One of the most difficult things for leader is to master the whole idea of turn-patterns and combos. While it only gets more complex as you advance, it’s advised to understand how to approach your move arsenal and execute them with as few errors as possible. While one could write a whole book on the subject, here are a few tips for turn-pattern mastery.
Rock, Paper, Scissors :
One of the most potent bits of advise given to me by my teacher was to approach executing moves by understanding which handhold you’ll be in when you’re at your transition points ( the end points of your previously executed move). Once you recognize the hand-hold you can randomly choose any move from your arsenal that begins with that hand-hold. Like ‘Rock, Paper Scissors’, if you see the hand-hold will be a ‘left-to-left’ hold, you can then play any move that lands in that position.
An example would be you could either do a ‘Rainbow/Titanic’, a funky ‘In & Out’ or possibly a ‘Double Comb/Sombrero’
Here are the common holds:
Open, Closed, Left-to-Left, Right-to-Right, Right Chain Hold, Left Chain Hold
How do you get started?
Make a list of all of the moves that you know (I do this in Excel, but any text editor is fine). Make a column for each type of hand-hold, so all Right-to-Right moves will be in column A, all left-to-left moves will be in column B, etc.
With the list complete, start dancing a move and randomly pick moves from one column. When you come to a move that ends in another hand-hold, randomly pick a move from the appropriate column. Keep doing this over and over again and keep in mind all of the random patterns you can make from your list. You’ll be surprised at how many combinations you can make with even only a few moves!
Increase Your Arsenal
Here’s one thing that all good dancers do: scour the interweb for interesting new moves. While the ‘Palm Drop’ was boss in level 2, everyone does it so why not check out cool variations that will set you apart from everyone else? There are literally hundreds of sources online which give free lessons for new moves. Trust me, it’s awesome to hear a lady ‘ooh’ when you pull off a simple, yet unique move.
Outing / Club Lessons
Another great way to learn new moves is by checking out the TDS (and other) club outings. There’s always a lesson at the beginning and they always try to throw in moves that aren’t taught in your regular classes. A lot of my cool moves have come from hitting up the outing lessons and from teachers who have their own style.
Free Style…Your Style
Whether you’re a rocker, r&b or even have ballet you can throw in moves from other dance styles to mix it up. You wouldn’t believe how cool it is to see someone who throw in some pop’n'lock moves or even some rockNroll kicks in their shines. While your school teaches you certain fundamental rules, by all means throw in your personal style as a regular right turn can seem like an entirely new move when you put a different vibe on it. Don’t have any previous dance moves? Check out your favourite music videos on YouTube, I’m sure you’ll see something that you can transpose.
Make-Over Your Combos
Every time you learn a new combo from class, outings or online; revert back to your ‘Salsa Matrix’ document with the moves in different columns. Take some time to see how you can mix up your current combos by randomly throwing in new moves.
When In Doubt, Steal Moves!
Sometimes when I’m feeling like my moves are stale, I’ll head down to a salsa club and watch all different kinds of leaders to see what they’re doing right and wrong. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a move that you can use (don’t forget it in between those bottles of Coronas). Don’t rip other leaders’ styles completely, but a move here and there is quite cool.
While difficult, being a combo/turn-pattern master should be a fun and adventurous process!
Feel the Music
On a final note, one thing for sure is to realize that you don’t have to do a million moves for every song!!! I can’t stress enough that your dancing should reflect the song. There’s no need for 5 whirlwind Coca Colas in a romantic-style song. Keep your moves subtle during the soft parts and amp it up a bit during the choruses. If you need any sort of validation if you’re doing it right all you have to do is look at your dance partner. If she’s smiling, you’re doing it right!
Stay Shining Salseros!
There is no question that being on a performance team makes you a better dancer. Not only do you have to remember an entire song’s choreography, but you have to take in account that 2-5 other couples are doing the same moves and you must all be in synch. Mix the moves with being on time and being aware of the couples that you’re dancing with and you’ve got one thing: a really fun experience that pushes you to your limits as a dancer.
While being apprehensive about joining the team at the beginning, I’m really starting to get into it all. From the intensity of our shines routine to the creative use of the TDS syllabus moves. This week I was really impressed with the new helpers who have just completed level 3 and are doing level 5 moves!
Trust me, doing lasso’s aren’t easy and having to learn them within a few minutes is very impressive! It’s amazing to see the team’s skills grow and to learn from Tracie and the more experienced dancers.
Must keep this one short, but week 3 was a great practice and I’m looking forward to nailing my coca cola’s down for the next one!
Stay Shining Salseros!
While I’m not one for self-promotion, I just wanted to take a quick moment to thank everyone who took the time to send positive helper comments my way and to those who have made a big difference in the past year. Seeing how there are so many great helpers, I was amazing to have won the award and am quite honoured. Thank you once again and am looking forward to seeing you all on the dance floor.
Stay Shining Salseros!
Bachata isn’t about the footwork, nor is it about styling or getting dangerously close to your dance partner…it’s about something greater that’s very apparent when witnessing life in the Dominican Republic. Facing the harsh realities of a developing nation, the people that I met during a recent trip seemed to cope through music and dance. Bachata and Merengue aren’t just catchy songs to dance to, but are moving statements of life, love and loss.
Almost as soon as the plane landed you could hear the music in the airport, then on the bus and practically everywhere on the resort. A TDS/Latin dancers’ paradise, you basically end up dancing Bachata, Merengue and Salsa every day/night. While it was cool to impress the touristas, my favourite part of the whole trip was during an excursion where a local guide took notice of our impromptu Bachata at a small canteen. It was amazing to see how proud and amazed he was to find out that people outside of his country knew the dance and even it’s artists.
This pride was apparent throughout the trip, from wait-staff at the resort to the children at the local public school to the wondrous dance team. While it may not make sense, but being surrounded by all of the textures of the D.R. you seem to feel the music much more. Each dance step taken drew that much more sadness, strife and passion.
While some are lucky to get this feeling through the music alone, it took witnessing the real Dominican life for me to truly feel and express Bachata in my movements and mind. With that being said, I would like to express positive thoughts and much love to the Haitians, their families and friends that we met on the trip. I hope that they are safe, healthy and together throughout this difficult time.
Stay Shining Salseros
With the last few days of the ‘aughts in our midsts, it’s time to state for the record my salsa resolutions for 2010. While not all of these may apply to you, I encourage anyone else to join me in fulfilling these during the new year…
Do you have New Years’ Plans? I know some of you already have your Hotel and Salsa Glam tickets purchased but if you’d rather save the cash to hit up an all-inclusive trip later in the Winter – Check out the most recession-friendly Salsa Party in the City! Not only are the $45 advanced tickets a great value but you’re also dancing on one of my favourite floors at Acrobat lounge.
So, not only do you get an amazing night of salsa but check out the many other great things that are in the works:
- A not-to-be-missed performance from the lovely ladies of the TDS Pro-Team! Come see Emely, Sarah and crew perform for the first time!
While Jay Z may be singing the praises of New York on the radio, the growing community of On 2 dancers are most definitely stepping theirs. I recently had the pleasure to attend the Beginner to On 2 Workshop held at Empress and I must that while at first I was a bit skeptical, I now can confidently say that I absolutely love On 2 Salsa. While it’s a bit tricky to get the basic, once you do, I bet you’ll find that it’s pretty easy to convert over all of your moves too!
Here are a few observations that I learned from the workshop taught by Gen and Young from Korkoa:
- On 2 is the dominant style of dance in New York (On 1 is mostly West Coast/LA).
- While On 1 focuses stepping on the 1, On 2 focuses on the second and sixth beat and is stepped, slow | quick | quick, instead of quick | quick | slow
- Because of the pausing at the beginning of the step, partnering becomes easier as there’s more time for turns and styling…this makes dancing to fast songs much easier.
- Emphasizing the second beat changes your basic, it feels almost jazzier/funkier when you’re doing your basic.
- On 2 dancers assume more of a ‘walking’ basic and seem to float back and forth whereas On 1 dancers are a bit more bold in their basic.
- Ladies turn on the 2-3 and men on the 6-7.
While On 2 may not be for everyone (many people like to become an advanced dancer before learning this style) I highly recommend that you learn it earlier on as it increases your dance card, will improve your styling and you won’t be afraid to check out the New York Congress next year!
I’m including a pretty solid video of the On 2 Basic that I found on YouTube. I hope that this gives you a sense of how the basic differs from On 1
Do you dance On 2? In your opinion, how does it differ from dancing On 1? Would love to hear your thoughts,
Stay Shining Salseros!