Silence or lack of leadership in salsa dancing community?

#62
Let me start with where I agree:

- yes discussions on SF do count. But how many if us are here actively discussing. 20, 30?
SF is an accumulation of contributions over the years. It doesn't matter how many are active right now. There have been and will (hopefully) be many more with significant contribution. We don't know exactly how many are lurking but the important thing is that the ones who want to know can find this place. And if those happen to be influencers in their local scene, then the knowledge can propagate.

- leader as in a captain of ship is very different from leadership. There was once a beautiful article (I think it was from HBR) that was sent to me by a professor in Stanford. I forwarded it to my whole team. It articulated very well that leadership can be demonstrated by anyone in the team, irrespective of their position in the company heirarchy. Second excellent point it made was to not equate managerial positions with leadership.
I am talking of knowledge leadership as an influence, not an authority or management. I thought this was what you meant too, am I right?

I agree that ET of FM can influence a lot. In one on one settings they are excellent. Even in small in person group discussions. But I also contend that it is not enough. It is not enough because it doesn't scale. It doesn't scale and it doesn't reach those that need to hear it most - the beginners, the newcomers, etc. All that is being passed on to newcomers is perceived importance if patterns.
I mentioned ET as somebody who had a lot of influence in the past, for a part of the scene which at that time was fairly small and localized. By setting the tone, training the best dancers, which propagates his curriculum, etc. Those times are now gone. Neither he nor any of his students are now in such a position.

- salsa is not more diverse than any other art form. Take any art form and there are a number of different schools of thought and differences. No art form is immune to that. Old school vs new school and other arguments take place in other art forms too. But in the other art forms often there is a scholarship, an intellectual rigor, answers resulting from intellectual curiosity, which are not only debated and argued but also widely available to newcomers and veterans alike.
So, what would be an example from another social dance - WCS or AT, maybe? What is the kind of scholarly approach that you would consider a good example for salsa?

- attracting different crowds is besides the point. What about those that stick through, take it up and see still dancing a year or two later?
Sticking around means that they find positive reinforcement for keeping on dancing. It doesn't mean that they necessarily want to put any more effort in it. Very few people get obsessed with learning and improving. Most just want to have fun, meet new people, maybe find a partner, unwind after work and so on. For many this was the initial reason to start and remains why they keep coming back.
 
#63
SF is an accumulation of contributions over the years. It doesn't matter how many are active right now. There have been and will (hopefully) be many more with significant contribution. We don't know exactly how many are lurking but the important thing is that the ones who want to know can find this place. And if those happen to be influencers in their local scene, then the knowledge can propagate.
True and my indirect question was how come we don't see any contributions from those that make living out of salsa. Preferably on SF but also on any other similar platform (though if one existed we would know it). The so called professionals who rightly or wrongly wield most influence.

I am talking of knowledge leadership as an influence, not an authority or management. I thought this was what you meant too, am I right?
Yes.

I mentioned ET as somebody who had a lot of influence in the past, for a part of the scene which at that time was fairly small and localized. By setting the tone, training the best dancers, which propagates his curriculum, etc. Those times are now gone. Neither he nor any of his students are now in such a position.
Some of the existing big names come from his stable. The scene has become much bigger now and spread wide. But it has spread more like how the weeds spread.

So, what would be an example from another social dance - WCS or AT, maybe? What is the kind of scholarly approach that you would consider a good example for salsa?
Salsa - one example is the way FM approaches it and has fused elements of afrofunk and other dances. He is also an example of dancer who refused to perform for free when many of the stars were willing to do that. He has a well developed view and philosophy of dancing. The unfortunate part is very few know about it. More unfortunate is that he hasn't created any platform to magnify and make it reach to wider audience. Salsa has a few islands of excellence like that and the rest are just weeds growing anywhere there is a space. Another example - how much collaboration do you see in salsa among its practioners? Hardly any. Performing is not same as collaborations, yet even there you will see same couples performing year after year. Compare that with music, including salsa music. People collaborate all the time and the music grows richer. There are others like FM (his peers) who have individually tried to take similar scholarly approach to salsa dancing but could not persevere.

WCS - It is consider state dance of California. It is fairly well organized. It is perhaps closest to eglaterianism in dancing. It is organizationally top down. Yet the tone and its development is more grass roots and bottoms up. It has less of performances. But it's top stars regularly participate in professional Jack and Jill competitions and similar events. Any star is paired with any other star. Men participating competitively as followers and women in leaders role is fairly common. Most stars in WCS are fairly competent in both roles. If you choose to (and many do), you move through levels ranging from novice, beginners, intermediate, advance, masters, etc. You are independent evaluated through numerous jack and Jill competitions. You simply can't coreograph your way through these levels. These are open competitions are open and anyone can enter. You are judged infront of audience consisting of other social dancers - there can be anywhere from 20 to 50 couples competing with you. That leads to an average WCS dancer being more skilled musically and technically than average salsa dancer. The growth of WCs and its health is managed like a team of gardeners would manage flourishing of gardens. There is intense debate that goes on. I am not saying salsa should follow this example. But the leadership aspect in west coast swing is very visible at all levels. In some ways WCS is ballroom meets salsa. It fuses best elements of BR (organizational) and Salsa (social, improvisation, non codified, etc). It has a wide age range. A lot of younger people in early twenties to a lot of 60+ crowd.

Tango - It is has a very rich history and tradition. Both musically and dancing. Even after dancing for ten years at very high level, people continue to invest in learning. Unlike salsa you will find many blogs by tango dancers. Ninety percent of tango dancers will make pilgrimage to BA. Most who take it up don't seem to ever quit it. No matter where you are in the world, you will have opportunity to take workshops and lessons from old and young masters of the dance regularly. If you talk about leadership and influence, look no further than tango. Poor skills and mediocrity is simply not rewarded. Everyone has to pay their dues. Tango is all about conversation. That conversation is always taking place whether within the dance or without. Tango has invented the concept of marathons and multiple kinds of festivals, where a lot of conversation takes place. Younger masters have made it technically and aesthetically better. A lot of knowledge is passed verbally in Tango. Yet it is accessible to almost every tango dancer. An average tango dancer has DJ level of understanding of Tango Music, its rhythms, the Orchestras, etc. Every tango DJ is a good tango dancer (almost universally true).

In short average salsa dancer has poor knowledge of salsa music, less musicality, less technique, lacks historical awareness of the dance, poor instructions compared to WCS and Tango. Musically salsa is the richest and more complex than either of the two. But salsa dancers lack pride in the music that tango dancers possess. Like Salsa there are lot of debates and arguments about styles and music in both WCS and Tango.

Sticking around means that they find positive reinforcement for keeping on dancing. It doesn't mean that they necessarily want to put any more effort in it. Very few people get obsessed with learning and improving. Most just want to have fun, meet new people, maybe find a partner, unwind after work and so on. For many this was the initial reason to start and remains why they keep coming back.
All of above is as much true in other dances too. I know friends who take up flamenco and belly dancing for the same reasons as above. Isn't one of the main aspects of leadership is to provide positive reinforcement. I know people who run for fun to unwind and there are running groups that provide the social aspect.
 
#64
Tango - It is has a very rich history and tradition. Both musically and dancing. Even after dancing for ten years at very high level, people continue to invest in learning. Unlike salsa you will find many blogs by tango dancers. Ninety percent of tango dancers will make pilgrimage to BA. Most who take it up don't seem to ever quit it. No matter where you are in the world, you will have opportunity to take workshops and lessons from old and young masters of the dance regularly. If you talk about leadership and influence, look no further than tango. Poor skills and mediocrity is simply not rewarded. Everyone has to pay their dues.
I don't think Salsa is meant or was ever meant to be like that. Tango is more formal than Salsa and even so. Tango was not initially like that either, this extreme formalization and structured happened outside their place of origin, meaning this ballroomish/dance sport aspect was something added to it and not by the creators. Who knows maybe swing and Paso doble were like that too?

I see it like Chinese inventing powder for fireworks, then Europeans grab it and make it into weapons.

Or people working out to be healthy, then others change it into something unhealthy and unrealistic like bodybuilding.


That's how I see latin popular music (salsa, bachata, ballenato, Cumbia, merengue, Son, Tango and others) is something to be enjoyed at the level you want without caring what others do or say.

I have taken 3 ballroom courses and it totally makes me laugh when they teach Salsa in those. They add formality and lack flavor, like if it getting you ready for a party of
nobels in sort of palace where the king will be there and Cinderella will go to lose her shoe.
 

vit

Son Montuno
#65
I don't think Salsa is meant or was ever meant to be like that. Tango is more formal than Salsa and even so. Tango was not initially like that either, this extreme formalization and structured happened outside their place of origin, meaning this ballroomish/dance sport aspect was something added to it and not by the creators.
There is BR /competitive version of tango (actually 2 versions - international and american) and there is Argentine tango which is closer to origins and attracts different people. However, as far as I know, even original version has structured way of teaching that developed through decades. And there are alternative teaching methods like tango nuevo etc ... Terence can surely tell much more about it, as I don't dance AT
 
#66
there is Argentine tango which is closer to origins and attracts different people. However, as far as I know, even original version has structured way of teaching that developed through decades.
Yes, it is very structured and the style within the genre ,like salsa, have their own devotee's . Even the music differs for certain styles altho the differences to the untrained ear may sound the same .

The American style has several variations that are common to T/Arg. The BR style has little or no comparison .And again, the music styles are different, particularly tempo .
 
#67
I don't think Salsa is meant or was ever meant to be like that. Tango is more formal than Salsa and even so. Tango was not initially like that either, this extreme formalization and structured happened outside their place of origin, meaning this ballroomish/dance sport aspect was something added to it and not by the creators. Who knows maybe swing and Paso doble were like that too?.
More formal and more structure and dance sport? I am not sure what tango you are talking about or if you even know what it's history is.
 
#69
What is very structured? Which aspects of Tango are you referring to?
In All 3 styles,.. there are basic foundation movements in each, and are pretty much established in their different genres .The names sometimes are changed but the steps are virtually identical ( for one ex.. Ochos and fans )

In matter of fact, the "walk " is common to each even tho some technical aspects are different, the objective ) progression " is the same, and the same applies to promenade positions. I could go on, but there are too many replicas, that are pretty standardised.

The "free" form in each if it exists, does not come into play until more advanced levels .
Dance Sport is only the competitive name used for isolating the competitive style. Other than that, it's just BR style. All styles if danced correctly, do have a different appearance and yet do retain the characteristics of the original form
 
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#70
I admit that salsa being less strict in terms of technique being taught attracted me to it. It was incredibly fun moving up the ranks in salsa yet still knowing absolutely nothing. This allowed me to take my newly minted skills to other environments like nightclubs, discos and weddings. My inner exhibitionist needed some outlet to be on display and salsa was the easiest route to get there. In general, you will wow more people with your On1 theatrics than with your 5 years of learning how to walk in AT.

Once you become better is when it gets tricky. It takes pure drive to improve to a high level and i feel the top salsa dancers seek to innovate rather than attaining perfect technique. However, more focus needs to be put on proper leading/following technique for social dancing... something i wished salsa influencers pushed more of rather than pushing performing or competing.
 
#72
[QUOTE="Chris_Yannick, post: 334852, member: 56005
However, more focus needs to be put on proper leading/following technique for social dancing...

something i wished salsa influencers pushed more of rather than pushing performing or competing.[/QUOTE]

If only !!
 
#74
More formal and more structure and dance sport? I am not sure what tango you are talking about or if you even know what it's history is.
Tango nowadays is more like that.


for instance Merengue, Bachata, Cumbia are way less structured than Tango.


For instance, the video below is from the 1950's of how Merengue was danced in government official events. this is called Merengue de Salón. pretty much is danced with very little turns or imorovisations since the dictator was not making a rural or street informal or obsene party. If You had been too sensual or sexy. most likely you would end up in jail.

The band was a full orchestra.

the dance is very structured, formal etc. I can picture those people trying to do what OP is calling on the first post.

However, Merengue was never meant to be like that. Still remnants of this can be found in events related to the army.



this fania all stars in 1974. can you imagine people putting structure on this?

 
#77
QUOTE="vit, post: 334872, member: 184738"]A choreographed dance scene from a movie taken '98 isn't really a historical evidence of dance being "structured" or not[/QUOTE]

sorry I'm not reffering much to the dance itself.

if you listen to the conversation and pay attention to the context. you will understand.

In summary, she dances differently, she uses counting, body motion, dancing terms, concepts that he is not familiar with.

He wants to dance with her but he can't due to her formality and structure. Due to it, she thinks he can't dance and that's the end of it.

However, he can dance and proves it with the next lady. Something that confuses and annoys the previous lady.

we can argue the issue was about On1 or On 2 or Casino, etc but in reality she is very structured. This is her ballroom thingy.

for instance this is another example about "not being structured" when they expect you to be.

 

vit

Son Montuno
#78
Yeah ... he said that he was attending ballet classes in Cuba ... and later, she learns to follow casino dancers in a matter of minutes ... it's a fictional story, could be pretty much anything
 
#79
Yeah ... he said that he was attending ballet classes in Cuba ... and later, she learns to follow casino dancers in a matter of minutes ... it's a fictional story, could be pretty much anything
last ditch effort lol

Karate is structured. Boxing is not as much.

judo is structured. BJJ is not as much.
 
#80
True and my indirect question was how come we don't see any contributions from those that make living out of salsa. Preferably on SF but also on any other similar platform (though if one existed we would know it). The so called professionals who rightly or wrongly wield most influence.
Participating here takes a lot of time and energy. And there is not much personal benefit. Going into a discussion on SF drags you into endless debates with people with huge range of opinions and background and lots of time on their hands :) I myself withdrew for awhile and also now I don't participate in most discussions just because I know I cannot keep up. For a salsa professional it is much more rewarding to make videos like Magna or others we've seen recently on specific topics - these videos get shared and discussed but always point back to the creator.

WCS - It is consider state dance of California. It is fairly well organized. It is perhaps closest to eglaterianism in dancing. It is organizationally top down. Yet the tone and its development is more grass roots and bottoms up. It has less of performances. But it's top stars regularly participate in professional Jack and Jill competitions and similar events. Any star is paired with any other star. Men participating competitively as followers and women in leaders role is fairly common. Most stars in WCS are fairly competent in both roles. If you choose to (and many do), you move through levels ranging from novice, beginners, intermediate, advance, masters, etc. You are independent evaluated through numerous jack and Jill competitions. You simply can't coreograph your way through these levels. These are open competitions are open and anyone can enter. You are judged infront of audience consisting of other social dancers - there can be anywhere from 20 to 50 couples competing with you. That leads to an average WCS dancer being more skilled musically and technically than average salsa dancer. The growth of WCs and its health is managed like a team of gardeners would manage flourishing of gardens. There is intense debate that goes on. I am not saying salsa should follow this example. But the leadership aspect in west coast swing is very visible at all levels. In some ways WCS is ballroom meets salsa. It fuses best elements of BR (organizational) and Salsa (social, improvisation, non codified, etc). It has a wide age range. A lot of younger people in early twenties to a lot of 60+ crowd.

Tango - It is has a very rich history and tradition. Both musically and dancing. Even after dancing for ten years at very high level, people continue to invest in learning. Unlike salsa you will find many blogs by tango dancers. Ninety percent of tango dancers will make pilgrimage to BA. Most who take it up don't seem to ever quit it. No matter where you are in the world, you will have opportunity to take workshops and lessons from old and young masters of the dance regularly. If you talk about leadership and influence, look no further than tango. Poor skills and mediocrity is simply not rewarded. Everyone has to pay their dues. Tango is all about conversation. That conversation is always taking place whether within the dance or without. Tango has invented the concept of marathons and multiple kinds of festivals, where a lot of conversation takes place. Younger masters have made it technically and aesthetically better. A lot of knowledge is passed verbally in Tango. Yet it is accessible to almost every tango dancer. An average tango dancer has DJ level of understanding of Tango Music, its rhythms, the Orchestras, etc. Every tango DJ is a good tango dancer (almost universally true).

In short average salsa dancer has poor knowledge of salsa music, less musicality, less technique, lacks historical awareness of the dance, poor instructions compared to WCS and Tango. Musically salsa is the richest and more complex than either of the two. But salsa dancers lack pride in the music that tango dancers possess. Like Salsa there are lot of debates and arguments about styles and music in both WCS and Tango.



All of above is as much true in other dances too. I know friends who take up flamenco and belly dancing for the same reasons as above. Isn't one of the main aspects of leadership is to provide positive reinforcement. I know people who run for fun to unwind and there are running groups that provide the social aspect.
What I think salsa has different to all those other dances is the diversity in almost every aspect. Many groups have contributed to its development and argue over its ownership (musically and dance-wise). Many styles have separated and then mixed again. It has spread much more than any other dance. It might for example have the same number of people passionate about the music as in AT but many more dancers globally. It also has sister-dances that travel with it and add to the diversity of salsa population. If you go to a milonga you will never hear a kizomba or merengue (I assume).

With this in mind, how can we expect the average dancer to have a clear picture of the history of salsa as there simply is no such picture and no consensus over where it comes from. Look at all the discussions we've had on it. There isn't a single focal point like BA for AT.

The music is so complex that dancers spend months trying to learn to hear the 1. This is not the case in either WCS, or AT. Add to that the other music that you hear at salsa parties and you have lost beginners trying to dance salsa to bachata and whatnot. It can take many years to develop real appreciation and understanding of the music.

As for the lack of technique, I see a clear resistance to making the teaching too technical both to not scare the beginners and to not turn the dance into some sort of ballroom offshoot. Which gives the impression that anybody can teach (with or without the necessary knowledge). And this closes the loop. In AT you can spend a whole course basically learning to walk. This already weeds out those who have a more casual interest. Those who remain tend to stay for the long run and invest a lot more effort in learning than the average salsa dancer.
 

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