Ballroom Dance > Light vs. Heavy Connection

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by DanceMentor, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    I've been thinking a lot about this lately, because I have a salsa instructor whose presence I can hardly feel, an approach I don't like. When I give more energy looking for him to "match" me, he calls it "tension", but that's not what it is. Am pretty sure he's a member of the "negative pressure" dance connection club, whereas in both my Latin & my Standard training, I've been consistently taught with the "positive pressure" approach.

    I want to feel my partner and where he is. When I can't feel him because he has drawn away or moved, I know it's time for me to move...or to "give" more.

    Interestingly, the last salsa class I took in this group, one of the leaders said to me, "I like dancing with you. I can *feel* you." That's what I'm after.

    ETA: I'm wondering if, amongst the other Latin & Standard dancers here, there are those who dance using the negative pressure approach.
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  2. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    the answer is neither

    connection can be measured from -10 to +10 ala toni red path you often need connections from +5 to +10 and -5 to -10 especially in competitive dancing
  3. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Do you mean you follow neither a negative pressure nor a positive pressure approach, or are you responding to someone else's comment?

    What you are describing sounds to me like the actual sense of "aliveness" and constant adjustment that occurs in a flexible, breathing connection.
  4. vit

    vit Active Member

    I'm not sure are you talking about the same thing, but here is my opinion

    In standard and latin, I've been also constantly taught with something that could be described as "positive pressure approach". I mean, when dancing standard, both partners are slightly pushing against each other. This is probably slightly different from couple to couple (more or less "pressure", more in body or more in arms etc) but I certainly don't like a follower pulling me instead of slightly resisting me, as I'm falling to my nose

    Latin is giving more freedom, so probably range from -10 to +10 is used, but average during whole dance is also positive I think

    Dance significantly different is West coast swing, where this average is surely negative - leading is significantly different than in ballroom, at least in a form that was presented to me (which I believe is correct, after dancing with some people outside my country) and is mostly based on "pulling" - which is also the reason (or at least one of) of back poise in the dance. When started learning it about a year ago, it required some reprogramming in my head, after doing these things ballroom way for more than two decades

    Now, there are two main kinds of salsa - cuban and linear. Cuban salsa generally has some similarities with latin in a way of leading and even structure of some basic figures, as latin is also based on ideas taken from son, danzon etc. Linear salsa has some influences of other dances, including WCS which gave (I suppose) the form of dancing in slots. As about the connection, nobody explained these things to me on the classes, but after starting learning WCS, I started noticing that many dancers are using similar, dominantly pull type approach. We had recently some discussions about that in SF. It turned out that many salseros still believe in similar roots like in latin - weight/stepping over toes, cuban movement etc, but in reality, linear salsa frequently turns into somewhat backpoised, swing type of dance, with usage of the heels, not much cuban movement etc - this is however different depending on the area/style etc ...
  5. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    With very few exceptions, nothing in dance should be constant---it is, after all, an art form based on movement.

    Positive and negative tension, connection, pressure, "aliveness", light, shade, space, you-name-your-favorite-here, should happen ONLY because there is a functional or mechanical need that demands its existence and amount (such as a counter-"energy" that might give you enough momentum to generate speed, or help you arrest your momentum to slow down).

    Positive or negative "whatever" in-of-itself, that simply exists because of some dogma, philosophy, personal preference, or school of thought (without regard for its usefulness) is a waste of energy.

    Body contact, is a good example.
    It may be lighter when you are traversing a straight line, and might be heavier if you're creating pendular movement or helping your partner on a picture line---or it might even be negative, as when you create a space that you want your partner to occupy.

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  6. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    But it seems to me that the fact there are different paradigms is a valid thing to be aware of, since they inform the "language" that dancers are seeking to exchange with their partners.

    I know that those who seek a marked response are quick to say "Where are you? Give me more!", whereas those who have not been trained to look for that response immediately want less presence. It's come up a lot for me -- noticeably when I leave the Standard/Latin world and jump to the Salsa/Hustle/WCS world.

    I just adapt as much as I can. It helps to at least know that not everyone is coming at this from the same perspective. :)
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  7. nikkitta

    nikkitta Well-Known Member

    Yup, the magic balance between feeling practically nothing (and thus getting no physical feedback) and feeling suffocated and unable to move independently unless "allowed" to by the leader. I abhor being suffocated. That's not a partnership. That's a dictatorship.

    I agree it ideally should be a constantly evolving connection dependent on what is being danced and the presence (or not) of pre-existing forces from prior movement.
    samina likes this.
  8. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    Maybe this will help. You can have a strong body connection in latin or rhythm, with the lead coming from the body, and being followed with the body, without any direct body contact at all. This is different from leading with the arms, though in latin and rhythm, the contact points would be the same. Connection and contact are not that closely related.
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  9. Hedwaite

    Hedwaite Well-Known Member

    Someone mentioned the difference between contact and connection, which is interesting. I believe you can have connection with a partner without contact (eye contact, following visible body leads, etc.) but it's difficult to have contact without what I would consider a "positve" or "relevant" connection. So to me, connection is more important than contact, if that makes sense.
    chomsky likes this.
  10. Janson

    Janson Active Member

    Ballroom seems very dependent on balancing each other with the partners weight and so a strong connection is surely needed there, although more recently I've heard the arms/frame should be light and hardly applying any force - I suppose this makes the body connection more prominent and efficient.
    Latin, I prefer a 'heavier' connection as I can always apply a bit more force in return to go through the leads - but there's nothing I can do if there isn't enough pressure to start with.
    Egorich likes this.
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Wasn't going to comment since to OP was regarding standard, but now...

    Let's just say, I'd think not, since one of the first written descriptions of Western Swing/West Coast Swing is dated 1953 (although that is listed as "revised" the earlier one has no date.)
    Hope TangoTime comments on early forms of rumba which date from the 30s in the US. "Smooth swing" in Los Angeles dates from the early 40s, and may or may not be WCS.
    And, WCS ideally has an "away pressure" at the conclusion of an anchor step, followed by the "pull" of movement from the man's "center" immediately following the anchor.
  12. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    My personal view is there truly are multiple ways of thinking about it that can be successful. Overly focusing on one area can also have its pitfalls. However, you have to spend time developing your "tools", and increasingly you can solve problems more quickly.
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  13. Hedwaite

    Hedwaite Well-Known Member

    I disagree somewhat on WCS away pressure concept, from a follow perspective at least. To feel "away" pressure, you have to be "toward" the force as the follow, at least. It's like (edit- yes, I'm aware that WCS and IS are two different styles, but sometimes reminiscent concepts) Karen Hilton/Toni Redpath always discussing "dancing forward" (in standard), or other people say to "dance your quicks as though they were slow and let the leader determine the rhythm" in Latin/Rhythm dances.

    Nah, not really. I just like to see other explanations/elaborations on things because it all just makes dancing more interesting to think about as well as do.

    (Not that it did much better the second time, but edits throughout for clarity)
  14. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Thinking too much of "away" pressure can have an impact on the couple staying together, and of course we have to think about which part is "away" and when. Then of course there is rotation involved, so what direction is "away"?

    Also, in having a more holistic approach, the whole body is moving. Often thinking "toward" or "away" can end up being too specific about a body part. For example, we are thinking about hands, but maybe not enough about the feet.
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  15. Egorich

    Egorich Active Member

    Just like a four-legged animal, creating unity in movement. :)
    I personally use the term of "controlled directional gravity" by applying natural body weight pressure towards your partner, enabling firm body contact. Directional responsiveness of your partner then will confirm as connection.
    chomsky likes this.
  16. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    There are many ways to write the letter "A".

    Some ways it may be very basic, as the halting penmanship of a 4 year old child, or the elegant and practiced hand of an adult, or beautifully sublime as one would expect from a master calligrapher.

    Regardless of how you write it, the fundamental shape of the letter "A" would still be the same.

    The same is true in dance---whatever the style (Modern, Latin, Social, AT, etc)

    Whatever the fundamental principle element involved might be---it will always apply no matter what one does.

    Like an expert calligrapher, you can embellish, modify, push, or extend the fundamental principle (such as level of tensioning) so much so that it spins-off into different paradigms or schools---and is perfectly valid and often times necessary.

    The existence of such variation, however, does not invalidate the fundamental element/principle.

    The problem comes in when we start to define the variation as the fundamental element, rather than a derivation.

    chomsky, Sania, Gorme and 1 other person like this.
  17. Hedwaite

    Hedwaite Well-Known Member

    Sometimes, you just gotta STFUAD.
  18. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    To put this together with what nikkitta said, I think this is one reason that body contact is so important in standard/smooth -- so that the frame leaves space for the follow to move. Yes, you can dance these dances without body contact, but it's a lot harder to do so without a confining frame. (Hence, all of the shoulders-and-arms torture devices that we inflict on standard/smooth newbies.) With a good body connection, I always feel like it's easier for me to communicate the lead since I don't have to apply force or leverage through my shoulders.
    chomsky likes this.
  19. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    I don't think it is as esoteric and conceptually complex as the direction of this thread is taking this topic. Speaking as a follow who reduces my following sensibilities to very simple concepts in the moment (Give, Wait, Go, More, Move), all this talk about percentages and conceptual variabilities seems more theoretical than applicable, to me.

    But the "positive pressure" rule is definitely a framework I feel has worked IME, and in which a full range of variability can find expression. I don't understand how a negative pressure paradigm would work in Standard or Latin.
  20. vit

    vit Active Member

    I think that type of connection is integral part of the genre/style, so changing this wouldn't work or would change the appearance of the dance

    Social dancing like WCS and salsa requires different set of skills than dancing prepared routines anyway

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