"Women Have No Choice But to do the Right Thing"

Jag75

Active Member
#62
One myth I'd love to debunk right now - just as many women have trouble staying on beat as men. I know this from 4 years of observation as an instructor.

There's probably a much higher percentage of women who dance more when they are young, so get some grounding on rhythm, but the simple truth remains that one doesn't get an advantage of being good with timing simply by the attribute of being female.

To say that women don't usually have trouble is misleading and will actually make many feel worse if they don't automatically get the rhythm - this will always have an adverse effect. I tell people categorically that if they hear such a statement from any instructor, to take it with a cupful of salt.
 

Jag75

Active Member
#63
On "Fault":
The first time I heard a statement similar to that, it was regarding men's (in)ability to stay on the beat. According to that instructor, beginning men had difficulty staying on the beat, and women usually didn't.

By the time I took my first dance class, I had already been singing in choirs for 18-20 years. Keeping the beat was easy for me. Most of the follows that I danced with had no difficulty with the beat either. But there were exceptions. And thanks to this instructor's statement, those followers assumed that the leaders were the ones to blame. As long as you're convinced that your mistake is the other person's fault, you're unlikely to figure out how to fix it.

How good instructors teach:
A good instructor will point out the common mistakes that leaders can make which will cause a problem, then they will point out the common mistakes that followers can make which will cause a problem. (Or they'll do the same in the reverse order.)

What a good leader can't fix:
Connection. It only takes one person to screw that up. If that person is the follower, even a great leader can't fix it.

I once watched a pro try to dance with a woman who has poor connection. I wanted to see if he would be able to do any better dancing with her than I did. Despite his skill, it was still a train wreck.

Even the simplest social moves can/will fall apart without connection.

Too low level for the class:
When it comes to dance classes, I've seen two types of attitudes. There are some people who will observe a more advanced class, they will focus on the best dancers in the class, and they will be convinced that they aren't good enough to join the class. There are other people who will observe the same class, they will focus on the worst dancers in the class, and they will be convinced that they are ready to join the class.

The people who rush in and join when they are near/at/below the bottom end of the class tend to stay there ... even after they've been in the class for years. The ones who stay in lower level classes until they're finally persuaded that they're ready to move up, they quickly move to the top of the class.

Why students rush ahead:
I think many dance students fundamentally misunderstand what makes the difference between a good/bad dancer.

Beginners want to learn:
more moves
complicated patterns
fancy footwork
styling
acrobatics

Advanced dancers prefer partners who know:
frame & connection
rhythm & timing
smooth leads
balance
technique
(optionally) musicality

No beginning dance teacher ever explains that. If they did, beginning dancers might be more interested in frame/connection and less interested in footwork and complicated patterns.

On rotating:
I'm a big fan of it. Dancing with one partner is a sure-fire route to developing bad habits. Instead of quickly discovering that they're doing it wrong, each partner adapts and covers for their partner's bad habits. As soon as they dance with someone else (who isn't accustomed to their bad habits), it's painfully obvious how poor their dancing is.

There's only two kinds of dance classes where I'm not a fan of rotating:
Acrobatics (they're not social moves)
"Dirty"/intimate/sexy moves (they're not social moves either)

Generalist,
If a follower doesn't know how to do a whip step, she's more likely to follow a well executed reverse whip, as long as you start from cross-hands. She get's the opening walk-walk from your prep. Even if she doesn't prep, you can still get her to do the 180 turn as you accelerate her into 3&4.

By &4 you're in closed, so you just have to decelerate as you reverse her momentum into the next walk-walk. Even if she's expecting a triple-step, she's still highly likely to do a walk-walk because:
she's in closed position
you've slowed her down
you're leading her with your own center of gravity
you're doing a walk-walk

After that, the only thing she can screw up is the anchor.

A beginning follow is more likely to mess up on a regular whip step. They can sabotage the timing of that one by breaking frame as you try to turn them on(/before/around) 2.

Jag75,
I would like to give an exception that occurred during social dancing. I was out at a country western club, so I asked an occasional two-step partner if she knew how to waltz. She said she did, so we went out on the floor.

It quickly became a train wreck. We had trouble with twinkles. We had trouble with circle turns. We had trouble with basics. Finally I just asked her:

Me: "How much waltz have you taken?"
Her: "I've never learned any waltz, but you're a good lead, so I figured you could just lead me through it."

I can blame a follow for not having a certain level of knowledge.

She bought into this myth. Because of that, she thought she could dance beyond her level ... with a good enough lead.
I totally agree with all of the above - all of it spot on from my own experience as well :)

One thing I always do when teaching beginners is repeat the importance of connection and frame, and that a well executed lead is much more important than learning 1000 moves. The students take this really well, and I'm surprised more instructors don't do that based on fear that they'll lose students. If you treat your students with respect that's all you need to keep them coming, even if you occasionally go into some technique that they may find a bit boring, explaining to them why it's important makes them feel like you're treating them as intelligent beings. Some instructors will simply have the attitude that "It's because I say it is" and leave it at that, which leaves many feeling like they're being treated contemptuously. Also it shows the instructor doesn't actually understand the reasons why something is done in a certain way.

In dancing *all* technique, including the "window dressing" of styling, has a purpose. In salsa proper styling actually assists in the dynamic of the lead/follow, and I assume in WCS it's the same. To explain why styling is done a certain way, rather than saying "because it looks pretty", actually engages the students more and makes them appreciate the dance more.

Back on topic - I do agree that if a dancer has virtually no knowledge of a dance and pretends to, then it's fair enough to say in that instance it's their own fault if they can't follow anything.
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
#64
exactly....on occasion, I will have an opportunity to show one of the engaged couples that I counsel a step or two...and I always show connection first... they are always grateful...because I show how, with it, you can move in any direction and your partner will feel it, and without it you can't do a thing...and I always show how both people have to have it or it won't work...I do that before I have them even try their first box step...precisely so that it won't be a wet hot mess....I also occasionally do a little summer workshop for no charge for my neighbors and I do the same thing...when they see how relevant it is for even modest success they don't mind it....
 

Generalist

Active Member
#66
On "Fault":


If a follower doesn't know how to do a whip step, she's more likely to follow a well executed reverse whip, as long as you start from cross-hands. She get's the opening walk-walk from your prep. Even if she doesn't prep, you can still get her to do the 180 turn as you accelerate her into 3&4.
I have yet to encounter a lady that couldn't do a whip but could do a reverse, although I'll concede that by random chance it might happen. They never get the alternate timing although if you put them in cross-hand hold and yank them hard enough they will have no choice but to "follow".

In my OP I didn't explain that yanking women around should never be construed as leading even though that's what it takes to get newbie women to do contrived patterns that seem to be the norm for too many group instructors.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#67
and yank them hard enough they will have no choice but to "follow"
OK. Gotta share. Argentine Tango. If you're going to learn it in Portland, be prepared to dance either role.
So this older guy, (well he looks older than me, but maybe not) offers to be the "b*tch," (I am NOT making this up.) which I didn't think was the best course of action, but...

So, when I have to dance in place because there is no room to move forward, he gets totally confused. "Do you want me to give you a tip?" he says. Umm (No not really. I couldn't be that he wasn't good at following.)
"Here let me show you." Where upon he grabs me by the shoulders and pushes and pulls me. I say, "Really, do you do this often?" "I do it all the time." And wished him luck with that.

See why I stopped taking lessons a long time ago?
 
#72
They never get the alternate timing although if you put them in cross-hand hold and yank them hard enough they will have no choice but to "follow".
Generalist, follows aren't supposed to do the alternate timing because they've learned it. They're supposed to do it because your lead tells them that's the timing.

If you accelerate, they'll do a triple. If you decelerate, they'll do a walk-walk. It works just fine even when you lead them through the acceleration/deceleration smoothly.

The alternate timing happens during the part when you have her in closed position. The follow isn't going to run her feet faster than you're moving her shoulders. At most, tell the follow, "Forget the normal count and just follow my lead." With that simple instruction, I can put a newbie follow through an easy extension, a rock-and-go, and even some more complex moves.

This isn't about "yanking." It's about understanding the mechanics of what leads a follow through a triple versus a walk-walk.
 
#73
Generalist, follows aren't supposed to do the alternate timing because they've learned it. They're supposed to do it because your lead tells them that's the timing.
Your statement is a vast oversimplification because women must understand the different timings. The lead tells them the timing because the follow knows what timing goes with what lead.Unfortunately most follows never advance beyond basic whips because they never learn timing basics.

Bottom line is this: If follows don't know what they are doing there is often nothing a lead can do other than throw her or jerk her around. That's why so many of these ladies have sore shoulders.

It would help if leads didn't lead ladies anymore than they can follow, but ego, ignorance, etc. often gets in their way.

If you accelerate, they'll do a triple. If you decelerate, they'll do a walk-walk. It works just fine even when you lead them through the acceleration/deceleration smoothly.
WCS beginners will often get the triple, but they often flub timing like walk-walk-walk-walk.

The alternate timing happens during the part when you have her in closed position. The follow isn't going to run her feet faster than you're moving her shoulders. At most, tell the follow, "Forget the normal count and just follow my lead." With that simplhen instruction, I can put a newbie follow through an easy extension, a rock-and-go, and even some more complex moves.
Many whips don't use closed position. Those types of moves give the follows the most chance to flub the move, and they often do. I disagree that follows must move the feet in sync with the leads shoulder -- I have seen them do any number of things with their feet to keep up. With luck, or enough throwing around by the lead, some of these follows will end up in the right place at the right time, but it ain't pretty!!

Lately it seems that going off the track is in vogue. I have had women practically wrestle me to the ground rather than to step off the track. Blame my lead if you want but ladies should never resist leads, no matter how weird they may seem.
 
#74
I admire some of them leads here for the gallantry as they are so willing to swallow the sword for follows that flub the moves. I still haven't seen a good argument made that would support the quote from my OP.
 

Hedwaite

Well-Known Member
#75
I have noticed that beginners want to dance WCS "walk, walk, triple step, walk, walk, triple step"- they have kind of a hangup on wanting to "balance" things?
 
#76
Lately it seems that going off the track is in vogue. I have had women practically wrestle me to the ground rather than to step off the track. Blame my lead if you want but ladies should never resist leads, no matter how weird they may seem.
The off-slot thing, just like the coaster thing, are there so instructors can keep having things to teach, by expanding the dance. Some dancers do it, others don't.

In any case, if followers don't subscribe to off-slotting, then leaders shouldn't expect it. It's an invitation that's declined.

There will be many situations where the implicit "understanding" of slot-orientation works in the leader's favor, such as when the lead/connection is poor and the follower is mis-directed off-track but does auto-correction.
 
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#77
Your statement is a vast oversimplification because women must understand the different timings. The lead tells them the timing because the follow knows what timing goes with what lead.
Is that really your experience? I routinely lead rock-and-gos and extensions to women who have never been taught them. These women don't even know that those syncopations are part of the dance.

If the woman has good connection, she doesn't need to understand the timing. The lead will tell her exactly which timing goes with the move.

Heck, having the woman "know" the timing can kill the move. Last night we were learning four different variations on the same move (a wrap to a hip catch with a free-spin out). Each variation had a different timing...
Hit the line on 5: 1, 2, 3&4&5, 6, 7&8, 9&10
Hit the line on 6: 1, 2, 3&4, 5, 6, &7&8, 9&10
Don't hit a line: 1, 2, 3&4, 5&6, 7&8, 9&10
Spin and hit the line on 7: 1, 2, 3&4, 5&6, 7, 8, 9&10, 11&12

The ladies who were the hardest to lead were the ones who were trying to count the time. They were trying to move their feet on the right beat, instead of moving their feet as my lead told them to. Understanding the timing lowered their chances of hitting the timing correctly (even if they knew in advance which variation we were doing).

Unfortunately most follows never advance beyond basic whips because they never learn timing basics.
I would say they don't advance beyond that because they never learn connection basics.

If a woman has learned connection, and she's gotten to where she's mastered the basic whip step, I feel comfortable throwing most non-standard timing at her. She'll be able to follow it without having to think about it. (She'll follow it better if she doesn't think about it.)

Bottom line is this: If follows don't know what they are doing there is often nothing a lead can do other than throw her or jerk her around. That's why so many of these ladies have sore shoulders.
According to my instructor, that's exactly what happens when a follow has poor connection. The leads frequently overcompensate for the poor connection, which results in a stronger/jerkier lead than normal.

WCS beginners will often get the triple, but they often flub timing like walk-walk-walk-walk.
If you're dancing with a beginner, lead the first walk-walk-walk-walk from closed position. Maintain the exact same distance from her the entire time. Make sure that you're in the slot facing her.

Your results will improve.

Many whips don't use closed position.
The majority hit closed position for 3&4. Most of the exceptions have the follow in a 2-hand open position for 3&4. (Or the obvious exception of a basket whip, which has her in a 2-hand waist wrap on 3&4.)

Those types of moves give the follows the most chance to flub the move, and they often do.
If you're having difficulty leading the follow from a 2-hand open position, then you're holding your hands too close together. Keep your hands about 4 feet apart at waist level, and you'll have almost as much control over her shoulders as if you were in closed.

If you're doing a whip where there's a 1-hand open lead on 3&4, I agree that there's more room for error. (You're less connected to your partner, so there's more opportunity for the connection/frame to come unglued at the wrong moment.) If you can't use one arm for some reason, then I can see why you might be using these moves regularly. Otherwise, I can't see a good reason to lead these to new dancers on a regular basis.

In addition, some of these moves force the follow to travel further than she would in a normal 8-count move. That alone can sabotage the move unless the lead compensates to shorten the distance traveled.

I disagree that follows must move the feet in sync with the leads shoulder
That explains a lot of your problems. I don't expect the follow to move her feet in sync with my shoulders. I expect her to move her feet in sync with her shoulders.

I'll usually lead her shoulders by moving my shoulders. (It's easier to get a clean, clear, smooth and gentle lead that way.) But it's possible to lead her shoulders just with my arms.

If you're trying to lead a follow just by moving your shoulders (and not by moving hers), then the lack of connection is on your end. It's possible to get someone to follow you just through a visual lead, but that's an advanced technique. Generally, visual leads are meant to complement actual leads. They're not meant to replace them.

I have seen them do any number of things with their feet to keep up. With luck, or enough throwing around by the lead, some of these follows will end up in the right place at the right time, but it ain't pretty!!
Here's a trick that separates good leads from mediocre ones:

When necessary, we take extra time.

Some new dancers will be a little slow going through a double-spin. If she takes 7 beats to finish the move (instead of 6), I'll kill an extra beat to get us back on time. If she gets done in 6 beats but is off balance, I'll kill two extra beats so she's on her feet and on the beat.

Granted, it makes musicality a bit more challenging, but most onlookers won't notice if I miss a hit in the music (or even a break). They will notice if my partner is stumbling or falling down.

About the only "uncorrectable" mistake from a follower is for her to break connection and do the first walk-walk before I lead it.

Lately it seems that going off the track is in vogue. I have had women practically wrestle me to the ground rather than to step off the track. Blame my lead if you want but ladies should never resist leads, no matter how weird they may seem.
This gets into something that my instructor refers to as "betting odds" and "safe bets."

Let's say that we're watching a video of a random couple social dancing. The first time that the lead starts a sugar push, I pause the video at beat 4. What would you bet that beats 5&6 will be?

If this is a random couple that neither of us has watched before, I'm betting on 5&6 being an anchor. It's not the only possibility. (The lead could do an extension or a rock-and-go.) But if I bet on an anchor every single time, I'll win money more often than I lose it.

The anchor is the "safe bet."

Barring a lead that clearly instructs her to do otherwise, the follow should do an anchor. And unless I give a clear lead that instructs her to do otherwise, I expect the follow to do an anchor.

In your first WCS lesson, you were taught that the follow dances in the slot. The lead moves in and out of the slot. I'll guarantee that all of the follows were taught the exact same thing. In more advanced classes, we're taught that the dance can move out of the slot, or the dance can move into a different slot. It's not done frequently, but it's a possibility.

Follows are led off the slot accidentally by poor/inexperienced leads far more often than they are deliberately led off the slot by good/experienced leads. Therefore, the "safe bet" is for the follow to assume that it's an accident and adjust accordingly.

Furthermore, it's a sufficiently advanced technique that I don't expect an unknown follow to know it. I don't expect more advanced follows to be accustomed to it. Therefore, the "safe bet" is for me to assume that she'll try to avoid moving off the slot.

If you're doing something that "seems weird," you're no longer leading a move that's a "safe bet" as a social move.

It would help if leads didn't lead ladies anymore than they can follow, but ego, ignorance, etc. often gets in their way.
So, how do you reconcile that belief with wrestling women in order to get them to dance off the slot?
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#78
beginners want to dance WCS "walk, walk, triple step, walk, walk, triple step
Can't say for sure what they are thinking, but WCS includes those types of "8 count" patterns with those steps, but that is not usually what is taught first. You usually start with "6 count" patterns.
Then, there is the oft asked question, how / why 6 count patterns to "8 count" phrasing and such.
 

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