Is leading without the follower changing direction possible? (Cuban Salsa or Casino)

#1
Short explanation:

I wonder if it is possible to lead the follower with him/her doing as few shard-edged directional changes as possible. For example, I would consider a Dil que no a change of direction. Also every Enchufla can be categorized as a change of direction because the follower is turning at the end.

Do you think it is theoretically possible to lead the follower without stopping the follower's forward momentum at any point (by avoiding any changes of direction concerning the follower)?


Two patterns that could be used and do not contain directional changes are leading the follower on beat 1-8 around my right in a circle. The other is Coca-cola, meaning the follower is walking around the leader leftwards.

I believe it is basically impossible to combine both figures directly after one another without the follower turning in a DLQ because you sadly ;-) can only be in one place at once ... (L = Leader, F = Follower, starting on the right circle)

leading without stopping.jpg

Do you nonetheless think there is a way to not break the continous forward movement of the follower?

Longer explanation:

I am still fascinated by the question of flow/momentum and how to archieve it. I find it very difficult to dance with some beginning follower because they do not change direction fast enough and often pause instead of keeping to walk.

The other night I watched a couple of Casino videos and figured that most momentum is gained when the follower is continously walking forward instead of making directional changes (simply meaning: the follower is turning around). What I mean by that can most easily be obserbed when watching videos of the MCC-"school." Because there are so few direction changes and the follower keeps a continous forward momentum there are hardly an tough breaks to observe, everything flows steadily.

See an example here:


The problem especially with beginners not turning fast enough or stopping could partially be solved by avoiding those changes of direction or using them as few times as possible. I wonder if one could add onto this and even erease any sharp turns of the part of the follower?

I know, that would actually mean to get rid of all Dil que no and Enuchfla at all. Then, it could even be debated if this could still be called Casino (or Salsa).
 
#2
The follower moves (in space) CW or CCW in relation to you,
Yes, you can change the 'angle' and 'direction' of her movement (in relation to you) by changing how she moves,
but you can also do that by changing the position of...yourself!

1515423533569.png

L crosses the girl, making her (in her attempt to "orbit" him) change from CW to CCW in a "flow-ish' manner - then the man keeps the momentum by keeping going in circular fashion, making the transition (in direction) "smooth"...

*The constant feel of acceleration remains.
 
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vit

Son Montuno
#3
I'm not sure that it would be a good idea anyway, as because of constant acceleration, mentioned by DH, the follower would eventually fly away ...
 
#5
This is a really good question. For your own sake, the first question I would ask is:
are you not leading that sharp turn correctly or are the follower unable to execute your lead?

One of the biggest problems with "Cuban salsa" dancing in its western form is that it has created this tendency to back step during direction changes rather than to pivot. Followers are often taught to backstep during transitions and leaders are taught to lead a backstep to execute it. Look no further than dile que no for proof of that. Answering that question will help you understand why you're losing that momentum. This lack of understanding of the casino pivot accounts for most of the bad dancing that I see.

If I were you, I'd tackle the issue in this order:
(1) Firstly, consider if are you unbeknownst to you leading a backstep. Maybe you're the one who's causing momentum to be lost. In this case, rather than trying to avoid moves that have this, you need to fix your technique. Find a follower that doesn't lose momentum when she dances with good casineros and dance with her. If it feels like momentum is being lost, you're likely the source of the problem.
(2) Secondly, realize that most beginner/intermediate followers have a tendency to fall off backwards if you're not providing them with direction. You could quite easily address this issue by always proving forward direction after the pivot rather than assuming that she'll move forward after a direction change.
For example:
  • On the 1-2-3 portion of the enchufela where she pivots between 3-5, are you giving her a direction to move to? If you want to do a dileque no, on that 3-5 transition if you begin to pull her towards you right hip, you'll see that she follows. In my opinion, this is proper technique anyway, but advanced followers have this tendency to follow your body language so that they can execute it even if you don't lead it with 100% precision but in my opinion you should be leading to your hip there.
  • This isn't a direction change but think about what happens on the coca-cola, a follower may instinctively step back on the 1 after turning on 6-7 because her momentum is going into the direction you were turning her. She may not automatically adjust to take a forwardstep on 1 to continue the circular patter that casino entails. However, by leading a coca-cola turn with a clear forward and circular direction on 7, you can induce her to step forward on 1. on 1 you're
(3) Lastly, and this is the last ditch resort I use, you could adjust your own body positioning to help minimize that lost momentum. For example:
  • After the follower begins to fall backwards on the enchufela, you can take a step towards her at whatever angle she's falling off on to get into the position for the next move you want to do. It's not graceful to have to adjust yourself to counter the followers' lack of flow but at least it allows me to execute an enchufela (it's really hard to dance without any enchufelas) so I just bite the bullet with dancers who simply cannot not step backwards.
Since diagrams have been popular on this thread, there's one other aspect of technique that I want you to consider about this. In casino, you can lead a direct pivot that's about 180 degrees or guide the followers momentum around in a half-circle for the pivot. I'm not super militant about this, but I generally prefer the rounded pivot precisely because you're able to direct their momentum around an edge rather than trying to slingshot a partner back to where they came from.
This is a really good question. For your own sake, the first question I would ask is:
are you not leading that sharp turn correctly or are the follower unable to execute your lead?

Diagram.jpg
 
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vit

Son Montuno
#6
Correct technique is definitively the right approach, but unfortunately, this works only if you dance only with 1 partner or small number of them at best

Everything you do when dancing gets into your muscle memory. So in venue where people dance with various partners, a kind of average of leading of all partners gets into muscle memory of the follower. So you can give her perfect lead, but her muscle memory is moving her in different direction (backstep being only one of them) causing unpleasant tension between leader and follower. Some followers are able to adjust more/faster, some less/slower, some are willing to do it, some are not, and at the end, you are the bad guy doing things wrong although it's actually everybody else is doing it wrong. If the follower is adjustable, you may be able to "reprogram" her muscle memory within a dance or two, but it doesn't help, because first of next 10 leaders she will be dancing with after that will reprogram her back into old behavior. So you have to go through the same process every time and eventually you whether give up doing that or give up dancing with a number of followers (or they with you)

If things are screwed beyond repair, you can't do much about it
 
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#7
Correct technique is definitively the right approach, but unfortunately, this works only if you dance only with 1 partner or small number of them at best

Everything you do when dancing gets into your muscle memory. So in venue where people dance with various partners, a kind of average of leading of all partners gets into muscle memory of the follower. So you can give her perfect lead, but her muscle memory is moving her in different direction (backstep being only one of them) causing unpleasant tension between leader and follower. Some followers are able to adjust more/faster, some less/slower, some are willing to do it, some are not, and at the end, you are the bad guy doing things wrong although it's actually everybody else is doing it wrong. If the follower is adjustable, you may be able to "reprogram" her muscle memory within a dance or two, but it doesn't help, because first of next 10 leaders she will be dancing with after that will reprogram her back into old behavior. So you have to go through the same process every time and eventually you whether give up doing that or give up dancing with a number of followers (or they with you)

If things are screwed beyond repair, you can't do much about it
If this is the same venue, don't you guys get adjusted to each other over time? Meaning she will dance differently with you than with everyone else. This happens with me even with people I dance 10 times a year.
 

vit

Son Montuno
#8
That's exactly what happens with a number of followers - most adaptation from both sides occur if we dance only a few times a year :p

Will she dance differently with me than with others - yes, she will follow different set of patterns, chemistry will be different, music will be different and some other things. Her balance, timing and musical interpretation, way of moving and other technical things will be pretty much the same and her muscle memory/autopilot will be there (the same leaders) ... here are also differences, that auto pilot has part of the software fixed/burned in, some adaptive, and the ratio between them is different in every dancer, ranging from say 20:80 to 99:1
 
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#9
Short explanation:

I wonder if it is possible to lead the follower with him/her doing as few shard-edged directional changes as possible. For example, I would consider a Dil que no a change of direction. Also every Enchufla can be categorized as a change of direction because the follower is turning at the end.

Do you think it is theoretically possible to lead the follower without stopping the follower's forward momentum at any point (by avoiding any changes of direction concerning the follower)?

Two patterns that could be used and do not contain directional changes are leading the follower on beat 1-8 around my right in a circle. The other is Coca-cola, meaning the follower is walking around the leader leftwards.

I believe it is basically impossible to combine both figures directly after one another without the follower turning in a DLQ because you sadly ;-) can only be in one place at once ... (L = Leader, F = Follower, starting on the right circle)

View attachment 2232

Do you nonetheless think there is a way to not break the continous forward movement of the follower?

Longer explanation:

I am still fascinated by the question of flow/momentum and how to archieve it. I find it very difficult to dance with some beginning follower because they do not change direction fast enough and often pause instead of keeping to walk.

The other night I watched a couple of Casino videos and figured that most momentum is gained when the follower is continously walking forward instead of making directional changes (simply meaning: the follower is turning around). What I mean by that can most easily be obserbed when watching videos of the MCC-"school." Because there are so few direction changes and the follower keeps a continous forward momentum there are hardly an tough breaks to observe, everything flows steadily.

See an example here:


The problem especially with beginners not turning fast enough or stopping could partially be solved by avoiding those changes of direction or using them as few times as possible. I wonder if one could add onto this and even erease any sharp turns of the part of the follower?

I know, that would actually mean to get rid of all Dil que no and Enuchfla at all. Then, it could even be debated if this could still be called Casino (or Salsa).
The video you posted is of dancers trained with MCC - Metodo del Cuadro del Casino. It’s how I learned casino and is a great resource for patterns and their structure and breakdown. Maestro Yoel Marrero (the creator) is extremely methodical in how he breaks everything down. A yearly membership is just $120, it might be worth it if you are curious about casino in this way.
 
#10
An excellent Casino topic :) I will attempt to add some value to it as well... What you initially proposed for examination was the "micro-flow" of Casino, i.e. the changing of directions of an individual over a relatively short period of time. My thoughts:

1. As Casino is primarily a "circling" dance, you can take this concept of "flow" and stretch it over multiple claves (measures), so that your circling is, for example, CW for a while, then the *couple* changes direction, and circles CCW for a while. I think this creates a more authentic and comfortable feel to the dance.

In this prolonged concept of flow, your basic CW building block are all enchufas and vacilalas (incl. sombreros, setentas, etc.) that preserve CW couple rotation, and your basic CCW building blocks are all variations of dile-que-no (cocacolas, pasealas, son-influenced walks...).

2. As someone said, on a micro-level, direction changes can be smoothed out, and the forward momentum perserved by girls pivoting instead of backstepping (which is a natural reaction). Note that aversion to back-stepping should not be taken as a 100% rule - it is perfectly normal for girls to step back (a reasonable amount) during a dile-que-no, when the rotation of the entire couple changes (i.e. flow reversal).

3. All these technical details are of course an attempt to (over)analyze the original dance, but that's alright - we are discovering the gears and plumbing that makes Casino dancers look so intuitively self-confident and smooth - in order for the dance to be taught to look authentic.

Best,
Jan
Cubana Ljubljana
 
#11
Great advice and input, thanks so much you all.

It's only now that I figured what I was really aiming for is to gain "flow" with followers that are not that proficient dancers. There are 10% of folllowers I dance really well with and it's mostly because they pivot instead of stepping back and the dance gains momentum while doing so. With the other 90% it's okay but not that much fun because there does not seem to be the correct foundation (might be my leading, I cannot tell yet).

I am not sure if there is a way to "force" the follower to avoid any backstepping, besides trying to focus on leading forward most of the time (tough to avoid a dil que no ;-)). As @khabibul35 said the key might be becoming a more proficient leader and being especially careful not to lead a backstep. @vit What you mentioned could be true, I am not sure this situation will ever change as long as people dance such a variety of styles, even as part of the bracket of Cuban salsa. Guess it's not only other leaders but many followers I know never took proper dance classes and thus never become aware of how crucial the pivoting instead of backstepping really is, for example.


  • On the 1-2-3 portion of the enchufela where she pivots between 3-5, are you giving her a direction to move to? If you want to do a dileque no, on that 3-5 transition if you begin to pull her towards you right hip, you'll see that she follows. In my opinion, this is proper technique anyway, but advanced followers have this tendency to follow your body language so that they can execute it even if you don't lead it with 100% precision but in my opinion you should be leading to your hip there.
Such a great answer! Just not exactly sure that I can follow you here. Isn't the problem rather the backstep on 1 when I pulled her towards my right hip but she still steps back after the pause? (I am taking a small step forward for the dil que no usually). Any video examples where the dance shows the proper technique you are talking about?

In this prolonged concept of flow, your basic CW building block are all enchufas and vacilalas (incl. sombreros, setentas, etc.) that preserve CW couple rotation, and your basic CCW building blocks are all variations of dile-que-no (cocacolas, pasealas, son-influenced walks...).

2. As someone said, on a micro-level, direction changes can be smoothed out, and the forward momentum perserved by girls pivoting instead of backstepping (which is a natural reaction).
Thanks Papi! Any possibility you can lay out to lead the girl into a pivot instead of stepping back? Also: Would you have any visual material to provide where it's explained how to do an enchufla or sombrero more in the circle of the Casino-style? I am still quite following a straight line when starting an enchufla (more LA style influenced, sadly).
 
#12
Such a great answer! Just not exactly sure that I can follow you here. Isn't the problem rather the backstep on 1 when I pulled her towards my right hip but she still steps back after the pause? (I am taking a small step forward for the dil que no usually). Any video examples where the dance shows the proper technique you are talking about?
You're right, the backstep on 1 is definitely a problem, since she then she has to take a huge step forward on 2 if she wants to then pivot on 3. In this case the most likely outcome won't be a pivot on 3 but rather her planting her foot on 3 to do a backstep on 5. That backstep right there is the momentum killer.

Now you probably can't avoid it if the follower has had that automatic backstep ingrained into her dancing. However, you'd be surprised as to how flexible a follower can be if you trap her body position in such a way that a backstep would override your direction.

As Papi mentioned, natural physics of travel dictates that your momentum at the point of a direction change is going backwards. Instinctively people stabilize themselves by stepping backwards here, rather than pivoting and counteracting the momentum by stepping in the opposite direction. That is something you have to learn to do, but very few teachers actually teach this as being the goal in casino. Short of lecturing the follower, what you can do is pull in the direction you want the follower to travel on 3-4 so that a 5 backwards makes no sense and unless the follower is truly forcing a backstep, you'll see that momentum begins flowing the other way.

As a point of evidence, I'm currently living in Kampala, where casino is a horrible mix of linear dance with a few casino moves like enchufela and guapea and every move is taught to have a backstep. Yet, I can routinely get followers to step forward on 1 out of gauapea for an enchufela and to a smaller degree, I can get them to pivot and walk back for enchufela doble rather than to back step. The key is to provide direction before they take a backstep. Like I said, the key is to begin providing direction contrary to the backstep before 5 so that the followers are facing where you want them to go at the start of 5.

Here are a few videos that demonstrate...
Video 1:

Look at this lead, he's reacting to her body weight. She steps back on 1 and then he reacts to her backward momentum to pull her forward on 2. She plants on 3 and steps back on 5 and he reacts to the backstep by flinging her back with his right hand to where she came from on 5. By not using his body position or his left hand, he's missing any chance to direct her momentum before she steps back. Reacting to a followers momentum change creates a loss of momentum and is poor technique.

Video 2:

Much better here. You can see the leaders are being proactive, and don't create a situation where the follower steps back on 5. The right hand is there on 3 to stop on the return promenade. But the best thing here is what happens on the second set of 3, you can see the left hand is pulling her to the hip 3-5 before they do the dame. She knows exactly where she will be traveling come that 5 and it creates a super smooth transition.

Video 3:

Proper technique right here, he doesn't even need his right hand. Sure, it's nice to add, but the backstep can easily be avoided on the echufla doble by ending the pivot for a reverse promenade with the left hand. The pivot comes on 3-4-5. However, by 5, she already has the pull for where she's going. For the first enchufla, by 5, she knows she's going back to where she came from and for the second, by 5, she knows she's traveling towards his right hip for a dile que no.

Now, an experienced follow, one of those 10% you mentioned, probably already adjusts her direction of travel due to her being programmed to pivot and wait - without actually needing a pull in any direction after the pivot. She's relaxed and patient enough to react on short notice and can read body language well enough to where she doesn't even need a direction from your hands for most moves. The other 90% will continue the direction of travel until you guide them otherwise, and most likely they will step backwards until you do provide direction. The good news here is that about half of these remaining follows will react to a proactive lead, one which gives them direction before their momentum leads them into a backstep. Some probably will never get it and step backwards regardless of what you lead. Yet, for many it's a question of technique and I think if you do it right, you'll see more than 50% of your dances will gain that flow that you felt was missing.

Hope this has helped and best of luck!
 
#13
The simple answer to the problem of back breaks, is this : teach " them " to mark time . A techn, that is usually ignored, kinda odd cos its a basic concept in " dance " .
 
#14
Great advice and input, thanks so much you all.

Thanks Papi! Any possibility you can lay out to lead the girl into a pivot instead of stepping back? Also: Would you have any visual material to provide where it's explained how to do an enchufla or sombrero more in the circle of the Casino-style? I am still quite following a straight line when starting an enchufla (more LA style influenced, sadly).
It is often possible to lead (or, "help") positively to prevent some of the biggest issues - such as the follower's backstep on 5 when you dance enchufa-to-dile-que-no, making your Casino look like disco-fox This is caused by the centrifugal force pushing the follower backwards - you can counter it by pulling the girl towards yourself (towards your right hip for dile-que-no) on 4, which makes her step in place (or forward) on 5.

When you are in a longer flow, dancing around each other, it is very difficult, mostly impossible, to prevent it if the follower is not aware of what she "should" be doing.

For your enchufas, imagine you are moving in an aggressive arc around your follower - try using the pa'ti pa'mi pattern as an extension of enchufas to get used to the circling.

Best,
Jan
Cubana Ljubljana
 
#15
Ok, first of all I apologize for my poor English, but the topic is too interesting for me so I have to put some thoughts on it :) I tried also to solve this problem but more intuitively.

1) I feel your question is also about music. For example, if I hear a nice track from Habana Primera, which I like very much (even for dancers), I feel music in "phrases". One "phrase" (tumbaos?) Usually takes 3-6 (my estimate) a total of 8 bars. When one phrase is broken to another, it is a good time to change the direction of the flow or the move or end the move of go to the closed position. BY THE WAY. that's why we're boring with salsa linea music or why we hate salsa remixes on pop; there are not many "phrases" and the music based on our feeling is almost the same.
What is really fun when I'm dancing a lot (five weeks) my brain can predict the end of the phrases even on the new tracks

To be honest, I'm not a musicologist, so please don't take me wrong

2) Causa backstep - I suppose a lot of people are doing backstep because the first steps and turns and they learned on were mambo (yes mambo in the casino :) step and enchufa. And it's really hard to make an enchufa from a static position or from a mambo step (and since they are beginners, they do not have a solid developed core) without a backstep. So what I'm trying to do is avoid doing the enchufa on the start of the phrase where your body and your partner's body usually are relaxed. There are plenty of options to start a phrase; setenta, pasos, prima, vacilala, etc. In this case, your partner goes forward because the impulse for movement is naturally drawn. Enchufa can be danced as a complement to other turns or in the middle of a phrase where you and your partner are usually in a dynamic movement.

As i said: dont take me wrong, it's just some part of my dancing style it's not a dogma.

Enjoy your dancing
 
#16
You're right, the backstep on 1 is definitely a problem, since she then she has to take a huge step forward on 2 if she wants to then pivot on 3. In this case the most likely outcome won't be a pivot on 3 but rather her planting her foot on 3 to do a backstep on 5. That backstep right there is the momentum killer.

Now you probably can't avoid it if the follower has had that automatic backstep ingrained into her dancing. However, you'd be surprised as to how flexible a follower can be if you trap her body position in such a way that a backstep would override your direction.

As Papi mentioned, natural physics of travel dictates that your momentum at the point of a direction change is going backwards. Instinctively people stabilize themselves by stepping backwards here, rather than pivoting and counteracting the momentum by stepping in the opposite direction. That is something you have to learn to do, but very few teachers actually teach this as being the goal in casino. Short of lecturing the follower, what you can do is pull in the direction you want the follower to travel on 3-4 so that a 5 backwards makes no sense and unless the follower is truly forcing a backstep, you'll see that momentum begins flowing the other way.

As a point of evidence, I'm currently living in Kampala, where casino is a horrible mix of linear dance with a few casino moves like enchufela and guapea and every move is taught to have a backstep. Yet, I can routinely get followers to step forward on 1 out of gauapea for an enchufela and to a smaller degree, I can get them to pivot and walk back for enchufela doble rather than to back step. The key is to provide direction before they take a backstep. Like I said, the key is to begin providing direction contrary to the backstep before 5 so that the followers are facing where you want them to go at the start of 5.

Here are a few videos that demonstrate...
Video 1:

Look at this lead, he's reacting to her body weight. She steps back on 1 and then he reacts to her backward momentum to pull her forward on 2. She plants on 3 and steps back on 5 and he reacts to the backstep by flinging her back with his right hand to where she came from on 5. By not using his body position or his left hand, he's missing any chance to direct her momentum before she steps back. Reacting to a followers momentum change creates a loss of momentum and is poor technique.

Video 2:

Much better here. You can see the leaders are being proactive, and don't create a situation where the follower steps back on 5. The right hand is there on 3 to stop on the return promenade. But the best thing here is what happens on the second set of 3, you can see the left hand is pulling her to the hip 3-5 before they do the dame. She knows exactly where she will be traveling come that 5 and it creates a super smooth transition.

Video 3:

Proper technique right here, he doesn't even need his right hand. Sure, it's nice to add, but the backstep can easily be avoided on the echufla doble by ending the pivot for a reverse promenade with the left hand. The pivot comes on 3-4-5. However, by 5, she already has the pull for where she's going. For the first enchufla, by 5, she knows she's going back to where she came from and for the second, by 5, she knows she's traveling towards his right hip for a dile que no.

Now, an experienced follow, one of those 10% you mentioned, probably already adjusts her direction of travel due to her being programmed to pivot and wait - without actually needing a pull in any direction after the pivot. She's relaxed and patient enough to react on short notice and can read body language well enough to where she doesn't even need a direction from your hands for most moves. The other 90% will continue the direction of travel until you guide them otherwise, and most likely they will step backwards until you do provide direction. The good news here is that about half of these remaining follows will react to a proactive lead, one which gives them direction before their momentum leads them into a backstep. Some probably will never get it and step backwards regardless of what you lead. Yet, for many it's a question of technique and I think if you do it right, you'll see more than 50% of your dances will gain that flow that you felt was missing.

Hope this has helped and best of luck!
Just to point out that the third video @khabibul35 shared as an example are of Adrian Valdivia and Amanda Gill of DC Casineros who have been fully trained with and implement MCC - Casino Para Todos methods in their school and their teaching.

And he is right that the back step does not serve a follower well in casino. It’s not to say some Cubans don’t do it but its much more efficient not to, which I think is quite well demonstrated in the videos @khabibul35 showed us here.
 

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