Leading and understanding beats

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by salilsurendran, Sep 21, 2008.

  1. Hello Friends,
    I have a problem with leading. Many times I lead the girl to do an outside turn and she does an inside turn? I feel like I am doing the action correct but the girl does what she feels like anyway. What should I do to make my leads stronger? I am listening to salsa music in my car, but I have trouble reading beats? Whats the best way to recognize the beat? Do the beats repeat themselves in a pattern? Is there a particular sound that I must learn to recognize?
  2. TrulyMadlyAmanda

    TrulyMadlyAmanda Shine Officer

    hello and welcome! i'm guessing youre dancing cross-body style...?

    it's difficult to say without dancing with you, but it sounds like your two problems are related. if the girl is dancing on the beat, she should be on a particular foot on each beat - dancing on the 1, she'll have her weight on her right foot on 1,(3,4, feet together) & 6 and her left on 2,5,(7,8 feet together).

    your feet should be together at the same time as hers are - this helps you know whether you are dancing to the same beat as each other....if you dont currently put your feet together on 3/4 and 7/8, i'd suggest doing it until you feel sure of the timing (beats).

    it sounds like what's happening is that youre giving her the lead for an outside turn, when her weight is on the wrong foot. i can think of two main ways to solve that: one is to learn what steps she does to do a turn, then give her a lead when her weight is on the correct foot....it's the harder way, but really good for your dancing long-term. the other way is to make sure her/your feet are together at the same time, then give the lead for the outside turn on the 4 count (you'll just have finished stepping forwards-and-together, and be about to step back-and together).

    either that, or maybe the turn lead is not clear enough....drawing a circle in the air with your leading finger/s should help. unless women are telling you your lead is too soft, more force probably wont help.

    why not ask a female teacher to dance with you and offer advice, or ideally take a private lesson with her? failing that, ask the women youre dancing with what they think the problem is.

    learning to recognise the beat is a whole other, longwinded issue - if you make a search, there's already a thread about it here. meanwhile, you could ask a local teacher which girls have good timing, dance with them, and try to match your steps to theirs, rather than the other way around....then count and/or get her to count with you.

    hope any of this makes sense? ive tried not to use jargon, and to speak as generally as possible, but i'm not used to writing about salsa - pedants, leave me alone please! ;):) by far the best way for you to resolve the problems is with a good teacher in private classes....if that's not possible, women on the dance floor are your best resource, and usually kind/helpful. if one isnt, another one will be. :cool: good luck!
  3. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    Hi and welcome!

    Great response by Amanda as usual.

    Hopefully i can assist also :)

    Firstly, great question as it shows you are a GOOD leader already. A good leader focuses on what the girl is doing. A good leader turns intention into a clear invitation of execution.

    So well done. Next step to being a good leader is PATIENCE and UNDERSTANDING. A girl will always do what they 'feel' like as you write above (the girl does what she feels) no matter how good you 'lead'. To me a lead is not a command/demand but an invitation. You just try and make it as clear and enticing as possible ha ha.

    Allow her to feel secure/encouraged and enticed to follow through on your intention.

    You say to make your leads stronger. That is like chatting to someone and when they do not understand/do what you want you decide to say the same thing BUT YELL AT THEM SO THEY GET THE POINT. Not the best method. My suggestion is to rethink the message you want to send and how to get it across. Step back from the frustration.

    RECOGNISE that the message is not getting across and enquire why. Get good instruction (privates best but even ask instructor in/after class).

    As you develop you will keep asking yourself 'how can I better send my invitation/lead and make the trip as lovely as possible' so keep up and you will be a great dancer :)


    Many threads on the board. Search this board and keep reading/practicing. Check out buying timing cds which really help.

    Overall, you are on the right track. It takes patience though (especially for me lol) so keep on practicing and stay positive :)

    Hope your journey is a good one!

  4. MacMoto

    MacMoto Administrator Staff Member

    I assume you are talking about a crossbody lead with an outside turn (the follower turning clockwise/right during CBL). Have you tried it with experienced followers, or only relative beginners? If all the girls who get it wrong are beginners, it may be them rather than you who's got a problem with it. If the problem persists with more experienced followers, then you probably need to adjust your lead.

    I've always found the outside turn harder to lead *and* follow than the inside turn. I feel (though leaders here may jump in and correct me!) that the lead for the outside turn needs to start a tad earlier than the lead for the inside turn. For an inside turn, you would let the follower step forward first on the 5 (or 2 if on2) before leading the turn; for an outside turn, I feel that the direction of the turn needs to be indicated in time for the 5 (or 2) so that when the follower steps forward, she's already prepared to turn right at the same time. If you let her step forward straight first, it makes it harder for her to start and complete the outside turn.
  5. AndrewD

    AndrewD Shine Officer

    Mmm – don’t know if you mean the walk through (half an outside turn) or the 1.5 rotation outside turn. All I know is that I used to have more trouble leading the ‘simpler’ half a turn, than the zippier 1.5 turn; indeed one of my leader friends has trouble with the walkthrough and describes his problem pretty much the same way as you.

    For the half outside turn, it’s mainly a case of leading the direction of travel through the 5 and 6, then the rotation for the 7 (on1 timing). Remember that any time you raise your hand above the lady’s head she’s likely to think you want to turn her, so if you do it too soon she is likely to default into an inside turn. As you acquire a more focussed lead you can keep your hand high throughout the move, but your tension must be right so that she knows she’s travelling, rather than turning.

    For the one and a half turn it’s as Macmoto says – I usually lead this with my right hand (to either of her hands) as the prep feels more comfortable. Anyway, for this one you put in the prep on beat 4, so that the follower knows her rotation will start on beat 5. Because she naturally steps forward on this beat, she’ll typically travel through the slot anyway, but some ladies do need a bit of encouragement forward during the 6/7.

    Regarding finding the beat – keep on listening, practicing your basic footwork and visualising your leading. When you dance with a partner try and appreciate whether what you lead makes the follower rush or finish too soon – learn from your mistakes and alter things, soon you’ll find a sweet spot where the timing is just right. You’ll also appreciate that some moves actually have a big margin for error. After a while muscle memory kicks in and instead of leading a simple clock wise turn on a certain beat you start associating moves with your body position and where your feet are.
  6. chr

    chr Shine Officer

    Hmmm, strange I find it easier to lead and follow the (half) outside turn than both the inside and the 1.5 outside.

    One trick to lead the outside turn is to place the right hand on the follower's left shoulder on 2 (when dancing on1) and give a very very very gentle push.

    Of course this is no replacement for poor timing, but just an additional hint to the follower to make the lead even clearer.
  7. Ok. I just finished the level 3 in my class. Which meant I was doing some complex cross body leads. There was an evaluation as to who would go to level 4. Most of my friends made it. I knew I wouldn't make it. In fact my instructor asked to go back to level 1 and get the beats right. I am not very surprised with this because I never got the beats correct and I could see that a lot of the ladies in my class were getting frustrated with this and didn't even want to dance with me. I feel I put in a lot of hard work but I can't read the beats which is screwing me up in a big way. I feel if I could recognize the beats it would solve 90% of my current salsa problem. Are there are any good timing CDs or resources that I could use? Any suggestion to help with beats is welcome. A lot of the suggestions here are with leads which I guess is not a problem now that I will be back in Level 1.
  8. Flujo

    Flujo Sabor Ambassador

    Hi salilsurendran.
    Not sure if this has been mentioned already but whenever I'm not sure about how something works and what timing is best for the lead I'll try shadowing (walking through the move) as a follower. That way you get a better, thought not the best, idea of when the lead needs to happen. It's best to ask your teacher but for those times when you are away from class the above can help.

    Speaking of the levels. I'm curious, where are you based?
  9. opm1s6

    opm1s6 Sabor Ambassador

    The Eddie Torres timing cd is like the holy grail of salsa timing. Mark Bello also has some ok dvds out there, but he also uses the Eddie Torres cds in his presentation. Both will break down the different rhythms and show you how they work together.

    Personally, I just listened to a lot of salsa, and constantly asked myself "Where is the 1?" and once you can find the 1, then start asking yourself, "Where is the 5?" Understanding how the clave fits into the beats, and then hearing the clave rhythm even if the instrument isn't necessarily being used are also keys to hearing the beat. I'd recommend listening to this song
    a few hundred times. Try to hear the pattern of the bass, the clave, the güiro, the conga, and the cowbell in this song. I'd start by focusing on the bass and notice how it not only repeats, but that the 1 is very prominent, and how the overall rhythm is split it into two parts. When the clave comes in, once again you'll notice how it's split into two parts. For the clave these beats are 2,3 5,n(6.5),8. If you focus on having your feet match the 1 of the bass and the 2,3 of the clave where, the rest should just work. Sometimes you might have to interpolate where the beats are based on those you already can hear. The section where the mambo bell comes in (2:45) has the mambo bell playing on a full count (1 - 8). When the piano comes in, it starts on 1 and the bells turn to an alternating 1,3,5,7 count.

    If you want some shortcuts, there are a few things that you can listen for (although they aren't in the above mentioned song). Typically if you have a new instrument or if a new vocal section start, it often (but not always) starts on the 1. Often there is a bell in a lot of salsa songs, and the typical rhythm for that is on 1, 3, 5 & 7. These aren't necessarily set in stone and there are plenty of times that the band will do something different, but they are common patterns.

    I should also mention that this process isn't easy and takes some effort and a lot of listening. It's a personal journey and while I can show you what helped for me, it doesn't mean your mind works the same way. I believe this is the greatest single thing a beginner can do to improve their salsa and it has nothing to do with what their instructors are teaching them (very few focus on the music), so when you say that it will solve 90% of your problems, I truly believe it. I'd also recommend listening to some salsa stations...non stop. Good streaming stations can be found at www. batanga.com or at www. shoutcast.com or www. hardsalsa.com
  10. MacMoto

    MacMoto Administrator Staff Member

    I find that the follower usually does an inside turn automotically if I do the 'bounce' lead.

    I think what you are calling a 1.5 outside turn is what I'm calling an outside turn - if it's a half turn, I'd call it a walkthrough.

    Yup, that works but *very gentle* is the important part. I hate it when the leader shoves me to make me turn after a late lead.
  11. Sorry for the very late reply. Since the last time I posted my problem with beats have gone down considerably. I have been to these two resources:
    These two typically explained the instruments very well. So I know the clave, tumbao, guiro and mascaras patterns pretty well. However, most of the time I hear the guiro and mascaras, which does help. I also can hear the clave if audible. However, I can never make out the tumbhao. I am trying to hear the Bongo bell and Mambo bells too. Also one another strategy I am trying is to eliminate all the vocals and melody and just listen to the bass instruments and once I find a pattern divide it into 4/8 counts. This helps sometimes. All in all, even if I am able to dance with the beat and my partners confirm that. I was wondering if there are any good cheap Salsa CDs I can buy or order. I would like to download some via iTunes but i can't copy them to CDs because of copy protection.

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