My partner lacks musicality

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Alice.W, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    for my part, the idea of having someone look at the dancing, isn't necessarily because I am certain of where the fault should be placed....it is rather, precisely because I don't know...and they need someone to assess it....that being said, it isn't a good idea to avoid dancing to music most of the time and/or to avoid dancing rounds...while there may be some reason for that, frequent avoidance of it should be discussed with a coach...if they are having timing issues, a third set of eyes and ears is important
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    there is a difference between a partner disagreeing with interpretation of timing and not following...and a lead being off time...dancing off time is lethal at competition...it needs to be assessed...you can dance one measure off time to play with the timing but if you don't recover it, you will be off time....and there is a consequence for that
    danceronice likes this.
  3. Soulmate61

    Soulmate61 Active Member

    Windows Media Player will half the run speed (but losing sound) if you do ctrl+shift S, (ctrl+shift F for speed, ctrl+shift N for normal speed).

    GOM Player can replay at one-fifth speed using the same keys without losing sound.

    Youtube can reduce to one-quarter speed but you need to request this beta option by clicking "Try something new" at the bottom of home page, then download free HTML5, then activate by clicking open the "industrial cogwheel" under the picture and selecting your speed.

    Slow-motion replay is my secret weapon for learning dance, alas secret no longer. :D

    Not if you dance in front of judges with poor timing.
    dbk likes this.
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    fair enough...but I wouldn't want to roll the die on that one :)
  5. mindputtee

    mindputtee Well-Known Member

    Does your partner ever practice alone to music? Is he off time then?
  6. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Sorry to reply to the same thing twice, but… seriously? We have ALL had issues with timing, which is exactly the same amount of experience you’ve had with the situation, unless you know the couple personally. And if we seem willing to “find” shortcomings (or, you know, believe the ones that his partner has presented) – you seem very willing to overlook them.
    Alice W.’s partner is not working on the timing, or is at least not communicating that to her. IMO, the attitude is the bigger problem than him being off time.
    Sorry, no. In a social dance, and during a competition, sure. But there is a difference between “leading” the time, and deciding the partnership’s timing. Followers don’t lead, but they sure as he…ck get an equal say in the timing that the partnership practices. Leading does not give leaders majority vote or final say.

    Get back to me when you’re an experienced follower dancing with a leader who is off-time to music. Being off time isn’t a simple issue – it can effect movement, your ability to stay connected, your ability to follow, your ability to do the next step, etc. If the leader can hear the timing but is still struggling to dance on time, he’s probably doing something physically wrong… which absolutely will affect her ability to stay connected and do her part correctly.

    He is not willing to do rounds at all. She even suggested doing rounds with simpler routines. That in and of itself is a bigger issue than timing, IMO.
    Sania and Bailamosdance like this.
  7. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Did I overlook? I think I pointed out a personal experience of my own that's related to the issue at hand. Maybe it's applicable to OP's partnership, maybe not. At any rate I think it's a reason not to be hasty in condemning her partner.

    Your willingness to believe what one partner says about the other partner's dancing seems strange to me. Basically I think we can say, "We know there's a partnership struggling with timing issues; and we think there's a communication issue there, too."

    We don't know what he's working on, and we haven't observed their communication with each other. We can be sympathetic with her frustration but that sympathy doesn't seem like a basis for making conclusions about his attitude.

    Leading gives the only say about that, during the dancing. There has to be honest communication while not dancing about what's going right/wrong, is pleasant/unpleasant, needs/doesn't need work. That conversation is 50-50. During the dance, there are assigned roles, and as a leader I always wanted total confidence that each weight change would travel as near/far, fast/slow, early/late as I decided in a given moment.


    So if my follower doesn't make each weight change as I predict -- you're right that perhaps I didn't lead it properly. Maybe I secretly reached with a foot, or failed to sent my body where I was sending hers, or the like. There's plenty of fair game for discussion in such cases. But if I lead properly and she doesn't follow, then I have to start engaging in a guessing game of what to do to end up in a place I can predict, when planning the next step after this one. It's pretty easy for timing to fall by the wayside / fail to develop, in that mode.

    In any case, the follower needs to follow the leader, *not* the music. If the leader isn't following the music, then there's a discussion to be had, but it doesn't change the assigned role of the follower during the dance.

    Please note that in all of this I'm *not* defending off-time dancing. I'm saying that a follower trying to assert anything different than what is led *during a dance* can only make things worse; and within a partnership can raise long-term obstacles to getting the results she wants from that partnership.

    We don't know the fullness of that discussion, either.
    freeageless likes this.
  8. Soulmate61

    Soulmate61 Active Member

    During practice for sure democracy should rule, one partner one vote.

    But if during competition the leader is a fraction of a second too early, or if he takes too big a step on the inside of a turn, then the follower is committed to protecting the situation somehow. In the second scenario my 5-foot-3 woman teacher leapt like a tigress on the outside of the circle to keep up with me and stay in time.

    I laughed, point taken, and I never again took another step on the inside of the circle which would be too big for her on the outside -- the same goes when a woman is on the inside.
  9. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    You shared a person experience, and yet you do not know any more about OP than the rest of us. My objection is to the scolding “Folks seem surprisingly willing, absent first-hand knowledge, to find shortcomings in the fellow described by OP.” You are no different; the scolding is completely unnecessary.

    I will believe that partner over my own speculation, yes. Everyone is biased, but she knows the situation a lot better than I do – or you.
    Again, if “we don’t know them” is an argument – no one should be replying to this or any other advice thread. We go by what we read in the post, and make conclusions based on that.
    No one here knows OP’s partner better than she does. Please feel free to correct me if you know him better – otherwise I’m done discussing this obnoxious issue.
    Leaders do not control 100% of movement and direction. But that’s an issue of technique, and this is not the place to correct your micromanagement; this is something to bring up with a coach.
    WHATEVER your opinion on leading is, it doesn’t matter. They are in practice, and if she feels like the timing is wrong, that needs to be addressed. His timing is not correctly simply because he’s leading it. It’s wrong, even if she can follow it. She should not be expected to shut up and follow it just because he’s the leader.
    There is plenty of evidence of the former, and very little of the latter. OP said she has had no problems with previous partners, so it sounds like this is not an issue of her refusing to follow. It might be frustrating to have a follower who does not follow your timing, but I see no evidence of that being the case here. She does not say that she’s refusing to follow his timing; she even said “I gave it some time, thinking it might improve”.

    First of all, followers follow both leader and music; it’s a fault of the leader of those two are not in sync.
    Second, it does not matter what her role is in the dance. She is using her words to tell him, during practice, that timing is an issue. He is telling her to ignore it. That has absolutely nothing to do with lead/follow. I can follow an off-time leader just fine – that doesn’t mean I should just shut up and not worry about it during practice. That’s not the role of a follower.
    What exactly do you think we are missing to make this a more "full" discussion? She brought the issue of rounds up, and he said no, because he wants to "get better". Nothing more is needed, unless 1) you don't think rounds are an important part of "getting better," or 2) you're looking for excuses to make him Mr. Misunderstood Perfect Partner.
  10. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Agreed 100%. :)

    Obviously followers shouldn't ignore a lead's timing, or cause problems during a social or competition. But that is not the problem Alice W. is having!
  11. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    General moderation comment, let's try to keep the "scolding" out of the forums all together, and remember that online communications can be tricky when reading intent and tone. Let's try to give each other the benefit of the doubt and maintain our civility. Thanks!
    Sania and dbk like this.
  12. vit

    vit Active Member

    I believe it was like that in my competitive days 2 decades ago ...

    Several months ago, one very good ballroom standard trainer in my town and ex quite successful pro dancer mentioned to me something like this "things changed recently. Guys just think that they are leading. Actually, on many competitions, I see that girls are leading more than guys ..."
    Bailamosdance and dbk like this.
  13. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    The way I have seen it discussed recently has been... complicated, but I think quite useful. And cool :)

    I particularly like the idea of 'initiating' and 'completing' movement, which happens at different times and by different partners depending on the step. Every time I, or someone I know, works to get rid of "micromanagement" philosophy of leading, the dancing improves significantly.

    I am not sure if it is an actual physical difference from the way it was 20+ years ago, though. Personally, I don't know enough (or nearly anything) about old-school dancing technique that has since evolved. Perhaps the change is more in how we think about it?
    Bailamosdance likes this.
  14. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    From my point of view: there's a guy being a bit early or late on a step and then there's a guy being flat out wrong in their timing. Case in point, my first dance at the Carolina Fall Classic last year was a waltz. For some reason, I could not hear the beat in that song at *all*. Happily, that's not something that's a routine occurance, but I spent the entire dance in a blind panic as I knew perfectly well that I was completely off time, but having no idea how to fix it. Suffice it to say, we got exactly the marks we deserved for the dance. (That is to say, none.) Had it not been my partner's very first competition, perhaps she could have pulled me out of my tailspin. Hopefully should it happen again, she'll be able to help me out. And when we're practicing, she's always entitled to stop us if she feels we're off time.

    Anyways, I'm sympathetic to the idea that the follower should, well, follow. But I don't think that means that she should be unaware of the music. Nor do I think it means she shouldn't be able to bring timing up when it's an issue. Of course, there's a balance to be struck there as one doesn't want to come off as nagging one's partner, but I think that ideally, partners should be able to work together as a team.
    dbk likes this.
  15. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    None of us know OP or her partner, so I'm just trying to point out that there are multiple ways of looking at this situation and we should be cautious of drawing conclusions in any direction.

    I disagree that no one should be replying. I do think we can share related personal experiences and perspectives (which is what I'm trying to do).

    Wow, now you're drawing conclusions about *my* dancing.

    The main gist I've been trying to convey regards *predictability*, rather than *control* of the follower's movements. If the leader doesn't feel confident of exactly where a step will end up, I can easily foresee him making trade-offs (including timing) that will make both members of the partnership unhappy.

    I completely agree with you that if she thinks the timing is wrong, it needs to be addressed. They should communicate with each other and with a teacher, to address it. I never said she should shut up; indeed I said she has a right to complain bitterly. However during the actual dancing itself, the follower and leader alike have very specific jobs.

    In her original post she said "I just can't do it". She also said that she thinks he's the better dancer of them (which, not having seen them, I neither believe nor disbelieve on its face).

    Well, I think you and I have a fundamental disagreement on that point, but let's leave it at that rather than argue about it.

    I think good communication between partners is essential, and neither partner should silently endure unhappiness or discomfort. However we aren't privy to the actual interactions between the partners at issue here.

    Of course I agree neither with 1 nor 2. <shrug> It seems to me that both with OP and with me, you're reading more into things than I think the internet really allows us to read into things.

    Well, I'll add one more perspective from my own experience: I think it's trouble when one partner blames the other, no matter how apparently correctly.
    Bailamosdance likes this.
  16. vit

    vit Active Member

    Yes, I agree with that. It is quite complex subject. Just wanted to illustrate that there are interesting opinions about this even among pros

    In WDSF at least, both standard and latin are much more dynamic than it was 20 years ago. Maybe it's also one of the reasons that leader / follower role slightly changed. I can't tell for sure, as I don't compete anymore, it was just an opinion of someone else. However, if I take salsa or WCS for example, which I'm mostly dancing now, it is social dance and leader has big role. Dance is not pre choreographed so he must lead the follower (different one every several dances) and make sure she can follow whole of the time. And yes - there are girls that are able to follow 'blindly' almost everything without paying attention to the music. But - people generally don't like to dance with them - it is boring if the follower doesn't have her own interpretation of the music within the freedom given by the leader. She must have her body rhythm and weight transfer - leader is there mostly to change direction of her movement and not to move her (this was also mentioned by Donnie in one lesson)
    dbk likes this.
  17. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Funny, because this is exactly the problem I've had with your posts... but I believe the mods have requested we move along, so let's stop bringing it up, shall we?
  18. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Sounds like it, yeah. Makes me want to do some research into more 'old-school' philosophies - or rather, 'old-school' mechanics/technique. :p

    Agreed on all counts! Although IMO it's just as applicable within a routine, no matter how choreographed :)

    Bringing it back to Alice.W, I would add that "weight transfer" is IMO the key to the problem here... their weight transfers don't match. They're hearing the same beat, but most likely moving their weight at different times/speeds.
  19. Soulmate61

    Soulmate61 Active Member

    This debate is in danger of turning into a cause celebre and blame game, so lets examine the original evidence.

    It's a little strange to me, as he obviously thinks of himself as a more advanced dancer than me (and I agree).
    You do not understand why this good mover and dancer cannot or does not want to keep up with fast music.

    I had other partners before, pro- and am-, and I never faced this problem.
    There is always a first time.

    He tells me not to worry about music so much and just follow him, but I just can't do it.
    He is indifferent to music and moves effortlessly against strict tempo. You like strict tempo.

    Then he starts telling me it's my poor technique that makes us off-music.
    He is off-music because of his good technique ha? You are off music because of your poor technique? Pull the other one.

    I gave it some time, thinking it might improve, but it doesn't. I suggested we go to rounds and maybe just dance simpler routines to develop that connection with music, but he doesn't want to do rounds until we "get better".
    You are not against his management of bodyweight, just his preference for slower, irregular movement. You like strict tempo, he likes loose tempo. When Joanna Leunis performs her spins like nobody in the world can she is of course completely ignoring strict tempo. In her jive I also find her ignoring the beat at times in favour of movement the way Yulia does not. There are some folks who simply feel body movement is more cool than aural movement.

    He needs a woman like him.
    You need a man not like him.
    Case solved, next.
  20. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Or he can't hear/find the beat and is just wrong, which is more likely. (The hoofbeats are probably horses, not zebras.) Also, a preference for slower, irregular movement (which would still require moving on the beat) doesn't preclude going to rounds and dancing in an environment closer to competition. And if it's an issue of style, rather than his not dancing to the music, there's no reason not to dance to music in front of an instructor and receive feedback, rather than tie up lessons just working on technique without music. He not only apparently has trouble counting, for some reason he doesn't respect his partner much as he blows off her concerns.
    Gorme likes this.

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