ,so cant give you an update . Also to remember, there are a lot of latinos attending that dont speak english ( or very little ) and therefore tend to shy away if you ask in english .
Keep on going to the same clubs, and this way "they" will begin to recognise you, and start to accept you.
 
#18
The interesting thing I've noticed about practicing dance is the relative lack of feedback. You can say "practice makes perfect" with something like playing piano because if you hit the wrong key, your ears give you immediate feedback that you're doing wrong, and your brain can file that as "oops I just did something wrong" and you can stop and investigate, try different things, etc. whatever it takes to get the right tone. But with dancing (I do tango, not salsa) you don't get that feedback and it's very easy to be thinking you're doing something right but in reality be doing the wrong thing. Getting good feedback from partners, instructors, etc. is crucial to improving your dance.
 
#19
I love the quotation, have always loved it since first hearing it years ago. My challenge in dance is knowing when I am doing my practice as close to perfectly as possible.

In other endeavors, this is easier. For instance, in football a perfect practive could be striving to make 50 throws to someone without the ball hitting the ground.
 
#20
I love the quotation, have always loved it since first hearing it years ago. My challenge in dance is knowing when I am doing my practice as close to perfectly as possible.

In other endeavors, this is easier. For instance, in football a perfect practice could be striving to make 50 throws to someone without the ball hitting the ground.
So my point is: How do I know that I am practicing anywhere close to perfect practice?
 

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