Down the Docks

March 14, 2006

The Basics

Filed under: Salsa — ealing @ 1:51 pm

I recently read an article describing the importance of the basics in many fields. The first thing I read about it was Tom Kyte’s raving about the idea and its relation to databases. It strikes a chord, though, when I think about dancing.

As with any chap taking up salsa, I went through a long obsession with turn patterns. It took me a while to realise that there are plenty of people who look good and dance well without having huge number of turn patterns.

As far as I can see, the foundations of good social salsa are, in order, these:

  1. Solid rhythm
  2. Good basic movement and footwork
  3. Connection with your partner
  4. Understanding of lead and follow
  5. Musicality
  6. Styling, during partnerwork or in open position
  7. Interesting turn patterns

Turn patterns get more attention that pretty much everything else combined, at least after beginners’ classes. I guess this is partly because, as the largest and most visible movements of a dancing couple, they attract the most attention and are easiest to appreciate.

Despite last night’s unusual blips, I think I have the rhythm thing down. My connection is improving, but it’s only a few months ago (after several years of dancing) that I mad a conscious effort always to smile. Of course I’d been having fun all these years, but the news hadn’t always made it to my face.

My footwork lacks in precision, which probably leads to a lot of partnerwork problems and a slightly sloppy feel. I think I know how to tackle it, but it may take some time.

Following has certainly increased my understanding of the mechanics of lead and follow. Generally I think I’m alright in this area.

My musicality is not too bad either, I think. Listening to salsa almost to the exclusion of everything else certainly helps (right now I’m listening to Asia Minor by Machito), and I think taking up the conga will move things along as well.

As for styling, I console myself with the thoughts that things can only get better, and when they do, my turn patterns will look much better.

So in body movement, footwork and styling, I’ve arrived at a state of conscious incompetence, which is of course a big improvement on unconscious incompetence.

What would be really horrendous, though, is if there was something I’d missed becasue I was still unconsciously incompetent.

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