no signs of improvement

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by acpjr, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. acpjr

    acpjr Tumbao

    I have a question to those who have been in their dance scenes for a while.

    How selective were you in soliciting dances or in accepting dance invitations when you were seeking to reach the next stage in your dance evolution?

    Here is my dilemma: I feel I am slowly exiting beginner's hell into intermediate status. However, I limit my dance invitations to a select few because I know they are "safe" to ask. Some are terribly off time, they don't wait for signals, hold on tight, are back weighted, don't stay in the slot, etc. A lot of these followers have been around longer than I have, but show no signs of improvement.

    I really want to get out of my comfort zone and ask more advanced followers. Getting out of my comfort zone includes getting over the fear of rejection, accepting rejection, and also getting over the fear of being watched and judged while dancing with an advanced follower.

    To get to the next plateau, I am seriously considering abandoning my safe comfort zone followers in favor of better followers. Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that I won't ask beginner followers to dance. I will always always always ask new faces or beginners to dance and dance with beginners if they ask. I'm talking about the followers who are regulars who just don't seem to be aware that they're off time, that they are sometimes hard to protect and hard to protect others from, and are overly concerned with styling.

    I already no longer ask a few followers, and I know they spy me from across the crowded dance floor, and I feel bad for not asking anymore like I used to, and I can only hope that they're not wondering to themselves why I've stopped asking.
  2. mavo

    mavo Changui

    If you do not enjoy dancing with these followers anymore and you feel that you have something to offer to the more advanced dancers, than go for them! I'm not saying that you switch overnight. The ideal way is a smooth transition. Start dancing with advanced followers one dance a night, then two dances a night and so on until you are satisfied :).

    It's the same as in squash. If you are a better player, then you ussually enjoy playing with beginners, but it simply isn't as exciting and rewarding as playing with players on your level. It's not your problem and you need not to feel bad that you outgrow them ... it happens a lot if you practise and they don't.
  3. t0mt0m

    t0mt0m Sonero

    It sounds like you are conscious of wanting to push yourself, and want to improve.

    You don't have to totally "abandon" your safe comfort zone followers in favor of better followers. You can change the mix - I think all leads progressing will go through this. Don't forget it's not just leads that can ask for a dance - your followers you know can always come and ask you for a dance, and i'd imagine the ones in that group that will progress, will notice the improvement in your dancing over time, and go out and ask you for a dance.

    The etiquette of dance being what it is, I get the feeling it isn't usually beneficial overall to offer advice to try and help a follower improve if you're
    unless you know specifically they want feedback, help etc. You can help by working on your side of the dance. You can then dance better, be more accomodating with them, and i'd imagine learn a trick or two of coping and improving the dance with these regulars without having to say a word.

    In a way, those followers wondering to themselves why you've stopped asking so much might be what's needed to help them become conscious of their progression a bit more. Is that too harsh? You can make sure you're still social with them off the floor, and chat with them, to make sure they know you're not snubbing them.

    Flujo's advice is very useful (and made me think a bit about where personally I should try and improve my dancing too).

    Deciding what style of dancer you want to be - I think you can be quite a few, and choose. Choosing the style can be taking into account the song, the partner you're dancing with (their preference of dance style (cheeky, flirty, solemn, fun, energetic etc)), and isn't stuck in stone.

    By choosing dancers and a scene that match what you're looking for, you really will help yourself - in terms of enjoying the dances and the scene a lot more.
    You'll have more good dances, and have less moments of feelings
    like you can't dance, you're not good enough, or that there aren't people that want to dance with you. Kind of a self-reinforcing positive thing, in a way by seeking out what you like. In a way, it's similar advice to what you would get if you were seeking mentors in business in a way.

    By enjoying the dancers and dancing you do, and the connection in those dances, you'll be able to build up confidence and progress. And if you're enjoying things, you're less likely to be feeling so nervous, and so performance pressure, worries about knowing enough moves, or being able to remember moves all diminish.

    To go back to the quote - I'd imagine just by choosing the dances you have in the way Flujo describes, you'll have less of an issue with rejection. You may well have less, and they'll be easier to accept.

    Competition dancing is the area where you should be thinking about being watched and judged while dancing .

    If you're social dancing, shouldn't it be all about being in the present, with your focus on your partner, your connection with them, and the music, and the dance? If you're aiming to have fun/laugh and a flirt etc through your dance style, and are focusing on your connection with your partner, you probably won't be able to worry about being judged or being watched at the same time :)

    Sharing that fun, enjoyment of the dance - If you read some of the other threads in the forum, if you leave a good impression with the person you're dancing with, you can benefit in ways that may not be immediately obvious to you at the time:
    e.g. You might get asked for a dance by one of their friends, in the next song, or after the follower you danced with has chatted to her friends about how the dance went, you might get recognised by her next time, and get to have a chat and a dance and to get to know them better.
  4. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    GREAT responses everyone. Acpjr you are very lucky :) :) :)

    Anyway, to simplify this and attempt to be helpful:

    1) What you are going through is natural.
    2) How you handle this will help define your dancing involvement (eg. flujos post).
    3) Is this a case of quality vs quantity? Why not have both? Eg. Unless you are dancing every song, you still have dance card space free for some advanced dancers then you get both.
    4) Those 'beginner' followers of yours will oneday likely be the advanced girls ;)
    5) If you want to improve your dancing, dont worry about WHO you dance with. Worry about HOW you dance. The best way to improve this is through private lessons, experience and solidifying strong good habits which you use in any dance :)

    Good luck and have fun :)
  5. sac

    sac Tumbao guilty of doing exactly the same thing and not sure what am i supposed to do. the only difference is im an advanced dancer in my scene
  6. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    hey mate, then my response applies to you too he he :)

    I figure the only way we will get to dance with advanced girls if we allow for them to be advanced. That means dancing with beginners/everyone so they can grow to be advanced plus we refine our skills in the process.

    Man, it would be so incredible for me to improve so much that girls and guys are inspired to improve their dancing (i.e get better) because of how hard/well we push ourselves beyond the norm. To do that I believe we have to transcend our limitations which are absolutely evident when dancing with beginners. (eg. say they are off time, dancing differently to what you expect/want then that becomes the challenge to adapt and still entertain/provide a good dance).

    At least those are my thoughts.

    Ps. If you only dance with advanced followers then I have no chance lol. I was going to suggest leading me for a dance at SISF if you were keen lol (note: my following is under MASSIVE development but it is fun to try)
  7. sac

    sac Tumbao

    no worries man, will gladly lead u if i manage to sneak in for the moment it looks unlikely bcause of unforseen circumstances:(
  8. chrisk

    chrisk Super Moderator Staff Member

    There are already some great responses in this thread. After reading your posts twice now, it seems to me that you look for one solution to 'fix' my multiple issues. But each deserves rather it's own solution. Also I prefer to talk about 'progress' rather then 'dance evolution' as the later applies in my opinion rather to dance itself then the individual dancer.

    First, every dance is going to increase your experience and add something to it, wether the follower was off time, wether you moved out of the slot, wether you messed up some lead, etc. So every dance is going to offer something, sometimes it might be very little so that we don't notice it. But taken together all those experiences will help us in our progress to become a great social dancer.

    You've also mentioned that you limit yourself to dance with only some people and called the others not 'safe' to ask. Do you define 'safe' just in the way you describe it, ie. off time or is it maybe also about the fun and the connection that you've got with the followers? Also you mention that you see no signs of improvement with those followers. Am I assuming right, that you've danced with them long enough, to not feel any improvement as to the issues that you mentioned before?

    Also I agree with the other responses, that it's a good idea to work on getting out of your comfort zone. It might take some time until you've learned do deal with getting rejections and simply moving on to the other side of the room. But in the end you'll build up the courage and strength to ask anybody for a dance and simply accept a rejection and not let it bother you. But as others have mentioned, you don't need to completely abandon your comfort zone for this process. I'll concur with others who suggested to slowly move out of the comfort zone and ask more advanced follows.

    As to the followers, who you spy on you as you mentioned. Are these followers that you mentioned above who aren't 'safe' to dance with? Or why don't you ask them anymore for dancing?

    In the end our dancing should be about having a good connection with our partner and enjoying the 4-6 minutes (or more) on the dancefloor together. So go ask those people to dance with whom you'll enjoy dancing or who look like they enjoy dancing (with you, of your ;))

    @Smiling: Not every 'beginner' follower of today is going to really end up as 'advanced girl' later. Some might drop out, some might feel comfortable at the intermediate level and only some will end up as 'advanced girls. So surely it's good to dance with 'beginner' followers and help them advance, but don't expect every 'beginner' to end up as 'advanced' follower
  9. sac

    sac Tumbao

    good point...i agree with it 100%. actually only 2% of them end up being advanced follows provided they push themselves consistently,40% will drop out due to no of reasons,some get hookedup and their SO is not into dancing, some lose interest,some pick up other hobbies and the rest of them either stick to the same level even after years of dancing or deteriorate at slow gradual pace.
  10. AndrewD

    AndrewD Shine Officer

    This is one of those things – as you get better, you start to appreciate quality and your time becomes more precious. There are several ladies who started at a similar time to me (or before) who I don’t ask very often anymore. I’m sure they think I’ve become arrogant – but my past experiences with them mean I know I won’t have an especially fun dance with them.
    One has zero connection and doesn’t put any effort in, relying on me entirely during the dance; she constantly complains about the music too. Another, has a tendency to ‘quick’ through the ‘slow’ and requires a really firm lead if I want her to stop doing this. I’m not a teacher and don’t want to point these things out – especially to those who have been dancing for as long as me. Generally I wait for them to ask…

    I’m not a technique Nazi though – another woman is a bit all over the place and a shocking hijacker – but makes up for this with 100% connection and really shares of herself during a dance (she does impressions…of animals…don’t ask). I love dancing with her :)

    I only social dance once a week – I never turn down a request, but as my time is limited I feel it’s my prerogative to ask people I actively want to dance with. Experience tells me that requests based on guilt, or a warped sense of obligation, rarely lead to good dances.
  11. Fundance

    Fundance Changui

    It's quite reasonable to value your time on the dancefloor. The risk in asking only followers you know you enjoy dancing with is that you'll be dancing with those who know your lead, and you might fail to improve it. Dancing with better followers won't necessarily improve it either - they will compensate better for any inadequacies in your lead. Doing a lower-level class is a good way to improve it....

    I also have limited time dancing, these days, & tend to optimise invitations for a good dance. But I will still accept when a poorer follow takes the initiative to aske me. And if I spot a less experienced follow who nevertheless seems to have good timing etc. I will ask her at least once during an evening. And occasionally I 'do my duty' and give someone a spin even if she is hopeless - but nice.
  12. TrulyMadlyAmanda

    TrulyMadlyAmanda Shine Officer

    to generalise wildly, most salseras are underconfident in who they ask to dance, most salseros are overconfident. as a leader with less than a couple of years' experience, it does your dancing no good whatsoever to dance repeatedly with a susana montero, who will squeeze some enjoyment out of the dance, make you look good and never refuse you - imho. by all means, dance with great follows from time-to-time, but dont punish their good natures by repeatedly asking - i see poor shelley cook fall victim constantly, because she's so nice.

    i dont think this is what the OP has in mind at all, but just had to come out and say it. the problem is, the intermediate-leader often wont pay enough attention to developing his lead/timing/style, whilst the good-follower is compensating for it all and he's busy watching her awesome styling. he thinks he's as good as the other guys she dances with, he's hanging out with the 'cool' salsamafia, so he's happy. meanwhile, i know a few guys like this, and their dancing is developing so sloooooowly it's like watching continental drift.

    meanwhile, there's nothing better, imho, to develop a follower fast than her dancing with great leads. part of the reason why so many star salseras are gorgeous.....the great leads all danced with them as beginners, enjoying time spent with a beauty, and catapulted them over their peers. whereas dancing with a good follower makes it too easy for a leader to grow (imho), dancing with a good leader makes the basics easier to follow, and simultaneously presents a brilliant following challenge, since the moves are more complicated. since following is more passive, the follower is more likely to pick up good connection etc from the lead 'by osmosis'.

    i think it's great for intermediates to dance the odd dance with superstars, but if you constantly ask someone and they never, ever ask you back, seem eager to dance with you, or seem to avoid eye contact when you approach, we have to ask ourselves why.... ;)

    sorry if that makes me sound like a person, but i really feel sorry for all the great follows out there who only get to dance 30% of their dances at their own level, because intermediate guys cant read body language, and/or put themselves into the follower's shoes... yes, followers could say no, but it's only 5 minutes of their time....the trouble is, it's 5 minutes with each one of 30 guys... i think this is some of where the idea of 'cliqueyness' comes from...standing in a certain area surrounded by dancers at your level helps get dances at your level...

    of course, you can have great dances with people at any level. :cool: ok, going into my evil person corner now... :oops:
    Chris_Yannick likes this.
  13. antigone

    antigone Pattern Police

    excellently put (see, sometimes my two cents are nice :) )
  14. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    As always, well said my friend.

    Completely agree and thanks for refinining my point. Just saying that just as we leads do not like to be categorised or 'boxed' at our level of today, we should try and do the same for followers.

    Eg. I cannot tell you the amount of times I hear from leads who were snobbed in their early days to then end up better than the people who snobbed them and not dance with them lol.

    lets not snob 'beginner' girls in the same way :)
    *not because they may end up as advanced but because at the end of the day it is about dancing, sharing, fun and not ranking :) :) :)
  15. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    Great post and point well made.

    I do feel you should not overbear on anyone's good nature. I guess as traditionally the leaders ask more than followers, the danger is that the leaders ask girls above them too much and the 'advanced' girls get dumbed down.

    But even that has its strengths in terms of girls being able to focus on there things a bit more (styling, musicality, awareness) instead of being 100% absorbed into the lead.

    I guess at the end of the day, variety is the spice of life and everyone can benefit from dancing with advanced and beginners in some way. All a matter of perspective, awareness of self and others and a balance :)
  16. acpjr

    acpjr Tumbao

    Thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses. There is good feedback in every reply.

    To clarify, when I talk about followers I consider "safe", I will be blunt and state some of their characteristics:

    1) they accepted your invitations when you were a beginner, and now that you have improved and become a stickler for timing, staying in the slot, having a connection, etc., you realize you have surpassed them in these areas
    2) when a song comes on that you need to dance to, and you look around and all the good followers are taken, you ask them to dance simply because you don't want to miss out on the song
    3) they no longer seem to be improving, despite the fact they they take class all the time

    So why, you ask, would one continue to dance with those that they find to be more of a chore than anything else?

    I suppose for the same reason people do other things that are bad for them, like slouching while walking or sitting, not getting enough sleep, eating too much junk food/fast food, procrastinating, etc.: it becomes habitual.

    Honestly, these are my comfort zone dancers. They were my training wheels when I started out. I don't expect much out of the dance, I keep hoping I'll be surprised, sometimes I am (in both good and bad ways), I can't try anything too complicated for safety reasons (theirs and others), but at least I'm out there dancing.

    I am quickly learning that pity dances no matter the level of dancer, whether I ask a beginner who has sat out for a while, or whether someone has looked me up and down, shrugged their shoulders and accepted my invitation anyway, are not satisfying at all.

    I am still curious though, has anyone actually done what I am considering to do, which is essentially go cold turkey and "dump" the "safe" followers? If so, how have you avoided being perceived as a snob? Has anyone asked you "why don't you ask me to dance anymore" and you gave them a brutally honest answer?

    I find that it's really tough, once you establish an aquaintanceship or repoire with these people you see all the time, to choose to sit out instead of asking them to dance. It just becomes all a little weird sometimes.
  17. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator


    You have obviously put a lot of thought into this. As for your question, just tell them you will dance next time (but mean it and try to). No need to go cold turkey. Trust me, you cannot dance every song with a so called advanced dancer (especially see Amanda's great post above).

    Can I share something which i hope helps. I feel I went through something similar and believe it is a rite of passage of leads. The funny thing is I could have written everything you did and I can HONESTLY say that is was COMPLETELY me. Nothing to do with who I was dancing with. Like Amanda says, dancing with advanced girls can actually hide your issues and stagnate your development (all a balance).

    Anyway, hopefully get some private lessons if you can and ask your instructor that you trust. I CANNOT EMPHASISE ENOUGH HOW VALUABLE I BELIEVE PRIVATE LESSONS ARE. They REALLY give perspective. It can take a while to get to an instructor (s) that you like/are good for you but when you get HONEST feedback about how you are dancing and the cause/effect relationship when you dance, you will realise how much control/cause you have in the dances and ability to improve/control the things you mention.

    Not saying you are doing this ( I was and still am but always improving ;) but often we send mixed messages to girls. Beginners follow it (bad habits and all) but an advanced dancer will often NOT succumb to bad habits (eg. rushing 4 and 8 when on1). So best to find out what impact you are having on dancers through private lessons in my opinion.

    Anyway good luck :)
  18. sac

    sac Tumbao

    So why, you ask, would one continue to dance with those that they find to be more of a chore than anything else? : I think of the same thing myself on numerous occassions. I would not stop dancing with them, but will find ways to correct them without actually saying anythign. If they get it, then job well done:). I am not an instructor and like everyone else, i believe i should not be giving advice to anyone unless they ask.

    I am still curious though, has anyone actually done what I am considering to do, which is essentially go cold turkey and "dump" the "safe" followers? : I would wait for a couple of weeks before asking them. if i see any improvement, i will compliment them. I will never ever dump them.
    If so, how have you avoided being perceived as a snob? : its hard to dump anyone and not be percieved as a snob. hell people will call u a snob even if u genuinely had forgotten to ask themt to dance. happens to me all the time
    Has anyone asked you "why don't you ask me to dance anymore" and you gave them a brutally honest answer? : Thankfully no one has asked me this before although i might have to fail to notice that they are staring at me and waiting for me to ask them. I always accept dances and never say no to a follow who asks me:)
  19. GForce85

    GForce85 Rhythm Deputy

    I understand what you're going through here, and I have experienced/am experiencing it too. My suggestion to you is to just don't ask anyone that you don't want to dance with. I've been thinking about it, and I think we all get too caught up in being ultra-nice. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there is a problem with being nice, but I'm just saying none of us should end up having to regularly dance with people we don't want to dance with. That's why guys can choose not to ask ladies they don't want to dance with and ladies can choose to say no to guys they don't want to dance with. It should be the natural order of things, but it's not. Guys (including me) ask some ladies because they feel like they're "supposed to", even if they know it won't be enjoyable. Ladies say yes to some guys because they feel like they're "supposed to" even if they know they won't enjoy it. Giving new people a chance is one thing, but regularly suffering through dances with someone you don't like dancing with is a different story.

    Before I start rambling too much, I'll just say that I've been modifying my approach. I ask ladies that I enjoy dancing with, of course. I ask new ladies assuming I can muster up the courage (I'm still a wuss sometimes haha). I no longer ask the ladies that I've danced with regularly over the course of the year and they still squeeze my fingers or backlead too much or whatever like they did on day one. If they ask me, I say yes, but usually only once, MAYBE twice in a night, but no more than that because it's not enjoyable.

    Believe it or not, you're allowed to not like dancing with some ladies, and you're allowed to choose not to ask them to dance. You may look like a snob to some, but imo it's better to look like a snob and have fun than it is to bend over backwards proving you aren't one and end up always going to the club knowing that several miserable dances await you no matter what. Just make sure you don't ACTUALLY become a snob. On the flip side, keep in mind when you're starting to ask a new group of ladies (advanced or otherwise) that they are allowed to not like dancing with you and they're allowed to choose to tell you no. The concept applies to them as well.

    I think this is kind of a two-way street, to be honest. I've seen plenty of cases of follows thinking they're great when really they're just dancing with great leads that compensate for their shortcomings. In fact, I think this may contribute to the problem that the OP is seeing with the follows he referenced. I know it's EASIER for follows to pick things up by dancing with great leads, but the star salseras, regardless of their level of attractiveness, still put in work to improve themselves and become great. I guess what I'm saying is I don't know that dancing with great follows makes it too easy to grow. As long as the guy puts in work, he will grow. Also, I don't know that dancing with great leads will necessarily make a follow good by default. If she chooses not to put in work, she won't grow beyond a relatively low level. I think we can choose whether we stop growing or not, and that happens on a case-by-case basis rather than based on whether we lead or follow.

    I think this goes back to what I was saying before about people dancing with people they don't want to dance with. If a lady wants a high level dance for a certain song, then she shouldn't say yes to someone who asks just because she's "supposed to". She can politely say no and dance with someone else, then maybe go get the other guy later. On another note, I would like to point out that getting to dance less dances at your level is part and parcel of becoming a high level dancer, as there are less and less people at your level in the first place. Pro basketball players won't find much of a challenge in pick-up games anymore. It's not that they don't find them fun, just that they don't find them challenging, and they wouldn't want to have to just play pickup games all the time. That's why they play in the pros. Well, that and the massive amounts of money they make. Anyway, cliqueyness is in the eye of the beholder. I've got no problem with ladies hanging out where they feel they'll get the most quality dances, as long as they aren't outright mean to those who "invade the inner-circle", so to speak.
    Chris_Yannick likes this.
  20. crazygirl

    crazygirl Rhythm Deputy

    Very good points, made by many you, about the politics of salsa :)

    Also nice for people to read so they realise that the reasons people do or don't want to dance with you are wide and varied and shouldn't be taken too personally.

    We are all there to get the very best experience for ourselves but in doing that have to remember to give a little to our scenes to keep things healthy cos too much selfish or selfless behaviour is not good.

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