At what point are dancers more equal

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by smiling28, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator


    People are always comparing dancers (for better or for worse) but it seems an accepted rule of thumb that the longer you have danced the better you will be.

    But I wonder is there a point where that is not true. I.e a certain general time say 3 years where there is not as much difference between someone dancing 3 years and 5 years.

    Eg. the most NOTICEABLE improvement in a dancer is from beginner in the first year I imagine (from 0 to maybe 7 of their potential) but the remaining 3 points of potential will take a lifetime.

    So i.e how is it possible that you can ever 'overtake' the more experienced dancers if they keep practicing also? At which point does individual skill/talent really come into play versus experience?

    (obviously experience is always great/best but there has to be hope for dancers being the best apart from just simply outdancing everyone in terms of years danced????)
  2. MacMoto

    MacMoto Administrator Staff Member

    Well I'm not sure if this is always true. There are many aspects that influence your development as a dancer, e.g.,

    - Previous dance background
    - Other previous training (e.g., marshall arts, music) that may help your balance, coordination, musicality, etc.
    - Physical/athletic ability/talent
    - Quality of tuition you receive
    - Amount of dancing/practice you do outside classes
    - Overall level of your scene

    So someone who's been dancing a year who's done some ballet as a child, taken regular privates with good teachers since starting salsa and danced in NY every night would probably be a much better dancer than someone (like me) with no previous dance background, taking group classes now and again and dancing 2 nights a week in a small scene after a few years.

    And then there's the question of "how do you judge someone's better than another"?

    Magna started dancing salsa as an adult, and I think she's been dancing for less than 10 years. Luda (of Oliver & Luda fame) started dancing as a child and has over 15 years' experience. Is Luda a better dancer than Magna? Maybe - but I like Magna's dancing a lot more than Luda's. They are very different dancers, and in my view, both very good. Does it really matter which one's better?
  3. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    great point,

    But I am not comparing to say who is better but just saying on the same level.

    Eg. You cannot compare someone who has danced 1 year with someone who has danced 5 years no matter how good the 1 year dancer is 'naturally' as certain things just take time to be absorbed.

    So my question is more when can two dancers with different training experiences be mentioned in the same conversation eg. Luda (15 yrs) and Magna (10 yrs) as you say.

  4. MacMoto

    MacMoto Administrator Staff Member

    That I'm not sure... I've been surprised by some people who are amazingly good but say they've only been dancing a year - and I've met people who have been dancing for many years but no where near as good as them. So I'm beginning to think "how long you've been dancing" is only a small aspect of how good you are.
  5. theamoebaman

    theamoebaman Son Montuno

    You have to remember as well the it's not just practice that make perfect but perfect practice that makes perfect. If someone has been dancing for 1 year but has regularly attended classes, privates and actively practices what they learn and continue to learn and practice they will more often than not be much better that the person who only goes to 1 pre-club class a week and that's the only time they go out and practice.

    And Mac's post makes sense as well:

    - Previous dance background
    - Other previous training (e.g., martial arts, music) that may help your balance, coordination, musicality, etc.
    - Physical/athletic ability/talent
    - Quality of tuition you receive - obviously someone who trains with Frankie Martinez will improve at a much higher rate than some one who trains with Frank from down the road (unless you live up the road from Frankie Martinez. :) He He)

    - Amount of dancing/practice you do outside classes - after all a person who trains everyday will improve much mroe than some one who comes to class once a month.

    - Overall level of your scene - after all if you're scene is not that advanced or big it's unlikely you'll get the same level of training as someone who trains in New York with Eddie Torres (my lifelong dream, ha ha ha)

    I also agree with Mac in that there are some people I have seen that have only been training for a relatively short time but are amazingly good. While how long someone has been dancing is usually a good indicator of their level of dancing it isn't a hard and fast rule
  6. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Not remotely true. Increasing ones skills and capabilities is often dis-proportionate to time spent "on" the floor.

    Each and everyone has a " level " at which they will peak, and it usually is not reached by the majority of dancers ( including Pro,s ) .

    The reasons are multi fold. There is a certain " desire " level that the majority of social dancers achieve , and this becomes quite evident by their lack of continuing education.

    All the " great " dancers of any genre, spend countless hrs perfecting and learning and honing their skills and the majority of the general public do not place this in a high priority.

    Taking the odd class and dancing twice a week, is the routine that most dancers begin with ( and thats OK ), and eventually, the class falls by the wayside.That is not the formula for the dancer you seem to admire and or wish to become.

    Its fair to note, this regime is sufficient for 98% of students.. but thats true of most else in life. The " comfort " and achievement level is different for each of us, and when we are satisfied, that intensity that was there when we began , dissipates. .......Thats the norm.

    So, if you want to excel, then consistent training with quality instruction and regular ( more than once ) weekly practical application will give you results.. time will tell, and its usually a long haul.
  7. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    This is key for me, even when recast as Smiling28 does, as "how can you tell when dancers are the same level". There are so many dimensions; which do you measure? You can arrange contests to objectively measure individual skills like


    you can form a social consensus on things like

    how up-to-date their lead/follow technique is;

    and you can form subjective opinions on how important each of these aspects are, and wether the dancer embodies something you value, whether they inspire you. Also there might be elements like whether their dancing makes cultural references, or references to their dancing school which an observer may not even notice, or may count for or against the dancer.

    It's like Top Trumps, there's a whole range of aspects to a dancer, and they'll be stronger in some and weaker in others. Some aspects are measureable, others are subjective, and still others are only visible to the "cultivated" eye.

    The short version: I think you can compare dancers, but you've got to know what you're comparing.
  8. kkksss

    kkksss Son Montuno

    Why we have to be getting better and better? Can we stop trying to get better? Just go out there, get on the floor and enjoy it, as long as you can make it enjoyable for you and your partner. I am lazy, I go to a salsa night club once every week, but I never take any classes or practice, have to admit that my progress is slow, but still, I have had a lot of fun since I started doing salsa about a year ago. It's interesting to see that salsa as a social entertainment form, is quite different from many others. For example, a lot of people, play soccer, basketball, or tennis, but the percentage of amateur players getting private tutors or going to schools is very low comparing with that in the salsa circle. Is salsa so technically difficult that we have to go to school to get better to be happy? And, why can't we just be content to be an average player? (I am not talking about those people who wants to take this as a profession)
  9. Melvin

    Melvin Tumbao

    As OP wrote, "People are always comparing dancers", the process of improvement is fun and interesting in itself.

    Sure, most, allmost all of us do, after perhaps two to five years. But those posting on a forum like this probably are more comitted to self improvement than most.

    You don't try to improve to enjoy yourself, you do it to make your partner enjoy it more. (Which in itself is the greatest pleasure)

    To please your partner the next time, perhaps you'll have to show her something new? Will she be as content with your level as you might be? She is probably comparing you to someone else


    We can, if we disregard what our potential partners might be interested in.
  10. kkksss

    kkksss Son Montuno

    Melvin, I have to disagree. Actually I am a good dancer, and often, people come over and tell me that I dance very well. But, I don't think that you have to get better each day in order to have fun (I am not saying that you don't need to learn some basics). Give you a possibly inappropriate example, just like sex, do you have to be so great in bed in order to have fun and for your partner to have fun? But there are a lot of things beyond the things in bed to make it fun, same thing for salsa, such as the connection between you and your partner, how do you make your partner feel that connection, and how to deliver it in your moves, I don't think you need to be so technically advanced in order to that, on the other hand, you probably cannot learn that in school anyway. Sure, people on this forum may have a different attitude toward salsa, and that's probably why they are here.
  11. azzey

    azzey El Sabroso de Conguero

    Excellent points by everyone so far!

    As others have said, define 'best' dancer? Best social dancer? Best competition dancer? Best dancer in a particular style (but not very flexible otherwise)? Looks the Best dancer when dancing with his regular partner? Feels the best (leader) dancer? (not many people think about that, compromising the look to make your dancing feel better to your partner) Best musical dancer? Best looking dancer (a combination of good basics, body movement/flexibility and styling).

    OK, so yes it takes a certain time (at least a year) to get a good grounding no matter how 'naturally' talented (usually because of previous dance or body movement experience) you are. There is a certain amount of training you have to do to embed the knowledge into muscle memory.

    ** Over-generalisation alert **

    If your teachers are not good or you are not good at learning and applying what you've been taught (note: it's usually the teachers fault but there are student exceptions) it will take longer to learn the basics well, if ever. I have met dancers who have been dancing many years and cannot even do the basics or lead or follow well. Some people realise, others are unaware and think they dance well. Therefore they have nothing to learn or practice.

    If you all have access to good teaching and practice the same amount (note nothing mentioned here about time, only amount of practice) there will come a point where you have similar skills (not necessarily knowledge) to other averagely good dancers in your scene. You will not look or dance exactly the same even if you learn the same skills (you have different bodies). Although you will probably all have some bad habits. Hopefully you won't all have the same bad habits (you can always tell which dancers have learned at a particular school).

    This is probably where most people either stop learning or keep learning and practicing the same stuff. The majority of dancers in a scene are either slightly below or slightly above this point. Over time with lots of practice their basics will probably improve but other elements may be missing that could make them a much better dancer.

    Most local classes that I've been to (outside of afro-cuban workshops/congresses) don't teach Rumba, musicality or connection. So there are (as you know) outside sources of dance education you can pursue to influence your dancing and improve in a multitude of ways.

    The few best dancers in your scene have probably gone that extra mile but have they gone to their limit? I doubt it. Without a challenge it's very easy for a dancer to stagnate. Also to improve means changing and that takes a lot of effort to tweak long-time habits. Without a better reference point (dancer model) to inspire them and the drive to take them there it's natural for most people to put in less effort than they did when they started.

    So ironically even though they have less distance to go it may seem harder to improve.

    Someone with an unlimited amount of learning capacity (ability to listen), the right education, training and dedication eventually might surpass even the best local dancer and set their sights on higher goals.

    ** Over-generalisation alert over **

    From what I've seen though of most dancers outside of the top-scenes (NY, LA, London etc) even the best dancers in other scenes have bad basics or lack something in their technique, musicality, connection etc. So it's often not as much work as you think to become better than them in some way.

    Most salsa pro's are not great at every aspect of the dance, although it looks that way before you know what to look for ; I've seen some shockingly bad footwork from some of the NY pro's and not everyone spins as well as Francisco Vasquez, Jazzy or Magna but is it really necessary?
  12. Melvin

    Melvin Tumbao

    I frequently get told the same thing by bad male dancers who seems to be impressed. To me it means nothing, I know my moves tend to look better to the untrained eye than they feel to my partner. I also know lot's of guys who look quite awful, but they apparently feel good, you see it from the look of their partners.

    That's not what I intented to say, my focus was on my partner having fun (= me having fun), and being able to give a good time to a wider spectrum of partners.

    Those I can consistently make happy today are not very good at all, not good enough to make me truly happy anyway. I'm there to have fun together with someone, otherwise the equation doesn't work out at all for me.

    If it does for you, fine. Probably you are simply a far better dancer.

    No, you don't. Even bad performance in this area is usually good enough with the right attitude. Being adequate in bed is rarely influenced much by training, we are out of evolutional necessity all born with at least some degree of bedtime skills. Not so in dancing, it's a big difference.

    I would guess you are far more technically advanced than you give yourself credit for. If you are as good as you say you are you probably have other related learning experiences to benefit from in your dancing.

    And I'm sure you learn this thing with connection in school, or at the social dance floor, it's mainly a matter of experience, trial and error or analysis. When you have the necessary confidence in what you are doing technically, connection can follow.
  13. Jag75

    Jag75 Shine Officer

    I'm finding that as I get better and better I'm actually enjoying dancing more. In fact these days when I dance I feel like I'm living in euphoria especially when dancing with a good follow because everything is so smooth and the musical expression in the dance is at a new level where it just feels incredibly - I cannot explain it - I just know I love it!

    The dancing enjoyment level increases because:

    1) You're thinking less about what moves to execute and how to execute them
    2) You can place more resources towards listening and interpreting the music
    3) The dance between a really good lead and follow who speak the same language is potentially awesome - recently I've been having incredible dances
    4) As your body movement and isolation techniques improve, the ability to express the music is also improved, hence further enjoying the music and dance

    To me that's the reason I want to forever improve - and I will not set any personal limits. The women I dance with certainly appreciate it :)
  14. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    Great post and point.

    Reasons to improve will vary of course and I do see your point which I believe is 'be comfortable in yourself as the focus and not thinking that you need dance lessons to achieve this. I.e Dance midlife crisis, no sports car but new moves/style ha ha.

    I think the distinction with other sport/hobbies is that when you dance I feel you are putting yourself out there whether externally (to observers) or internally (to yourself in how you feel).

    You are naked when you dance (to a degree). A dance moment is a photograph. Imagine how much effort people put into making themselves look/appear/feel good when around others and perhaps this is why people are so bent on professional help as at a grassroots level, you are representing yourself through your dancing.

    Now your answer is so perfect for this thread. Completely unexpected but so paramount and I LOVE the bedroom analogy. Why, many people (like me) sometimes are insecure about things eg. Why would she want to dance with me when she has all these other better leads) . And this ties in with what everyone else is saying, you cannot compare apples and oranges but both are wonderful in their own ways.

    So thank you everyone, really enlightening answers considering I sort of hoped/expected a (4 yrs to be advanced) type answer ha ha.

    Thanks team!!!!!!!!!

  15. kkksss

    kkksss Son Montuno

    Cheers, Smiling :) Anyway, all I want to say is, take it easy folks,just don't put so much a burden on yourself. If you get a chance to learn, then go ahead and learn it, it never hurts to learn something, actually, even though I don't go to classes, very often I watch people dance with a learning attitude, but it's not like the end of world if you don't go to classes or get private tutors.

Share This Page