How do you take your partner with you on a musical break exploration :)

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by smiling28, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    Hi Team,

    Spurred on by some feedback from someone, I thought I would explore this idea :)

    Ideally I guess you and your partner both dance with each other in the music.

    A couple of (very aware) people have said to me that I dance with the music and not my partner.

    Now to be honest I would agree. (with usual caveats he he)

    * My first allegiance is to the music. In a perfect dance, I get to play in the music. It is so wonderful when my partner and I are on the same page so we both play with the music. This is a wonderful connection with each other to me but others may disagree.

    * I do feel I sacrifice this though if I dance with someone who is not confident in the music. (i.e beginner). I just try and focus on them having fun and inspiring them to keep going.


    But in my natural state, it is the music that I am there for. The partner keeps me there but the music brought me if that makes sense.

    Whereas I notice another dancer who gets compliments here has a very different style to me. I watched him and he is good. He is very strong in the music in keeping time. He basically keeps time and has a strong timing dance whilst focusing on his partner (so I am told and I did observe the music part).

    Whereas I play around with the music, I will stray off time to go explore if there is a nice break. Sometimes I find something really cool, sometimes nothing. I do then return to the beat and I do try and take my partner with me when I go exploring.

    I guess that is what I would love, how do you help take your partner with you on a musical break/exploration?

    And also, should I be just focusing on keeping time and dancing with partner or exploring like I do. Some people say I am a free spirit so I guess this is me. I am a guy who walks along the street, sees something and goes 'well, I am obviously here for a reason and have never seen that. Wonder what is down there...................'

    *I appreciate this can be frustrating for a partner as they may not have noticed what I noticed and are like 'what the hell is he doing, what am *I* supposed to do'

    thanks
    #1
  2. Big10

    Big10 Shine Officer

    I think it's possible to keep time and explore the music simultaneously -- after all, isn't that what the musicians themselves are doing? My general rule, though, is that I don't like to force my partner to be "off" time.

    The easiest way, of course, is just to let your partner go, so that you can freestyle/shine without disrupting her timing, and then just pick her up again when you're back on the beat.

    If I'm in a closed position, then I'm more likely to emphasize the stops or hard breaks in the music with a "freeze" on the accent, and then pick back up on the next "1." Most women can handle that, especially when the breaks are very obvious in the music.

    If I want to keep a connection with my partner while I'm exploring more subtle breaks, then I'll probably just hold her with just one hand/arm. That gives me extra freedom to play around with my body and footwork, while giving her similar freedom to "play." However, if she's not as comfortable as I am, I try to isolate the hand (i.e., reduce the "noise") that's connecting us. That way, I'm not forcing her offbeat if she just wants to do a simple basic holding one of my hands. Then, when I want to start leading her again, I'll get back on the "normal" beat for both of us.

    Yeah, I get that a lot, especially with beginners or early intermediates. When I notice that happening, then I'll quickly get back into partnerwork and tone down my freestyling with that partner.

    Honestly, though, I don't like leading moves/patterns for 100% of any song, so I give every single dance partner a chance to freestyle or add some flavor at some point during every song I dance. Sometimes they take advantage of it (and those tend to be my favorite partners), and sometimes they don't.....but I always give them a chance.
  3. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    Beautiful response mate, thank you!!!

    I do try the things you have said. All of them and they do work. I may have miscommunicated. I do not break the timing so to speak (not always he he). But I just break away or invite the girl with a freeze or things like that. Actually what some of the best dancers have complimented on (that I make room for them to be and express) but also what I have gotten flack for (selfish dancing forgetting my partner).

    I know it is a balance and we must adjust to our partners. (will REALLY work on executing this though)

    When I choose to be expressivethough comes the issue:

    I guess it comes down to the best leads KNOW what they are going to do before they do it and are DEFINITE in purpose and execution.

    I just react and make things up from time to time for the moment, mood, music and whatever else he he.

    Even when I know a song and the breaks, I may play with them differently this time around just for the moment.

    * so my point is that I do not know exactly what I am going to do. I guess I know I am going to do 'something' but whatever hits me at the moment.

    Is this just an experience thing, where the more experience I get the better I will be able to have a clear purpose and execution or what tips can you guys give to really share what I am doing out there :)

    *or trying to share.

    So how can I maintain this
  4. Big10

    Big10 Shine Officer

    Well, based on your definition, I'm not one of "the best leads," since I'm just like you and I make it up as I go along. I still have fun, though! My confidence is only in knowing when the "exploration" will start, and then having confidence in the fact that I'll be on beat when I resume the traditional leading. I rarely know exactly what I'm going to do in-between. Indeed, in the meantime, if I'm not confident in what's happening with the music and finding the beat, then I'll just wait and keep freestyling until I am confident that I've found the beat. ;)

    I think you were correct to reference the adjustment for each partner -- there's a whole bunch of trial and error. And, even "the best leads" are not perfect at playing with the music with every single partner. So much of Salsa dancing is about the unspoken connection, so it's impossible to guess correctly 100% of the time. Like I tell my students, the guys who look like the best leads are often merely the best guys at covering up their mistakes. :cool:
  5. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    lol - man, to be on a similar path to you means I am VERY proud of how I am growing!!!

    When I say definition of leads, I meant leads as in 'leading a move' not 'lead to dance with' if that makes sense.

    I was just comparing it to when I started and I would think about leading something, change my mind, or decide too late to let the girl in on my little secret thought/move he he.

    I have no definitions as of yet. All just a myriad of ideas and concepts which bubble around and are adaptable.

    *or that is my goal :)
  6. chrisk

    chrisk Super Moderator Staff Member

    Hm, can you try to be a bit more specific why you feel that you sacrificing the music? So far, it seems to me that even when I dance with beginners and keep it very simple, I can play with the music. I also think that you can get them interested in listening more carefully to the music if you try to include at least a bit of playing with the music.

    Also reading about your first allegiance to the music, I was thinking about myself and if I could say the same. After thinking a bit about it, I've found it very difficult to make a decision about my first and second allegiance. Surely the music is very important and you can dance it to on your own, but it's not as much as fun as dancing with a partner. But dancing with a partner to no music or some other music wouldn't be an option for me as well. So I suspect my allegiance is to salsa as both the music and the dance.

    I'm not really going to explore if there's a music but rather rely on my (I suspect rather basic) knowlegde of the structure of salsa music as well as my feeling when hearing the music, to decide if there's a nice break to use or not. So taking some workshops on the theory of salsa music has helped me to find those breaks or other nice elements to play with. And also listening to a lots of salsa with large variety of artists/groups seems to have helped me in guessing what might happen next. It seems to me that there are clues in the music that you can use to really hit the breaks, etc. (But I still miss some breaks, hits, etc.)
  7. terence

    terence Maestro 'Timbalero' Puente


    Dont think that, is entirely true... the re- action time in dance is stimulated by musical passages ( we dont even have to know the song ) familiar phrasing in music becomes part of our " awareness ", which allows us, altho sub-conciously , to react without thought ( so we think ! ) and plan 1 to maybe 2 ideas ahead of the current position.

    We are, to a degree, creatures, of habit, and " freestyle " dance sequences, can and do fall into that category .

    The closer idea of " freeform " is shine, and even then, we are restricted to what we know and trust ,to a greater or lesses degree.
  8. Flujo

    Flujo Sabor Ambassador

    Nothing to add at the moment. Just wanted to say great post and second what Big10 said. :)
  9. bailar y tocar

    bailar y tocar Clave Commander


    A lot of different aspects that could lead in different directions in this OP. In much of salsa, except the most boring pop-salsa, there are many different rhythms going simultaneously. I am not sure what you maen by taking your dance partner along on an exporation of breaks that are not part of the main rhythm. When I reflect on what I do when I am improvising: I want my dance partner to continue with the main rhythm and not adjust to my improvisation. That sort of mirrors what the band is doing. Typically (in salsa) the timbal or piano player might do an extended improv solo and the rest of the rhythm section (conga, bass, minor percussion) keeps the main rhythm going. When the rhythm section doesn't do that the music is very hard to dance to.

    Your other point: can one do this with beginner dance partners ? Not easily. They could be thrown off if they are not keeping their own time. How about intermediate or more advanced dance partners ? Still not easily. They may not appreciate improvisations. Some people like their salsa straight up, others like it shaken not stirred ;)
  10. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    Ahhhhh great points everyone!!!

    The simplest way to break it down for me is you know when everyone is sitting around and a good song comes on. I am LITERALLY jumping around looking frantically for a partner (if I cannot find one). Searching everywhere, and at worst case if the mood is so strong, just dance solo or bop along watching (still a part of it all). Some others just sit around (not their style song or whatever). So I guess what I am saying, is that to me, there are parts of the song to me that scream 'go now, lets do it' and I hear that differently to people and if they do not react what do I do?

    Do I go off without them? Do I just hold back and stay with them? For the dancing analogy above, my first inclination is to invite them to be a part of the song (want to dance :) ).

    So trying to relate that to the dance, and invite them to come mess around in the music with me. How do you do that?



    *note: funny thing about music is how we hear different things. I remember a good instructor saying 'do you hear the flute' and I could not. Amazing how wonderful music is!

    Digression on music he he
    ------------------------------
    *something else I have noticed with predicting things, when i know something is coming up I cannot help but jump in a little bit early (like singing the words half a second before the main singer).

    Hopefully something I will correct with experience?

    :)

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