Cuban Salsa, still a couple’s dance?

 
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I don’t know if this is the case for you but I have the impression that more and more dancers are no longer dancing as a couple but are physically separated and connected by some glance. Everyone lives his experience on his side, each for himself (or maybe one against the other?).

It is a phenomenon that I have the impression to see and even to feel because I am surprised to participate in its reinforcement at times.

How did we get here?

Is it because we are making progress alone? In this case, is working alone a “background task” or a main objective?

 

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The hypothesis

Starting from the premise that partnership and complicity in Salsa are less present than before, there would be for me two cases that would lead to it :

  • The dancer who has worked individually on his style and who is concentrated to set his moves in real situation without consideration of external elements (partner, music, space, floor…)*
  • The dancer who wants to prove what he/she is capable of (to his/her partner or the audience)
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What is a good "dancer"?

When you are a beginner, do you think I want to learn to dance salsa like “Him” or “Her”, or I want to learn to dance salsa like “this couple”? I think the answer to that question depends on everyone.

In both cases how would one define a good or very good dancer?

The question was asked of teachers, partners, and people watching other couples dance.

Here is a summary of the most relevant comments for me:

  • Teachers and Maestros: A good dancer is someone who dances justly. Who proposes and carries out a movement with fluidity at the most convenient moment.
    In the case of a professional dancer it is his ability to convey emotions.
  • Partners: A good dancer is someone who is in exchange with his or her partner, who proposes and does not impose only
  • Audience: A good dancer is someone who fascinates. He’s also someone who gives an impression of ease

All these answers are really interesting. To conclude this part before continuing, I can ask you who are you following more, your teacher, your partner or the audience? I think that will be your answer which is the remaining one, the point of view of the dancer himself above all.

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A dance where you progress individually?

In any case it seems that today, the recrudescence of salsa con X courses, and training courses without a partner (reggaeton, Salsa Suelta…) have made that we have nevertheless strengthened our individual progression rather than that of a couple. These styling classes are very beneficial for the progression (I give some besides), but they are for me complements and not courses which are used as basis to start dancing.

On the last events and festivals that I was able to do I was also amazed by the number of courses that were given individually. Even the so-called Timba workshops were ultimately individual choreographies. There are fewer and fewer Son/Casino couple classes… Moreover, Chacha’s classes have been neglected by the schools/evenings/festivals, whereas the musical genre is popular (to everyone when asked) and is particularly successful in the Mambo /”Porto” festivals.

For the organizers I can understand that the courses in couple pose several constraints:

  • Number of partners men / women as equal as possible
  • Partner level for progress

However the solution is simple and as in traditional courses it is to change partners very regularly or make pre-bookings of courses as many already do.

So I don’t think the reason is there, but rather that it’s the “trend”. The organizers only meet the expectations of amateurs (in the passionate sense).

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It is true that it is much easier to work alone. You can work on moves at any time and with fewer constraints. Finding a regular partner who wants to work on the same movements or figures is not easy. Also to be in constant progress, working alone becomes essential.

An evening being a place of practice or a laboratory for many, we concentrate perhaps more on placing moves that we have seen individually than on living the present moment with our partner?

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A Collective Sport!

 

From the moment you practice a “team sport” (2 lol), individuals can win a match but also lose it!

To make the parallel with team sports (Football, Basketball, Handball…), the sum of individualities does not necessarily make a good team. We see it in the middle of the World Cup where the team with the best players can be beaten by a “weaker” team on paper but with much more cohesion.
A strong individuality like Griezmann or Neymar can win a match but can it win a championship or a competition in the long run?

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In short, we can make a great dance by being inspired individually but in the long run we will expect a certain limit and that does not necessarily make us a good dancer.

Moreover, dance should not become a bidding war on who dances the most, being part of the same team. It is not the dancer who must shine but the couple if we are in this “mini show” process.

In Cuba there is a sentence that says: “He is not the one who dances the most but the one who dances the best”. I often say this sentence just like my friend Cristian Mauricio because our maestros kept telling us.

 

Is it really beneficial In Fine? I put myself in the shoes of the passionate and teacher and not the organizer (as usual lol). So I’m taking out the accounting part.

Dance is the balance between the rider and the rider and between the dancers and the music so I think this balance must also be maintained in learning. For me the priority is the connection between the partner and the understanding of the music.

The Partner or the Music?

 
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So which is more important, Partner or Music?

Well, both of them. It’s like choosing between your wife and your mother lol
Easy to say hahahaha

Some music has so many musical breaks like El Bembe by Maykel Blanco (above) that it would be a waste not to mark them when you love music. The ideal would be to improvise them always respecting a balance between her and him, or either guide him. What suddenly becomes much more complex.

 

More and more you can see in the evening that the dancers become very musical and it’s great.
They also respect more and more musical genres, especially Rumba. But it must still remain a “dance for two” with physical or visual contact, including the musical performance phase.

Well that would be in a perfect world and without emotions because often the music acts so loud on us that we forget where we live, with whom we are… You might even wonder if it’s not a dream (it’s real life!). When I was at some concerts, at the 1st Guaguanco Festival in Barcelona or at VIC <3 )

Dancing permanently in control would no longer be social (or professional) dance?

However, in this “perfect” hypothesis. Guidance for men and its interpretation for women become the most important elements for this success. It is not possible with all and all according to the levels of each one, speed and knowledge of music of course, but especially because we forgot that the connection (Communication and Guidance) is what makes the strength of the dance with two and that we begin to lose sight of it !

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It would be interesting to see the courses of guidance, movement, contactless communication… which finally are not necessarily dependent on a style of dance but on a state of mind, that of “dancing in pairs”.

This reflection came because I also feel it in my dance, and I want it to change and know how to keep moving forward. We learn every day and even more in a dance and a culture that are not our own “origin”. This is also part of our kiff.

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The dance remains above all a pleasure this text is addressed especially to the passionate ones who still want and always to progress.

What do you say, I‘d be really interested to get your point of view. For that do not hesitate to comment on facebook to write to me on fares.shanguito@bailacubano.com

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Guiroooooooo – Farès Shanguito

 

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