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Question and Answers thread

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Question and Answers thread

Post  AnandMajumdar on Sun Oct 12, 2008 2:09 pm

Dear Karin,

everytime i read your article it opens new windows for me.. you are a great writer and i would like to learn from your thoughts..

i was wondering if it is possible if members could post specific questions to you about dance and you could answer them in a question-answer thread..it would benefit us all greatly

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anand
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  Joy in Motion on Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:11 am

Sounds great, Anand! I welcome anyone to post any questions, requests, or any other miscellaneous thoughts here.
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  AnandMajumdar on Mon Oct 13, 2008 11:57 am

first question would be from me.. which would echo the thoughts of many others... what do u look like ? .. may we see a picture ? Smile
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  AnandMajumdar on Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:22 pm

dear karin,

many of my students have a HUGE problem following the music.. and especially since salsa music is not always necessarily "uniform" what advice do you have for them ?

anand
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  latina on Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:39 pm

Hi Joy in motion...
As anand has spoken about the music i would like to know that is it necessary that the lady needs to have equal knowledge about the music as the man?

Since its the guy who leads and the lady is the follower is it ok if the lady does not have that much knowledge about the music...?

Love and regards..
Latina..

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Question and Answers thread

Post  E.S.Mahesh on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:08 pm

latina wrote:Hi Joy in motion...
As anand has spoken about the music i would like to know that is it necessary that the lady needs to have equal knowledge about the music as the man?

Since its the guy who leads and the lady is the follower is it ok if the lady does not have that much knowledge about the music...?

Love and regards..
Latina..
well according to me it does not really matter, but if the lead can self lead min 50% then it wil really help...
so just do not always depend upon the guy to do all the work...
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  Joy in Motion on Wed Oct 22, 2008 9:31 am

I find it fitting that the first question relating to dance has to do with musicality. When I first started writing Joy in Motion, my very first article was on musicality. That article included four basic steps that can help beginning and even intermediate dancers to develop sensitivity and responsiveness to the music when they dance. That article is on the website; you all know where to find it I'm sure. Definitely check out the advice there for some more ideas after reading this post.

Here are some more thoughts: I think there are two parts to musicality. The first is having an ear for the music: knowing how to find the beat, understanding the instruments that are at play in the music and what their functions are, hearing the different styles (romantic, jazzy, etc.), etc. The second is being able to express your understanding of the music through your body. Not just your feet, but your hips, shoulders, hands, and your entire body.

The first part, the listening ear, grows from head knowledge (reading and studying) as well as active listening. When I first started learning salsa (and even now), I constantly played the music. And each time I would focus on something different. For example, one day I would focus on finding the clave. The second day I would listen for the timbales and how that instrument interacted with the others. Poncho Sanchez has an excellent (though basic) DVD on Latin rhythms that I recently reviewed, and I do recommend that if you are not already familiar with the basic instruments and how they sound.

The second part, the bodily expres​sion(a.k.a. dancing), develops through active practice. Active meaning that you do not just fall into a comfort zone but constantly push yourself to focus on the music when you dance. The living room, kitchen, even bathroom (my favorite is my car) are makeshift dance studios for practice. Play the music and find something interesting there (an accent, syncopation, the lilting of the singer's voice) and find a way to express it with your body. This is very individual. You can take classes and watch videos, but ultimately you need to allow your body to fall naturally into musical expression that feels good to you. Otherwise you are just doing choreography. Just get used to moving your body in different ways and get used to finding a bodily expression of the music, and eventually when you dance your body will start to create its own style of movement that is uniquely you. Easier said than done of course, but I'm sorry to say that there is no easy shortcut to true musicality.

In response to Latina's question about whether musicality is more important for leaders: absolutely not. This is a big misconception that many followers buy into. They go on auto pilot and focus so much on "following" well that they don't make their own contribution and express their own style within the dance. Any leader will tell you that he can't lead well if the follower can't follow on the beat, and he can't really be musical without his partner either. It takes two. A good dancer will not outshine his partner but will match his partner, so any limits on the follower's musicality places limits on the leader as well. It is a partner dance, so the musicality is an interplay, a conversation, a communication between two people.

P.S. A picture is coming soon! I am having difficulty loading pictures on my computer right now, but I'm working on it. Very Happy
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  sangeeta on Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:13 am

Hi Karin,
Firstly I wanted to thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. It is much appreciated Smile
Now with my question...what do you do when you get a partner who leads you off beat?? When faced with such a problem I'm always in a dilemma: whether I should keep following the lead and dance off beat...or I should dance on beat and end up leading myself?!
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  latina on Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:06 pm

Thank you Joy in Motion..
The information about music and musicality was very helpful... Smile

love and regards..
latina..

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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  Joy in Motion on Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:22 am

Sangeeta,

This is an interesting question. The overly simplistic and general answer would be that you have to follow your partner even if they are off the beat. By following the leader off the beat, you respect their lead and allow at least some kind of communication to happen. That is the stock answer. But of course it is never that simple…

I would say that your ability to follow the beat even when your partner does not depends largely on proximity. If my partner and I are dancing relatively close, our bodies have to move much more in sync for it to feel good to both of us and to allow communication. In this instance, it is imperative that you follow your partner’s rhythm, however inconsistent with the rhythm of the music. If you are farther away from your partner, connecting only with the hands instead of in a more traditional ballroom hold with his hand on your back, then you have a little more freedom to stay somewhat on the beat and perhaps improvise with your footwork while still following the leader’s general direction.

That being said, depending on how well you know the leader and how open and attentive he is to what you are doing, you may be able to help him get on beat. You may want to try moving to the beat for a few measures and allow him the opportunity to feel the disconnect between the two of you. At this point, he will do one of four things. He will either 1) not notice because he does not really understand what he is hearing, 2) will notice but will not care to try and adjust, 3) will notice and attempt to adjust but will not really understand how to feel the beat and move to it, or 4) will notice and make the adjustment. Many beginning leaders may appreciate being shown the proper rhythm in a subtle way. If they are not able to adjust properly, however, go ahead and drop back to his own rhythm for the remainder of the dance. Hopefully the leader will be encouraged to practice finding the beat more, but at least you have shown respect and patience and have attempted to communicate with your partner within the dance.

I hope this helps. Good luck!
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  sangeeta on Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:36 am

Hi Karin,

Thank you...yes, that helped Smile
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  samird on Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:58 am

sangeeta , ive an idea .. if he/she is off beat , whisper 1,2,3 5,6,7 in his ear . if he/she still doesnt improve ..shout it! and if not any better , follow Anands advice ...just stand still
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  AnandMajumdar on Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:15 am

karin,

thank you for your very informative post..

ok im gonna be the mouthpiece of many students here and shoot some questions to you. hope nobody minds.

there are three kinds of songs .. Smile,

1. simple beat pattern (eg yamulemau)
2. not-so-simple beat pattern (eg mori-tranzas / sin ti)
3. someone-help-me beat pattern (cant remember any off hand Smile)


1. simple beat pattern .. songs like this usually have a unifrom beat pattern of 123 567 123 567 right from the beginning to the end. easy to follow and keep in time. no problems.

2. not-so-simple beat pattern.. there are songs where sometimes the bars get reversed or switched..like it plays like 123 567 123 567 567 123 567 123 567.. eg mori-tranzas. what does one do here to compensate ?
another type is where the song has a "breakdown" wherein there is no percussion, sometimes only vocals, usually romantic or slower etc.. what does one do in such pieces ?

3. someone-help-me beat pattern.. too many syncopations, "instrument-heavy" sections where only one instrument is focussed on, to many sections for fast shines, breakdowns, bar reversal .. everything. You know the typical performance type track. its a nightmare for many ppl. how do they cope here ?


will really appreciate your answers

its early morning here and i should start my day now by contributing some articles and posts to the forum

love
anand
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  Joy in Motion on Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:19 am

samird wrote:sangeeta , ive an idea .. if he/she is off beat , whisper 1,2,3 5,6,7 in his ear . if he/she still doesnt improve ..shout it! and if not any better , follow Anands advice ...just stand still
Samird, that is the one thing that I would most definitely disagree with and advise against. Standing completely still or shouting because someone is not on the beat is very disrespectful and could be very humiliating to your partner. Please remember that everyone has to go through the learning process and that not everyone picks up the rhythm so easily. If someone is not on the beat, it usually is not because they don’t care about the music or that they are not trying; it is usually because they are still learning how to find the beat and to move in time to the music. Learning to dance can be daunting for many people, and many men and women are afraid to get up and try because they fear the type of response that you have just described. Everyone deserves patience on the dance floor. Nobody is perfect, and imagine if every partner of ours were to stop and stand still if we didn’t lead or follow a move as well as they would like or if they didn’t like the way we improvised or moved our body to the music. It is important to remember that dancing is not about our partner meeting our expectations so that we can show off or feel like a good dancer. It is about communication, about giving as well as receiving. If you are more interested in showing off and only dancing with partners who are up to your standards, you should probably refrain from dancing with beginners and leave that to people who are patient and will make it an enjoyable experience for that person at the level they are at. You will most likely not be able to get that person to find and move to the beat right away, so the best you can do is as I described in my last post. This is a respectful way of helping them out if possible and, if not, just enjoying them and trying to communicate with them at the level they are at. I feel very strongly about this, and I hope that intermediate and advanced dancers who have the rhythm and the basics down will take this to heart. As an instructor, I encounter beginners all the time who fear negative responses if they are not able to “get” the music and the moves right away. A little faith in their ability to learn and develop at their own pace goes such a long way, and it is so rewarding to be there when they start to “get” it and to know that you were able to encourage them in a positive way.
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  baby on Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:25 am

Hi Joy,
hope u doing gr8, I guess this is my first post on ur section.

always thought to ask u, but then ur v.senior to me in ur dancing skills, so always stayed a way, as I didnt want to sound silly infront of u, but then now I really wanted to know that:-

I have recently understood the weight transfer techinque, or first it was just stepping, so in the weight transfer only a slight hip movement is obsereved ..ok if u aware of the bollywood salsa wherein u move ur hip in a curvy way or u can call it in the 8 style.
so in pure salsa do we really need to have that curvy moves or only the weight transfer hip movement is reall.

I hope m not sounding funny, but its in general I want to know, ya if its a presentation or show it all depend on the choreography, but in general how the hip movement have to be.

kai

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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  AnandMajumdar on Fri Oct 24, 2008 2:19 am

samird wrote:sangeeta , ive an idea .. if he/she is off beat , whisper 1,2,3 5,6,7 in his ear . if he/she still doesnt improve ..shout it! and if not any better , follow Anands advice ...just stand still

pls allow me to clarify this samird and everyone else. NO, i would never profess that in a club , one must stand still or be disrespectful or ridicule and joyinmotion has very correctly pointed out..

and i do not talk of standing still in relation to the music. i only talk of not self-leading or responding to a bad lead, that too ONLY in the classroom. i keep telling the ladies that sometimes because we are learning a combination, and we know what is coming next, they tend to lead themselves into the move, even when there is little, bad or no lead. this would be a wrong indicator to a bad leader cause he would not know what he is doing wrong unless, the lady holds back and waits for the right lead.

ladies preempt all the time and that is very detrimental to the progress of men because they dont understand if they are leading right or not.

i would never asks the ladies to stand still in a club. only in a classroom i would ask the lady to hold herself back a bit, give the right amount of resistance, and wait for the lead, so that they can respond right when the lead comes and the men start realising that unless they are giving the right lead , the lady is going nowhere..

its late in the night here and im unwell. i hope i have been able to explain this well

anand
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  Joy in Motion on Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:17 am

Anand,

You are 100% correct, and thank you clarifying your comments. I was curious myself as to what comments of yours he may have been referring to...

I completely agree with you that it is detrimental to a leader's learning for a follower to do a move without being led correctly (again, in a class setting). This is the most helpful thing a follower can do to help the leader refine his lead and truly learn to become a strong (a.k.a. clear) leader. This can be difficult for a follower to do when they already know which move is coming, but if the follower can try to clear their mind of any expectations regarding what move is coming next, they can respond appropriately and allow the leader to adjust as necessary. So great point, Anand!
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  samird on Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:42 am

hey Anand and Joy ... I was (obviously) kidding when I said 'stand still' , bcos I find it quite funny when Anand says so in class (obviously I know what he means by it) .
But I do believe that if partners are off track , chanting 1,2,3 5,6,7 gets some co-ordination back to the dance .. and I didnt mean shout AT the partner , shout as in , if the music is too loud and they cant hear you.
And finally , we are all here to have fun , on the forum and also on the dance floor , so the question of being disrespectful and inconsiderate doeosnt arise ... Cheers Smile
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  Joy in Motion on Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:51 pm

Samird - I'm glad you were joking. But I'm sad to say that there are people out there who will do such things and think it's okay. I have seen some beginners get badgered on the dance floor by overbearing and impatient people. So although I trust that the majority of dancers are respectful, there are always exceptions. I wish that what I wrote in my last post didn't need to be written, but unfortunately I think that it needs to be said for those few people.

Thank you for the clarification. And I'm enjoying the dialogue with everyone very much. More soon... Very Happy
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Hip Action

Post  Joy in Motion on Sat Oct 25, 2008 2:15 am

kainath wrote:Hi Joy,
hope u doing gr8, I guess this is my first post on ur section.

always thought to ask u, but then ur v.senior to me in ur dancing skills, so always stayed a way, as I didnt want to sound silly infront of u, but then now I really wanted to know that:-

I have recently understood the weight transfer techinque, or first it was just stepping, so in the weight transfer only a slight hip movement is obsereved ..ok if u aware of the bollywood salsa wherein u move ur hip in a curvy way or u can call it in the 8 style.
so in pure salsa do we really need to have that curvy moves or only the weight transfer hip movement is reall.

I hope m not sounding funny, but its in general I want to know, ya if its a presentation or show it all depend on the choreography, but in general how the hip movement have to be.

kai
Kai,

There are no silly or stupid questions. And actually, your question is a very common one and a very interesting one. I suppose there really is no correct answer, because we are talking about a social dance and not a competitive one in which there are set standards. It is largely a matter of personal preference and choice. I have found that it depends on the culture of the dance community. Some focus more on moves and shines, while others may emphasize connection and quality of movement. Most would agree that all are important.

But let me offer my own personal perspective. I believe that the hip action that results from proper weight transfer is an important aspect of salsa. If you watch Latinos who grew up dancing salsa, merengue, bachata, etc., they have a very nice rolling hip action because of the way they transfer their weight. I find that when I dance, I get many compliments from Latinos and they think I dance very much like them because I use the placement of my feet and my weight transfer to create a natural and sensual hip motion which adds greatly to the attractiveness and smoothness of my dancing. I personally believe – and I have found many Latinos believe – that without this action there is something missing from your dancing. Doing a bunch of turns and shines can’t replace good quality of movement, and hip action is a big part of that.

However, it is not quite that simple because the degree of hip action (smaller versus more pronounced) depends largely on the music you are dancing to. There is a big difference between dancing to more rhythmic and syncopated music versus dancing to smoother, romantic salsa. I find that I emphasize a rolling hip action more during the latter types of music, while I will do more footwork during the former. Syncopations with your feet prevent you from achieving that rolling hip action because you may, for example, be tapping your foot on the ground instead of rolling through the ball of the foot. Although this footwork sacrifices hip movement, it brings you more in line with the music.

The speed of the music also determines the degree of hip action you can achieve. The slower the music is, the more I focus on rolling through the balls of my feet and bending and straightening my legs during weight transfer. However, for faster songs you really don’t have time to do this, so you are less able to move your hips. Competitive salsa, for example, is usually much too fast to get a nice full rolling hip action. It focuses more on speed and tricky turns and combinations versus a deeper movement of the hips.

However, if you are interested in creating a deeper hip action, you are correct to identify the transfer of weight as the point at which this happens. Many beginners have the misconception that the hip action they see comes from trying to move the hips. Trying to shake the hips is a superficial movement. True hip action comes from a combination of several “techniques”: rolling through the balls (inside edges) of the feet, keeping the knees relaxed, pushing into the floor and then away from the floor to bend and straighten the knees, and keeping the upper body relatively still to allow the hips to swing like a pendulum underneath. Good hip movement comes from being grounded and using the floor.

Although there is a specific “technique” for achieving this hip action, it is not to be confused with ballroom technique, referred to as Cuban motion. While they are similar in many aspects, social dancing calls for a much more relaxed and natural hip movement than ballroom dancing does. I am not familiar with the Bollywood style or technique, so I can’t comment on it directly, although I welcome you to educate me on it (video clips, for example, are always helpful to study and compare). The figure eight you are talking about does sound more like ballroom technique though, and this is not present in social Latin dance (at least not in the way Latino communities typically dance).

At the end of the day, it is a matter of personal preference when it comes to hip action. But I personally find that the emphasis I place on hip action sets me apart as a dancer because so many others are more focused on the moves and fancy footwork. There is nothing wrong with those things, but hip action that comes from good technique makes you feel more grounded and smoother to your partner than just walking through the steps. I also find that it is closer to the Latino aesthetic, which reflects the true roots of the dance.

I hope this helps or at least serves as a starting point for more reflection and discussion. Enjoy!
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  Chindu on Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:03 am

If I may jump in... without 'Latin hips' salsa is not quite salsa. Agree with Karin -- though I would carry it one step ahead and say that this applies for men also. I know there are many instructors who don't believe in this quite, not for men, I mean -- but personally I would argue for a more controlled and 'manly' hip action (NOT wiggling, mind) for the men as well.

Karin, again agree the proper cuban motion will be a waste on social salsa floors (and by god, you won't last more than four dances), but perhaps a diluted version will sit well?

Kai, one tip, if I may: you might possibly be doing it already, but in case you aren't, don't forget to get your heel down when you step back. That will give you better hip action. (And keep the step fairly small -- unless it is very slow music)...

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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  Joy in Motion on Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:21 am

Chindu wrote:If I may jump in... without 'Latin hips' salsa is not quite salsa. Agree with Karin -- though I would carry it one step ahead and say that this applies for men also. I know there are many instructors who don't believe in this quite, not for men, I mean -- but personally I would argue for a more controlled and 'manly' hip action (NOT wiggling, mind) for the men as well.

Karin, again agree the proper cuban motion will be a waste on social salsa floors (and by god, you won't last more than four dances), but perhaps a diluted version will sit well?

Kai, one tip, if I may: you might possibly be doing it already, but in case you aren't, don't forget to get your heel down when you step back. That will give you better hip action. (And keep the step fairly small -- unless it is very slow music)...
Chindu, I absolutely agree with you, and thank you for adding those thoughts! While I don't think that men will necessarily emphasize the hip action as much as women do (they tend to focus on footwork a bit more), they also will have some natural hip action if they transfer weight properly and use their feet correctly. And yes, I can't believe I forgot to mention that taking large steps will kill your hip action (and this is always a big issue with beginners). So yes, smaller steps, but you may take slightly bigger steps for very slow music. Great addition, Chindu! Very Happy
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Re: Question and Answers thread

Post  Chindu on Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:08 am

Joy in Motion wrote:While I don't think that men will necessarily emphasize the hip action as much as women do (they tend to focus on footwork a bit more), they also will have some natural hip action if they transfer weight properly and use their feet correctly. And yes, I can't believe I forgot to mention that taking large steps will kill your hip action (and this is always a big issue with beginners). So yes, smaller steps, but you may take slightly bigger steps for very slow music. Great addition, Chindu! Very Happy

Very Happy Thanks, Karin. About men's hips, I have a curious bone in me, so I do watch a lot, particularly good men. Most often I find them cheating on not only hips but footwork as well. Particulary the crossbody guys (Cubans, by and large, dance their heart out)... Ah well!

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