May 2005 Intermediate Class

At one point last night I was talking about weight distribution during a basic Salsa step. I hope I didn't confuse anyone too much.  Please let me explain a little more:

I stated that, at least during Merengue, the weight should be at least about 80% on the opposite foot that you just stepped on, and that this is the essence of "contra-body motion' which is fundamental to dancing with "latin styling."

Upon further thought, I still stand behind exactly what I said, however: during a salsa basic there are some additional things going on which make this weight distribution a bit less obvious.  First of all, this weight distribution applies to the instant you step down (or if you were to step down and then stop).  However, in Salsa as soon as you take a step, you immediately are transitioning into the next step and you do that by shifting your weight onto the foot you had just stepped on, so it's easy to think that you put you weight on the foot you just stepped on -- you actually do put your weight on the foot you just stepped on, but you do that as part of taking your next step, not as part of taking the step you just made!

The second thing is that since you are moving forward and backward the weight distribution gets redistributed somewhat as well. In Merengue (dancing in place) there is no moving back and forth so the weight distribution isn't affected.

During the last (5th) week of June, am I planning to have a special workshop on Latin Body motion and I'll be explaining all of this is much more detail, and hopefully then you might know what the heck I am talking about!

Techniques

• Everybody (women especially) always should have any free hands at stomach height.  It looks much better, and the idea is to make it as easy as possible for the leader to grab the woman's hand at any time.
• Simple exercise: Dance around and get comfortable grabbing the woman's hand WITHOUT EVEN looking at her hand.
• XB:WLT footwork and stopping on a "dime"
• When executing a cross body lead with a woman's left (inside) turn, men decide ahead of time whether you want to go to closed position or not. If you go to closed position, then the man places his R hand on the woman's back as soon as possible (technically on 7), and then the woman responds by lifting her L hand on the following 1. Woman becoming very proficient at this is very important to being a very good follower.
If going to open position, then no hand goes on the woman's back, and the woman should keep the hands at stomach height and the man should grab the woman's L hand with his R hand after the woman's turn.  Learn to do this without looking at/for her hand!
• After a XB with a WLT (Woman's left turn) and going into a regular cross body lead, the woman tends to step too far forward so that the solid connection is lost.  So ladies try to adjust your step so that you don't lose the connection (in other words, take a basic 1-2-3 step with actually stepping a little bit back on3 if necessary to re-establish or to "search for and find" his palm on your back.
• Toquetea:  that's the man's left turn in between two cross body leads.  We will go over different hand combinations for this.
There are at least two ways to do this:
1. on7: 1/4 turn to the left. on1: half turn to L. on2: half turn to L placing R foot in position for XB. on3: get into cross body lead position
2. on7: 1/4 turn to the left. on1: spin on L foot 3/4 tun to L and forward breaking as usual
• released XB:WLT by leading with MR arm flick from closed danced position
• with simultaneous toquetea
I called this "Invisible Lead".  Remember that the woman should position their back so that there is always a solid connection between the man's right hand and the woman's back.  The woman, should be always "searching" for the man's hand around her back.
• reverse direction Cross Body Lead (woman turns half way to right instead of half way to the left)
• woman's footwork is roughly: Lfoot forward on5, Rfoot forward on6, pivot on Rfoot half way to R, and step back on Lfoot on7
• be able to lead and follow this move and the regular cross body lead (without saying anything of course) the following ways:
• from closed position
• from open position
• from holding L-R hands only
• optional: from holding R-L hands only (this is beyond the scope of this class)
• spinning to Right (during - on6 (woman's count))
• left foot goes forward and you spin on back right foot.
• You should be able to stop in perfect balance.
• Practice with spotting a point on the wall, an inch or two above the height of your eyes.
• Please practice 5-10 minutes a day.
• If you get dizzy, try spinning the other way a little bit.
• Practice turning more than once around (twice) once you are doing one turn pretty well.
• Make sure you can do one turn absolutely perfectly. (Practice two turns, but don't stop practicing one turn as well.)
• Practice spinning once, stopping in place, then waiting 4 or 8 counts, and then resume the basic step.
• timing is set on5, spin on6, land with left foot a little behind right foot on7
• spinning to Right (during - on3 (woman's count))
• timing is set on2, spin on3, on4, land left foot in front of right foot (normal forward break) on 1
• double spin to Right:
simply combine the on3 right turn with the on6 right turn and you can make it a double turn. When you get good at this, you can try leaving out touching your left foot down on5 and make it two spins all on the right foot.

Routine for May 2005
• start closed position, XB and switch to R-R hands on 7
• pick on L-L hands below on 3, and then R-R:L-L:WRT and into hand toss
• hand toss R-R on7 (of previous measure), catch R-R hands above on1 (exactly) and another WRT
• double head comb and start XB, with dropping man's R hand below woman's Lhand and grab her R hand below (also MLhand goes back from over his head) and do XB:WLT with woman turning underneath all hands (woman should bend at knees if needed to clear hands)
• another XB:WLT with all hands going over W's head.

• now can repeat whole combination from beginning (second bullet actually), or, instead of previous move, do:
• XB:WLT winding R-R behind woman's back
• XB:WLT leading with open palms, and hands slide off and do "stomach massage" as woman spins around to left (also known as "midriff move" or the "Ashley move"

• can repeat above move as much as you want

• then curl fingers (MRhand) and woman should respond to curling her fingers (WRhand) to hands "lock" and then do reverse direction XB (with 1/2 WRT instead of normal 1/2 WLT) -- R-R hands were behind woman's back and now end up with L-L hands behind woman's back
• do XB:WLT keeping all hands down so now R-R hands around behind woman's back again

• can repeat last two moves as much as you want

• do the reverse direction XB lead once more, and then:
• head comb woman with R-R on1, left go of her R hand placing your Rhand on her back, continue into XB:WLT. On 7 place your Rhand on her back
• on1 toss her Lhand into air and it should over you head and do XB into closed position