Ah, New Year's, my second favorite holiday! With all the warmth in your heart leftover from Christmas, and the promise of unlimited possibilities in your future, it's the perfect time to make... Resolutions!!
I resolve to keep my blog short.
Gotcha! I don't mean that short. Baby steps;)
I resolve to learn how to post the salsa combinations (or links) on my website myself - without needing my husband's help. On this note, we'll get the link up tomorrow...when he's awake. I confessed my lack of technological savvy week one - don't be mad.
I resolve to keep learning, in every facet of life, but definitely where my dancing and teaching are concerned.
I resolve to be the most gracious dance partner and follow I can possibly be. We are all learning and life is too short to nitpick on the dance floor...not that I would ever do that;)
Finally, I resolve to keep FUN in the forefront of my dancing (and maybe life:). When it's your job, it's easy to get caught up in the details. I dance because I love it! I teach because I love it! If either of those change - so will I.
Happy resolution making (and keeping) and Happiest New Year!! See you on the hardwood;)
...and/or Happy Holidays for those of you who don't celebrate Christmas. I hope everyone has a safe and fabulous holiday season filled with joy instead of stress. What a thought...
Today's blog, though completely applicable to dancing, is more about life. We've gotten so twisted around (as a society) as to what we value. Let me hopefully not be the first to say: it's down right depressing!
Instead of being the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas has become a huge stress for lots of people. And, why? Because we have so many things to buy, Buy, BUY! So many gifts to give and parties to throw and people to impress. Guess what: if they're not impressed with you by now, no Christmas gift is going to change that. And who cares?! Focus on the people who love you no matter the price tag.
With this time (and every holiday from now on) take a deep breath, slow down, and really think about what's truly important. Same in partner dancing: take a breath (it's amazing how many people actually hold their breath while dancing...dangerous!), slow down, and realize that what's important is the two of you having fun in that moment (and not hurting anyone on the dance floor:).
As for me, I'm looking forward to sledding with my family tomorrow. Making homemade chocolates. Eating said homemade goodies. And finally, dancing off some holiday calories! See you on the hardwood:)
I am a lucky woman! I have two wonderful kids, a job I love, and a fantastic husband to share it all with. Last night, he joined me in teaching the advanced salsa class at the Avalon. It was our first dance date in a looong time. We met on the dance floor. Years ago, he walked into the studio where I worked and wanted to learn to salsa. Five years later, here we are.
Everyone who has taken a class from me knows I advocate good technique. Contrary to popular belief, I don't do this to torture you. Part of my job is to make the dance easier for you. And moving your body efficiently does just that. So, I talk a lot about how and what to move, when.
My husband, gotta love him, last night confessed to me that he found he was leaning backwards during one part of the combo. It's an easy mistake to make with this particular move. We pointed the "danger" out to the class, and proceeded to dance. The next time, he kept his shoulders on top of his feet, and surprised himself. "It's easier that way." I almost fell over myself laughing.
So, I get it: technique can be difficult. But keep fighting the good fight! Be aware of where your body is in space and over your feet. Use your feet into the floor - they're your best friend on the dance floor. Engage your center to keep your body moving as one unit. And eventually, it will come together and all dancing will be easier:) See you on the hardwood;)
Tonight's post is about energy (I know, you thought I was going to sing. Tricked ya'.). What are you communicating to your partner? Technically, energy is the guy's to set and the lady's to follow, but that's the last (and most difficult) hurdle in leading so I'm going to speak in terms everyone can use.
All too often, we let the muck of our day ooze into our dancing. We're missing half the beauty of dancing right there! When you're on the dance floor - all your problems go away! Why do you think I dance as often as possible;) It's like being on a motorcycle...ah, I can almost feel the wind calling.
When we let any outside obstacles effect our dancing, it's like having a face to face conversation and taking a phone call at the same time. Obnoxious, right? So, next time you agree to a dance, let everything else go but what you and your partner are creating in that moment.
And what are you creating? Are you showing people you're excited to dance with each other? Or are you just biding your time 'til the person you really want to dance with is free? Using the conversation analogy again - no one likes talking to that dude or chic. We know when your mind is elsewhere. And is it really so much to ask for your full attention for 3.5 minutes?
But let's say your focus on each other is already a tractor beam - good! Now let's make sure the energy is just right. I danced with a female version of the energizer bunny tonight - and while adorable - she was a touch overzealous. So I told her to wait for me (the lead) and work on connecting to me, instead of trying to do the steps right. And she was wonderful! What we then created was honest and spontaneous. Who doesn't love that conversation? Entire romantic comedies are based on achieving just one of those:)
The moral is: with each dance and each partner, you want to find the right energy. Maybe you're jazzed up - maybe you're chillin'. It depends on your partner. No two partners will feel the same. Nor will any two dances. And thank goodness! Who wants to go around having the same conversation all the time? Everyone really is unique (our parents weren't lying to us;).
It's our job to find the fun that fits us as a dance duo. We're not here to outshine or diminish each other. We're dancing to bring the best out in both of us. See you on the hardwood!
Hello All! And a happy Friday to you. I know this isn't a regularly scheduled post, but I am so excited to share my first "guest post" with you I simply cannot wait until next week. It's salsa dancer Erik Brack's take on what the new Salsero needs to hear and is a splendid addition to what I wrote yesterday. Ironically enough, we make some of the same points...hmmmm...:) Without further ado:
Tips of the Beginning Salsero
Congratulations, mi hombres, you’re about to embark on a journey of tremendous self discovery if you’ve decided to learn Salsa. I’m not long into the process myself; I’ve only been at it a little over a year. Since I haven’t been at it long, it’s easy for me to look back on where I started, and pass on some things that will help you in your development. I wish someone had told me these things.
Buy Some Shoes
I know, that since this is Boulder, that you're very proud of your GPS enabled, multiple USB port, Vibram soled hiking boots. They're nice, but they're not optimal for dancing. You need shoes you can glide in, not shoes that grab the floor and hold you in one spot. Remember, you need to be able to move your feet easily: you need something with smooth bottoms. My first pair of dancing shoes were some old Oxfords I bought in a thrift store for $3.00. I later bought some actual, made for dancing shoes with suede bottoms, on Ebay. Dancing in the right shoes makes a huge difference. If you see guys hopping up and down like they're clog dancing, check out their footwear. And those guys you see who dance in their bare feet? They could walk across Boulder on hot coals. Save that for when you learn to dance.
Be a Slave to the Rhythm
Sometimes I watch the new dancers and bemusedly wonder what music they're listening to as they blithely cavort in a manner that would seem to presage some sort of major medical event. I always think, “What are they listening to?” To be a Salsero, to be a leader, you need to be able to keep the beat: it is a primary responsibility. One of my Salsa senseis, Allison, said that leaders are responsible for Timing, Energy and Direction. If you don't get the rhythm, you can't get the timing. To get the rhythm, you need to listen.
Listen to the Music
As much as learning steps is a part of the process, you need to listen to Salsa to be able dance to it. You don't need to know Spanish. You need to make Salsa cds to listen to in your car, or put music on your Ipod, your smart phone, listen while you're working on your computer, while you're working out. Listen to the Tropicales channel on Comcast. You can make great playlists on Spotify.com, Playlist.com or Rhapsody.com, or you can let Pandora.com select the songs for you. You will hopefully find songs and artists you like listening to, and develop your own Salsa library. If you don't know where to start, ask somebody, everyone has their favorites.
Master the Basic Steps
It's pretty common to see new Salseros doing one of these variations of the basic step: the Bob, where it looks like they've volunteered to be the subject in a Whack a Mole game, or the Lunge, where they look like they're fencing. Whatever basic step you're doing, you don't bob, and you don't lunge. Keep level with and take small steps. You'll understand the importance later.
Salsa is simpler than it looks, but like anything else you'll get better if you practice a lot. You'll discover that besides learning the steps, it's all about muscle memory and repetition. So dance as much as you can: there’s someplace in the Metro area you can dance seven nights a week. Take as many lessons as you can. Go to seminars. If you can't do those things, just practice at home. Dance with lots of partners when you can, you'll learn faster. Watch good dancers, in fact, watch all dancers. You'll learn what’s good and what's not.
Be a Gentleman
Follow basic hygiene rules. Ask ladies to dance nicely; don't just get up in their faces. Appreciate your partner, pay attention. And most of all, watch your behavior. Salsa is a very sensual dance, but remember that a dance is also a social contract. Do not take liberties. Watch your hands; be aware of your crotch. I've had women friends tell me that they love to dance, but dealing with ill-behaved men has diminished their enjoyment. Don't be that guy. Your goal is to be the Salsero women want to dance with, not the one they want to avoid.
Don’t Give Up
You’ll get better; it just takes time and dedication. If you stay humble and open, you’ll learn something every time you dance.
Alright guys, it's your turn this week. I'm going over some basic rules of the dance floor for the new, the old, and the ugly... don't be offended - I'm doing it out of love (and a personal request from one of you).
First and most important rule of the social dance floor: Protect your partner! I could write an entire blog about this very subject (and maybe I will someday) but I'm trying to make these shorter so, "Let me sum up". Don't dance her into anyone. Don't throw her around and hurt her shoulders (they're fragile joints). Never, never, never try tricks with a new partner without warning them. In general, tricks are for choreography, not the social scene. Take small steps. Always bag the move for the woman's safety and comfort - (she's more apt to dance with you again that way anyway;).
Rule #2: Have fun. Notice the order - it's not a mistake. Some people are so busy having fun they don't realize they're terrorizing the other dancers. But if the woman feels cared for, she can relax and actually have fun. Think of a dance like a marriage - "Happy wife, happy life". If the woman can trust you, she will come alive in your arms - if she does this - meet her in wonderland.
#3: It's only dancing! Guys, we love ya', but we also love dancing... for dancin' sake. If we get flirty, it's because you're doing something right. Don't ruin it by gettin' sleezy or hitting on us! And yes, we know the difference.
#4: Pay attention. Both in class and during our dance. There are few things worse than a guy who doesn't listen to the teacher then subsequently throws us around because he doesn't know how to lead the move. Even worse, a guy who's scoping out the room for his next partner while dancing with us...come on!
#5: Don't look at the floor. You don't have to stare into our eyes, but check in occasionally and smile. Look at our nose, our ear, our chin - or better yet: a combination of all three. I get this question a lot, so play with options that feel good to you (and that don't involve imitating an ostrich).
#6: Ask us to dance. We're secretly dying to be asked. Personally, I won't wait that long before I ask someone myself - but a lot of women won't ask for fear of rejection. Let's talk about that. If a woman says no, it doesn't necessarily mean she doesn't like dancing with you. She may legitimately need to use the bathroom. If she says no three times in one night, you may want to ask another lady. Rejection is part of life, sadly. Try not to take it personally! I can almost gaurantee none of you has heard the word "No" as many times as I have and I'm still kickin'! For my ladies reading this, you can always ask a guy, too. Don't waste a night holding up the wall.
And last, but definitely not least, Move your body. It's called "dancing" for a reason - you're supposed to move - preferably to the rhythm, but we understand that can be hard to find. The woman follows what you do with your body, so don't stand still and just move your hands. Everything should come from your center. Think that over, then call me for a lesson if you need to.
Your job is demanding. We realize that and appreciate you having the balls (yes I said it) to try it. Now that we all know what's expected of us on the dance floor (ladies read my previous post) - let's tear it up! See you on the hardwood.
Allison loves to write almost as much as she loves to dance, so no one had to twist her arm to get her to write about dancing!