Why is Musicality So Hard/Rare to Find in Salsa?

tj

New Member
Heretic... I like that word, fits the situation well.

Nice posts, you two. :)

Immediately off the top of my head, I know of two guys who I would label "salsa heretics", in that they do their own thing, their own way. (No, neither post here or on SF). Both are quite musical in their dance interpretation, and one does some pretty outrageous spectacular stunts at times.

But I think the cost for both of them is dance connection. One of them tends to look like he's yanking around & losing his partner a lot of the time. And that he's out dancing her. When you watch him, you tend to only watch him, while his partner is mostly just dancing in place watching him.

The other gets complaints all the time from the "trained dancer" crowd. Some female friends really really hate dancing with the guy and have put him on their blacklist. He has a prior history of hurting more than a couple of salseras, so it's unfortunately well deserved. (I've been told that he's safer nowadays.)

So I guess my point is, that there certainly are "dance heretics" out there. We just need to find ones that can lead us to the next level - and we somehow need to be able to distinguish the brilliant ones from the "false ones".
 

Sagitta

Well-Known Member
ok...just so ya know...no yanking around from me. Not one lady has got hurt from me doing "funny" stuff. ;-)

And if the connection isn't there...dancing is pointless...it's not dancing
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
"if I didn’t grant him the ability to become musical."
Teachers teach, but students must do the learning.

There's a guy where I do most of my dancing whom I've been telling him for at least a year that people aren't dancing to the music, and (every once in a while) he isn't, either. And they would really be dancing and not just doing moves and patterns if they were with the music.
I know part of this for him is that he just likes to get a rise out of me, but he IS listening. His latest statement was that he'd taken probably close to a hundred lessons from lots of teachers, and no one has talked about being in time with the music.
Well, of course, there are way more not so good dance teachers than there are good teachers.
I think that if someone is teaching dance, it is their responsiblity to at least teach people a basic concept that music has a rhythm, and your dance goes along with that.
Course, watching some teachers dance shows where the problem is. You can't teach something you don't know.
 
Teachers teach, but students must do the learning.
Often people do not have the ability to learn, they can only assimilate facts (be taught). A person with an inability to learn, yet ability to be taught (digest information without the process of questioning and experiencing the very teachings from which to create the actually process of learning), can never truly learn. This type of person, synergized to the average instructor, can only clone. The student will act as if a library; filled of information which he can only spew. He can't reason with it, he can't scale it. He can only repeat it back. It is a failure of the instructor because he didn't recognize that the student needed more than 2 x 2 = 4. Fast-forward to today’s scene, the student here spoken of, is now the instructor.

I’ve always admired the ballroom folks who never leave the “aura” that needs to go with any type of dance.

In salsa, we think that musicality is following rhythmic structure or its knowledge, when musicality is actually a personal emotional interpretation of the music to some type of flow. A robot can assimilate structure, but is he musical? A robot acts only as knowledge, who does not have an ability to interpret the “essence” of the music, or inner most emotions, which IMHO, most instructors fall under the robotic category.

If I were to accept that knowledge of the music/rhythm leads to musicality, I would then also have to discard those people who do not know the first thing about music yet posses musicality.

The significant problem with teaching musicality is to point at an outside force, such as structure, and ask of a student to learn it in order to follow it bio-mechanically.

We should really be asking the student what he is feeling during the song. He can then tune to his emotion and feel what is going on, then and only then can he say what the rhythm is telling him, not me, or anyone else, but him. Now, we teach the mechanical composition of rhythm and add bio-mechanical technique, ‘cause we’ve truly began to build from the ground up.

There are a plethora of dancers who know more about music than salsa itself, yet they are as robotic as Ford Motor Company’s assembly line. What’s missing if knowledge of the music and technique are already present? The person.
 

Vince A

Active Member
Ya' think it's tough in dancing, try teaching music, rhythm, phrasing - musicality - to wanna be guitar players and drummers.

I am in a band that writes and plays all of it's own music . . . originals! I play bass, though I am mostly a lead guitar player. I have also played in a lot of bands and know music quite well. I also write and teach music students, as well, as dance students.

I have a rhythm guitar player who writes most of the songs. He knows little about the counts, the rhythm, the phrasing . . . he plays chord structures according to what he is singing, and most of his chords are made-up chords. He has never played in a band, nor in front of anybody. Our lead guitar player is somewhat better, but does not know music . . . he plays what he feels is correct, mostly a lead riff or lick throughout an entire song! The drummer has been playing for a couple of years, but won't stay connected to me, the bass player, nor will she stay with the same drumlines throughout the songs. Our singer sounds like Stevie Nicks - very good.

Now, is any of this wrong? Of course not, some very famous song writers wrote songs like our song writter. My point???

Since I've been with them these last three months, I have fought with them over the musicality - counts, phrasing. I couldn't even imagine dancing to this music . . . I just couldn't do it!

I'm about to quit this band, but I'm not a quitter . . . I just have to keep teaching them. They're like some of my students who have two-left feet and no rhythm, but want to compete next month!!! Gr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r . . .
 
well vince a, then me and you could write a book, i"ve teach quitar, bass & still teach dance (about 7 different dances) i've played off and on for 35 years in bands. i dont like to put people down for trying(by my writing you wont get this.lol.) but i do get ticked off with so called musicans&dancers who (think they know ) what there talking about, i have a buddy who excell"s in areas of the quitar that can make ones head spin(im a very skilled player, but this stuff he does is very advanced, he would say to me, dude when you play you really feel it, but i cant get out of my head, and i"d say (i know!!!!!) its very hard to teach someone that. i still say dancers should listen more to the music and not the dance teachers for there musicality, because there are many different things happening in music that one can hear and this is the beauty of it, that one can express what they hear (if there hearing right) add that to your dance instructors and all can be well......
 
Guys, if you find any conclusions, I want to hear them! My mission if I have one is to connect our local dancers with the music and our musicians with the dancers. So far the only thing I have come up with is the importance of LISTENING. That means

1) dancers (especially leader) listens to the music
2) both partners "listening" to the connection between partners
3) teachers "listening" to their students
4) musicians watching the dance floor

VinceA I feel your pain. I tried out as percussionist in a new 'funk' band a while back, but the bass was not connected to the drummer and the drums had no swing that I could hook onto. It's no fun when there's no dialog.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
"There are a plethora of dancers who know more about music than salsa itself, yet they are as robotic as Ford Motor Company’s assembly line. What’s missing if knowledge of the music and technique are already present?"
If they are dancing robotically, their techinque is not very good, I would argue.

I submit to you that the first step in dancing musically is learning to be in time to the music. If you haven't taken that first step, no matter how much of anything else you put into your dance, I can't accept that you are being musical.
Based on the current low standards when the public dances, I would be grateful if most people would learn to just move in time to the music. (and if their teachers had told them this, over, and over again.) The rest of it (which is considerable) is gravey.

P.S. I was disappointed by what I saw as a lack of connection to the music in the Twyla Tharp / Billy Joel "Movin' Out". It felt more like an exhibition of dance technique than an expression of the music. So, my standards can be quite high. But for the general dancing public...
 
A brief something about my dance philosophy: Dance transcends the body; it is not bio-mechanics. Anyone can dance well and possess uncanny musicality regardless of physical abilities. Dancing is from within, the judgment passed upon my actions based on some outside force does not reflect, in any form, the wealth with which I dance, rather the interrogator’s physical view of dance which he direly needs in order to conclude the efficiency of my motion based on x, y, z. He is not really looking at dance, rather judging bio-motion…

Even when I accept that the norm is for motion to be considered dance, I can’t subscribe to it, as I find it a rather superficial definition of human actions during dance. If I were into the reign of the ego over the body and the conquest of the obstacle (motion over sound), then I would think of both musicality and dancing as per the body.

If they are dancing robotically, their techinque is not very good, I would argue.
I use robotically as a disjunction between emotions and music. Technique can be very good, yet emotions lousy, turning the dance to a technically correct bio-motion that lacks emotions. ...and what I deem a robot.

The statement: ["It felt more like an exhibition of dance technique than an expression of the music.”] I read as: Robots, motion without emotional-musical expression, more so than their bodies not matching my perceived equations of the music. It might be the lunatic in me…

I submit to you that the first step in dancing musically is learning to be in time to the music. If you haven't taken that first step, no matter how much of anything else you put into your dance, I can't accept that you are being musical.
Your position is understood, though my first step to dance resolves to knowing yourself. Only then should we learn the intricacies of deepened motion. With time use the acquired knowledge to build some form of dance, or even follow the rules laid by the “dance” world to say that you dance...

To dance there need be no timing to any music. As appalling as it might be, there is very well a dance, and it can be very musical. I can not deny anyone’s actions because I believe them to be an injustice to that which I believe to do well; musically dance.

I view the statement of dancing on time, not really initial steps nor means to dance, rather one produced to give some sort of judgmental meaning to locomotion over a precise set of audible signals.

Noting your greater appeal towards both musicality and movement upon music, I can understand your position in both the lack of good instructors in the social world as well as skilled drivers of the human locomotion. Despite my view dance, I do share your sentiments. I refuse to purchase a McPrivate from many of the McInstructors out there.

Though, I do grant that seeing a person move technically flawless while sharing my view of dancing is more than worth the price of admission… Simply stated, it is the synergy of the body and soul! That moment joins both planes (physical and emotional). Triggered by the music, the synergy depicts to the audience an embodied view of my inner-self. Holy Cow, that’s truly dancing. My question is, will I ever see more people who actually feel something? Or are they just gonna get stuck reasoning musical structure and which steps go where and when?
 
This topic came up in my class this past week, as my instructor launched into a discussion of how we might or might not get the shine down perfectly, but that the more important thing was to understand how to make our movements align with the music & why he chose the shine to go with that particular part in the song...continuing to talk about how certain parts of songs are smooth or "slow" & should be matched by certain kinds of movements, that flow with the music, rather than forcing standard shines or learned patterns for shining over them. And even then, he emphasized what so many have said in this thread about being attuned to the music so that your movements are in a kind of reciprocal relationship with the music, one emphasizing or accentuating the other.
It was a cool thing for him to talk about in a lesson, hearing how so many instructors around the world don't talk about it. And cool to see what we're talking about acted out in class for the movements we were doing.
 
OK I've read up about the 4 page, this one of the longest discussions I've seen. So here is what i think.

The reason why musicality is so poor and rear in salsa
(as I'm sure many here said already I'm just giving you my opinion)
is because:
1) the way we are taught/ what we are taught

2) that's it... there is no second

I think basics of musicality(or how to be musical and dance to the music) should be one of the basic things we have to be aware of when starting to learn salsa.

Whoever will say its not for the beginners is full of $@$% since most of my more musically connected dances happened with an intermediate dancers and were much more enjoyable then any of the other dances i had with a super exp. master dancers.

The only problem and its a pretty big problem that there is no simple solution.

Just as you can rebuild a base structure of a house(if the foundation wasn't build right u cant fix it) u better of taking it down and building a new one.

So is with the salsa. We wont be able to patch it. :headwall:
The good news is there is thousands of "new houses" coming up in the world salsa every night. And one of these people is going to be the one who's going to change this dance for ever :notworth: I just hope i will have the privilege to work with him and dance to his side:rocker:
 
I know the answer.

It's because nobody learns history, or cares about it, or finds easy access to it.
Bleh!! You argue that reading about the history of salsa creates sabor on the floor? I have my doubts about that. Not that learning the history of salsa isn't a good thing in its own right, but I seriously doubt it would improve anyone's body motion. :p

I think it's about watching people with sabor and experimenting on your own. The untrained Latinos who say they "dance from the heart" aren't just covering up insecurity. They can't lead, follow, or do any acrobatic tricks, but they've had a lot of years of exposure to music and motion.

why does greedy get so many icons?
Maybe the ones in the sig line don't count?
 
learning what came before salsa can certainly help. what are the chances that someone who can dance columbia will completely lack in sabor while dancing salsa?
 
OK I've read up about the 4 page, this one of the longest discussions I've seen. So here is what i think.

The reason why musicality is so poor and rear in salsa
(as I'm sure many here said already I'm just giving you my opinion)
is because:
1) the way we are taught/ what we are taught
<snip>
I think basics of musicality(or how to be musical and dance to the music) should be one of the basic things we have to be aware of when starting to learn salsa.

Whoever will say its not for the beginners is full of $@$% since most of my more musically connected dances happened with an intermediate dancers and were much more enjoyable then any of the other dances i had with a super exp. master dancers.
I wish it was that easy. Each person starts dancing Salsa at a different point. Some people hear the music or have some of it in their background. Some don't hear the time, or the instruments and it takes some ear training. That takes time, listening to music with a purpose, and some background.

Salsa is often learned for social purposes (meeting others), and they simply want to learn the steps. After doing that a while, they realize learning about the music is important, but that doesn't mean they want to hear that during their first six months.

The only problem and its a pretty big problem that there is no simple solution.

Just as you can rebuild a base structure of a house(if the foundation wasn't build right u cant fix it) u better of taking it down and building a new one.

So is with the salsa. We wont be able to patch it. :headwall:
The good news is there is thousands of "new houses" coming up in the world salsa every night. And one of these people is going to be the one who's going to change this dance for ever :notworth: I just hope i will have the privilege to work with him and dance to his side:rocker:
I respectfully disagree on that one. While I agree the musicality is critical for dance excellence, the order it's learned will vary by individual, and one size doesn't fit all. I agree it's easier to build a stronger dancer when they understand the music, but understand and dancing to the music is obtainable by the experienced dancer just like it's obtainable by the beginning/intermediate dancer.

Lots of people do both at once: They are working their dance skills AND working their musicality skills. They work together but just because you dance off time for a few years, doesn't mean you can't back-fill and become sensitive to the music. I'm not saying that is the best way, but it can be done.

Musicians are often not the best dancers, and if just knowing the music was the key, they would all be great dancers. Knowing the music is very important, but just knowing it still means an individual has plenty of practice to translate that head knowledge into quality dancing.

Musicians can generally become stronger dancers in less time than others, but only if they practice dancing like they practice their other instruments.
 

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