Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Leading Heel Turns

Man leading heel turn:
  • It is very common for the lady to feel like the man is knocking her over. This is because he is turning his body too soon.
  • If he is pulling her down on the third step, it is because he did not brush his feet and collect his weight before taking his next step.
  • The man has to step around the lady, who has finite radius, before he turns her.
  • Early rise: some coaches say Man leads heel turn by rising early - though the ISTD Ballroom Technique has no mention of early rise. It is still "rise e/o 1".
  • More consistent with ISTD Ballroom technique, and recommended by other coaches, the man leads the heel turn by leading the lady to put her weight on her heels.
When dancing, think about actions, rather than figures, such as Natural Spin Turn action, or Feather action, as the figures are composed of actions, and the actions should feel similar across the different figures that use them.

More about Standard Technique.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Difference Kinds of Salsa, On1, On2, etc.

This is addressed to salsa beginners. You will hear about Salsa On 1, Salsa On 2, Mambo, LA Style Salsa, NY Style, Miami Style. This is intended not to be an extensive treatise on the differences, but just an introduction to give you the minimum information necessary to avoid confusion when you hear these terms.

The basic step, for most of these variations, is as follows for the leader:
  1. Step forward with the left foot, keeping RF in place. (forward break)
  2. Change weight back to right foot, keeping LF in place
  3. Bring left foot back next to right foot to a neutral position
  4. Step back with RF, keeping LF in place (back break)
  5. Change weight back to LF, keeping RF in place.
  6. Bring RF next to LF. (neutral position)
The other piece we need for this discussion is music and timing. Salsa music has four beats to the measure, and a phrase lasts two measures. The single most important rhythm in Salsa is the clave rhythm. If we consider an 8 beat phrase, the clave hits on 2, 3, 5, 6 1/2, and 8. The clave as an instrument is a pair of wooden sticks hitting each other. You can hear the clave and other important salsa rhythms broken down in this video. There is often no explicit clave being played in the music, but clave is the rhythmic anchor of salsa, and the other rhythms will build around that. It's a good idea to get some salsa music and practice counting out the beats on different songs.

So, now that we've introduced the basic steps, and a little about the music, we can talk about these different kinds of Salsa. When we hear Mambo mentioned in the US, we usually refer to the partner dance forms. If we combine steps with beats, in Mambo the first step happens on beat 2, and we step on beats 2 3 4 6 7 8. We hold, kick, or tap on beats 1 and 5. This is the Mambo basic.

Mambo and Salsa have stylistic differences, they are somewhat different dances, but the basic step looks the same. Salsa On 1 uses this same basic, but now we step on beats 1 2 3 5 6 7, and hold, kick, or tap on beats 4 and 8. Salsa On 2 uses the same timing for the basic as Mambo does.

Some of the different styles of Salsa in the US include Los Angeles style, Miami style, and New York style. LA and Miami style are danced on 1, and as far as we know are the prevalent dance styles in the US.

NY style is a bit different than mambo, on 1, and on 2. In NY salsa, rather than the hold coming in the neutral position, it becomes an 'air' step. In the above steps, we do step (iii) on beat 1, and proceed to step on beats 1 2 3 5 6 7, with the foot 'in transit' on beats 4 and 8. So, while the steps still happen on 123567, the breaks are on 2 and 6, making NY salsa an On2 salsa.

There is also the notion of dancing 'on clave' or 'en clave' if you want to be strict about it. This means that you break on the clave beat. (It can also mean doing five steps per phrase, but that is pretty advanced stuff.) Typically, this will mean breaking on 2, but can mean breaking on 2 1/2 (6 1/2), adding a further syncopation to the dance.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Foxtrot Natural Turn, Natural Weave, and Hover Cross

The Foxtrot Natural Turn, Natural Weave, and Hover Cross have the same steps for the first two steps, and it is after that they differentiate. For the leader,
  • Step 1: RF forward, with CBM
  • Step 2: LF forward, and then when transferring weight, turn hips
  • Brush RF to LF before taking next step on RF.
  • On Natural Turn, after turning feet and hips to face may partner on step 2, hips and shoulders stay flat, as  lady steps between leader's feet.
  • On Natural Weave, on third step turn shoulders and ribs right, to lead lady outside partner
  • On Hover Cross, on third step turn both shoulders and hips to allow lady to pass.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Latin: ribcage isolation exercises

    Keep hips still and only move ribcage. (To help to make sure hips don't move, the exercise can also be done when sitting on the edge of the chair.)
    • arms:
      • R arm reach to floor on the side (make sure chest don't collapse forward or bend backward)
      • repeat for L arm
      • R arm reach up above head on the side
      • repeat for L arm
    • ribcage: Left, Right (with arms extends to both sides)
    • ribcage: Left with L shoulder diagonally up, Right with Right shoulder diagonally up
    • ribcage: Front, Back
    • ribcage: Front, stop middle, Back, stop middle, Front (repeat)
    • ribcage: L, F, R, B - separate distinct positions first, then smooth circular movement
    • ribcage: L, B, R, F - separate distinct positions first, then smooth circular movement
    Keep upper body still and only move hips:
    • Hip to left and right side: first slow, then faster
    • Hip: Left, Front, Right, Back; then, Left Back, Right, Front; (first stop at distinct point, then try circular continuous movement)

    International Samba: Boto Fogo technique

    Samba Traveling Boto Fogo technique break down:

    Going forward (diagonal)
    • "&": pendulum action forward. bounce, lift heel. There should be a moment when both heels are off the floor.
    • "a": hip rotation to step the other foot forward, emphasize hip rotation. Ribs, shoulders move less.
    • "1": step front foot, back leg straight, hip turn out. swivel back foot, break ankle. The heel of the front foot should drop to floor.
    • "&": pendulum action forward, raise the heel of front foot, it is not flat-footed movement.
    • "a": hip rotation to step other foot forward, in the same direction as the motion (not to the side), place partial weight, then hips turn 90 degrees.
    • "1": step the other foot. back foot is turned out, break ankle.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    ISTD Waltz Syllabus: descriptions, step by step diagrams, videos

    There has been a lot of updates on the website! For the International Waltz Newcomer and Bronze Syllabus figures listed below, in addition to timing, step by step descriptions, alignment, footwork, technique notes, we've also added step-by-step diagrams, including all the official variations, preceding and following figures and instructional videos that demonstrated the patterns.

    Newcomer level:
    1. Closed Changes
    2. Natural Turn
    3. Reverse Turn
    4. Natural Spin Turn
    5. Whisk
    6. Chasse from Promenade Position
    Bronze level:
    1. Closed Impetus
    2. Hesitation Change
    3. Outside Change
    4. Reverse Corté
    5. Back Whisk
    6. Basic Weave
    7. Double Reverse Spin
    8. Reverse Pivot
    9. Back Lock
    10. Progressive Chassé to R
    Happy Dancing!

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Standard Technique: CBM versus CBMP

    CBM, or Contra-body Movement, is a rotation of the body. It is used to set up body position subsequent steps. CBMP, or Contra-Body Movement Position, is a step. In a figure such as the Feather Step in Foxtrot, CBM on the first step on the right foot sets up the correct relative position of leader and follower so that the followers steps in CBMP on the second step, and the leader steps in CBMP on the third step.

    Tango Technique

    Tango Silver practice routine:

    1. Walk  (S) starting Man DW
    2. Walk  (S)
    3. Progressive Link  (QQ) ending traveling DC
    4. Promenade Link  (SQQ)
    5. Open Reverse Turn, Lady Outside  (QQS QQS) Open Finish
    6. Four Step  (QQQQ) ending traveling DC in PP on new LOD
    7. Open Promenade  (SQQS)
    8. Outside Swivel  (SQQ)
    9. Progressive Side Step Reverse Turn  (QQSS QQS QQS)
    10. Progressive Link  (QQ)
    11. Natural Promenade Turn  (S QQS)
    12. Rock Turn  (QQS QQS) 2-7 Closed Finish
    13. Progressive Link  (QQ)
    14. Natural Twist Turn  (S QQS QQ) underturned, ending traveling on new LOD
    15. Promenade Link  (SQQ)
    16. Open Reverse Turn, Lady Outside  (QQS QQS)
    17. Progressive Link  (QQ) toward corner
    18. Back Open Promenade  (SQQS)

    A couple of technique points on Tango:

    • On Progressive link: Man: step diagonally forward with left foot, pushing follower's right leg out of the way. step 1 is very strong CBMP. Man should turn his frame when his weight is on his left foot, then put down right foot under shoulder, in promenade position.
    • On Promenade link: when in PP, lady has to stay behind Man. on second step, when Lady steps LF forward and across in CBMP, it needs to stay behind Man, so after turning to face Man, the left leg can be in the right position.
    • On Four Step: The first part is like Open Reverse Turn, it ends with Lady's LF closes to RF, but slightly back to give room for Man), in PP. This is different from the ending position in Progressive Link (where LF steps to the side.)
    • On Open promenade, when this is followed by Outside Swivel, as Lady is quickly back into closed position, the Lady can keep her head position in Open Promenade all the way through Outside Swivel.
    • Both Man and Lay should pay close attention to correct footwork and alignment.