Hip Action

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by dantoddd, Oct 23, 2016.

  1. dantoddd

    dantoddd Changui


    I've been learning salsa for about 3 months now. I've finished an introductory class in salsa and the instructor told me to repeat the introductory class but also take an advanced beginner class simultaneously.

    earlier i had a lot of problems grasping the salsa timing. but with the help of a few suggestions from advanced students and spending a lot of time listening to salsa music and various instruments in salsa, I have achieved a much better graph of the salsa timing.

    today in class our instructor made us do the basic step and showed us what we are doing wrong and what needs to be fixed. As with most of the new students, I apparently don't really have the right hip action. He stressed that when you do salsa, your hips must move forward with each step you do and your weight should be more towards the ball of your feet and you must try step with the balls of your feet.

    My real challenge is getting the hips to move forward with each step. It especially become and issue when i step back. the instructor gave me a small hip movement exercise to do at home. It basically involves shifting balance from one leg to another by bending your knees and moving your hips forward. My issue is when i do this my knees seem to bend but my hips don't seem to move forward.

    are there any tips you guys can give me on this and any exercise i can do to get the right hip action
  2. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    Want a tip?
    Don't try to move your hip forward.


    -I think you may have understood your instructor wrong. (Or he is really not good at breaking down what he wants you to do).
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  3. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura El Sabroso de Conguero

    It is hard to give feedback based on a written description. If you could record a video and post it, it would be easier to give you feedback. If you don't want to post it publicly, feel free to send it to me and others over PM.

    A quick tip is to not think of the hips at all, think of pushing into the floor with the ball of your foot when you step back or in place, and the center-ball (in-between the center of your foot and the ball) when you step forward. That action of pushing into the floor will push your hips out, as long as you don't block the flow of energy upwards from the floor into your hips, and will give you that nice connected hip action (i.e. the hips will move with the rest of your body and not by themselves, which looks strange and is definitely not what you should aim for).

    Also, your instructor's explanation is a bit strange because the hips don't move forward and back, they move laterally as you shift weight from one foot to the other (they do a lateral figure 8). Watch yourself in the mirror doing some walking steps and you can observe how the hips move.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  4. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    For the poster ;
    " Inside " edge of ball/flat, and, the motion is created, thru the straightening of the leg receiving weight . Also, not quite as overt as the ladies action..

    If the posters , advice comes from a BR site.. say no more...
    Dissonant Harmony likes this.
  5. dantoddd

    dantoddd Changui

    thanks for all the replies. the instructor very clearly said salsa hip motion is not a side to side hip motion but more of a rotational hip motion, and that in salsa when you move you move with a bent knee and your hips moving forward
    beethoven435 likes this.
  6. khabibul35

    khabibul35 Tumbao


    In general, one of the biggest problems that happens when people learn dances that are imported from other cultures is that they try to synthesize the body movement rather than learning how to create that action via natural body movement. What sabrosura suggested is a great program: 1) learning to harness your body's natural movement, 2) learning how to accentuate it by adding more weight, and 3) then applying it to your dancing.

    Right now, I'm working on 2/3 and let me tell you, it's hard to unlearn the bad habits, Better off to start off right!
    vit and Sabrosura like this.
  7. Jag75

    Jag75 Shine Officer


    Something doesn't sound right here. Like Sabs stated a video of what you're referring to would make it much easier to determine what is meant by "hips moving forward". If anything the hips will move in the opposite direction of the stepping leg, and backwards. It's more of a rotation and more stylized in ballroom and more subtle, more "side to side" in street salsa (note - there isn't actually any such thing as ballroom salsa, it's all street).

    It's true that you do step onto a bent knee, and you step into the ball of your foot (inside ball is even better but takes practice), but the hips shouldn't be a deliberate action at all. The are the result of the stepping action.
    beethoven435 and Sabrosura like this.
  8. Jag75

    Jag75 Shine Officer

    Oh and welcome to SF dantoddd!
    Dissonant Harmony likes this.
  9. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura El Sabroso de Conguero

    Only took me about four years to get my salsa movement* to the point where it feels good :D
    (To me, based on my personal standards -- doesn't mean I'm not still refining it, but I'm finally at the point where my movement feels good to me -- balanced, grounded, light, whole-body connected--whereas before it just didn't feel right)
    So keep at it, there is light at the end of the tunnel :)

    *Probably would have taken me much longer if I didn't have:
    1) Ballroom experience -- which helped me understand the movement technique I should be aiming for in my salsa basic once I was ready to understand it (when I got to stage 3)
    2) Frequent traditional bachata and merengue dancing -- their lateral stepping movement felt much more natural and connected and gave me a reference point for how my salsa movement should feel (my bachata and merengue movement felt good almost from the beginning, unlike my salsa)
    3) Several months of dancing casino and observing / learning rumba in Cuba, which were the final "push" that helped me start to piece everything together both in my mind and body, while leveraging 1) and 2)
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
    LarsM likes this.
  10. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura El Sabroso de Conguero

    Something is getting lost in translation. Perhaps he means diagonally forward and back? (since the hips do a diagonal figure 8) There is simply no physical way for the hips to "move forward"; unless we are talking about a back-and-forth thrusting action, which I really hope is not what your instructor is actually teaching you. :p

    Here is Oliver Pineda, one of the top salsa dancers in the world, teaching a basic step movement class. Look at how his hips are moving. (This is a good home practice exercise by the way.)

    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
  11. dantoddd

    dantoddd Changui

    yes! you are correct. That's exactly what he meant. he showed it in class and looked very much like that. thanks. So, what should i do to start moving like that. :)
  12. elanimal

    elanimal Tumbao

    Great suggestions, but a few simple things that haven't been mentioned:

    1. Get your merengue right. If merengue doesn't feel right, the salsa probably won't. Having gone to an Oliver Pineda workshop (guy in the video above) where he taught the basic, he starts off with the merengue motion first and foremost. Related: step small. Damn near impossible to achieve hip movement when you step large, and it should be subtle anyway.

    2. Practice in front of a mirror, by yourself. Even better if you record yourself. Just find what works for you, don't just wait for your instructor to give you their opinion. It's about you feeling comfortable. Compare yourself to others you think look good, and figure out what the differences are. Or send it to people here, as others have recommended.
    3. As a guy it's fine to think about hip movement, but more important are the shoulders and movement of the upper torso, imho. Many people actually teach guys to restrict the hips and only move the upper torso subtly, which I think looks better for me.

    As you get more advanced you might understand Sabrosura's post even further... as you 'push' your foot into the ground, the energy generated from that push should flow through the entire body to generate that body movement. Specifically, as you step with your left foot, push into the ground with it to start the movement towards your right... this will generate the movement of the hip to your left, with the shoulders going right, as you step with your right foot.

    A helpful way to think about it... your shoulder and foot should be moving in the same direction... if you step with your left, your left shoulder moves towards the step, while the right hip moves away from it, generating that movement. If you're stepping with your right foot, the right shoulder follows it, while the hip moves left.

    However, there are other ways to explain it... and this may confuse you further, but whatever, you asked for it, jejeje. The basic difference in the arguments in these basics is a chicken-and-egg dilemma. What comes first, where does the movement initiate? Some people say it comes from the center of the body, like Franklin Díaz explains below, and others explain it as a 'push' from the ground where you are stepping.

    In the end... practice all the different explanations and find what feels best for you.
  13. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    You could not be farther, from the actual technique..

    HOW and WHEN, and WHERE one transfers the weight to the stepping leg/foot, is whether or no, one will create a subtle and "natural " hip action. This can only be created thru this process. Upper body action, plays no part in this process..

    And, this NOT about opinion, but simply a technical method that, gets the correct desired result...
  14. elanimal

    elanimal Tumbao

    jajajaja. Did that sentence mention anything about where the hip movement originates from? It is merely a comment about what I think influences a guy's body movement to look more natural and manly, not that the upper body determines the hip movement.

    If you read the entire post, you wouldn't have jumped to that conclusion.

    When you also say that technical aspects, even as simple as the basic and generating hip movement are not subject to opinion, and where the movement originates from... as seen by the differing teaching methods of none other than Oliver and Franklin... whose opinions I will consider above yours... it's the type of intransigent thinking that paints you as a stubborn dude who not only won't listen to people, but also jump the gun when no gun needed to be jumped.
  15. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    He has a double-DVD made entire for the "what goes where, and when".
    http://www.oliverpineda.com/store (The body movement one).

    I think it's a little lacking in the "how to generate it" part, but It will still give you much more of an idea. (Considering your instructor's message "lost in translation" - that much!)
  16. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Yes, I did read all.. my comment was addressing your statement about importance that, body action overruled leg/feet . I want to make it abundantly clear that, the " body " is what determines how and when, weight is distributed, BUT, IF the foot is not correctly placed, then the resulting action for CM will be impaired...

    In all of the vids shown, not ONE single person ( for all of their claims ) explained how to generate a smooth Cuban action, thru foot usage..
    beethoven435 likes this.
  17. elanimal

    elanimal Tumbao

    What in the world did you read? to quote myself again... " As a guy it's fine to think about hip movement, but more important are the shoulders and movement of the upper torso, imho." Where are the feet in this statement? All I said was, for a guy, accentuating upper body more than hips is desirable.

    If the videos that have been posted are not to your liking, then you can post your own. It's not hard to post youtube links. I'm sure I can learn a lot from whatever you would share. But right now, your contributions have taken away from the discussion more than added anything of utility.
    Offbeat likes this.
  18. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    I think someone took the "Dance like nobody's watching" mentality to a "Teach like no one's supposed to understand you" level.

    Is that how he usually expresses his ideas?
    dantoddd likes this.
  19. dantoddd

    dantoddd Changui

    Same here I can't understand what he's getting at.

    also, I maybe getting it wrong but his 1 is different from the 1 I'm used to. aren't you supposed to step forward on 1
  20. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    Those two helped me a little:

    So basically, he starts by ridiculing a wildly accept basic principle of body movement and calling it wrong. (Just like that).
    Then, to support it, he executes it poorly, as in: "See? It doesn't work" and say it doesn't make sense.
    To add insult to injury, he claims: "because your legs do not have control of you"

    Which is absolutely infuriating for two reasons:

    One: Because some would argue that your stepping technique is the very foundation! The pillar! Of what creates or controls your body movement. (So saying that "it doesn't work" and "doesn't control you"...Let's say I wouldn't be suprised if I saw someone leaving the room after hearing that).

    Two: Because the very principle of creating movement by pushing into the floor is about control.
    It's much more energy efficient to just fall-forward (And then your legs are moving, so you won't die), which is probably more similar to what happens when we walk. but in dance with need control - and that's where wanting to really use the ground to create movement makes more sense. (And then he says it "doesn't control you"?)

    How would you react if someone were to sell you a steering-wheel-less car, claiming that you don't need a wheel? "A wheel doesn't control your car! It doesn't make sense!~"

    -Then, he procceeds to summing up his technique, which I don't really get, because he keeps mumbling hollow sentences and using terms in a way that makes me wonder whether both of us think they mean the same things....It looks like he can't really organize his thoughts, or present them in an understand-able way, but he still expects the students to fill all the missing-gaps.

    -Anyway, that's a summary of a workshop. Perhaps he did a wonderful job explaining and defining all his terms and ideas, and making people do and feel what he really wants them do, in such a clear way, that barely showing them something is enough for them to understand what he means. (Because it's that obvious to everyone).
    I wasn't present in that workshop, and it's unfair for me to judge it by its last minutes of conclusion.

    *But honestly, based on what I saw - I doubt he's good at instructing.
    *I have a hunch I wouldn't agree with the technique he teaches. (But I guess that should be done by far superior an knowledgable dancers than me anyway; I am a mere all-talk "tyke").


    As to your question regaring his timing (Not stepping forward on 1):
    There is something called: "Dancing On2".
    Google it up! :p

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