Comment

DanceInTime on TV and in the News

TV APPEARANCES

1.  On the Fox 5 News

On April 4, 06, Holly Morris of Fox 5 News interviewed Barb Bernstein and featured her the DanceInTime crew on her Morning News show.  First we demonstrated the dance at the intermediate and advanced levels, and then we taught Holly very basic moves so she could join us in a beginners Rueda dance.  

It was a real kick.  Holly was having so much fun as she bantered with Barb on the air, that she did something which I understand is very unusual.  She gave our group extra TV air time.  To see video clips of this fun, click on the links below.
Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3

 

DanceInTime Demos on TV

Click here for Part 1

 

Above: Fox 5 news covers DanceInTime, 4/8/06

2.  DanceInTime on the Comcast Sportsnet channel

Click Here (note: may take 30 seconds to download)

3.  DanceInTime on the ABC News

Click Here

4.  DanceInTime on the Fox 45 Morning News in Baltimore

Click Here

 

Above:  Dancers from DIT on Baltimore's Fox Morning News clip about Salsa

5.  DanceInTime on the "Voice of America" News Station
On March 23, 2013, newscasters Raza Nqvi and Shonali Sen from the Voice of America came to DanceInTime's Saturday class to film for their TV channel.  We taught the newscasters, learned some moves and some of the dancing was to Anthony Francis Rosado's original music! He sang the lyrics as well! To see this, click on: http://www.urduvoa.com/media/video/1630913.html
(The clips of dancing are at: 2:20 to 5:15; 8:45 to 9:50; 17:55 to 18:45 and 22:45 to 23:30.)

 

 

Above: Cameraman films newscasters as for a segment on Hispanic Americans in DC for the Voice of America channel.

 

Above: Barb explains basic steps to the newscasters for the film segment!

 

 

Click here to download this video in SD (360p).

Click here to download this video in HD (720p).

 

6.  DanceInTime on Channel 19 in Montgomery County, Channel 30 in Fairfax County, Channel 76 in Prince Georges County and Channel 95 in Washington, DC

In the fall of 2007, DanceInTime organized a Ballroom and Latin dance segment that appeared on the ChezaTVShow in the counties and cities listed above.  A few video clips of that are below.  

Click Here 

Click Here 

Click Here

----------------------------------------------------------------

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES ON DANCEINTIME

1. From The Washington Post's Weekend Section 6/17/05

"On the Move: Salsa For One And All"

By Rebecca R. Kahlenberg; Special to The Washington Post

Friday, June 17, 2005; Page WE56

IT'S SATURDAY morning, and the parking lots at Safeway, Giant and Whole Foods along Route 123 in McLean are packed with minivans and SUVs. But in a lower-level room in a nondescript brown building tucked away along the same stretch of road in Vienna, it feels more like Havana than suburbia. Salsa blares in Spanish as dance instructor Barb Bernstein leads a class in casino rueda , a form of salsa dancing also known as salsa rueda .About 15 students ranging in age from their twenties to their sixties have been divided into couples and stand in a circle.

"Back on the right and forward on the left!" Bernstein directs. "Back on the left, forward on the right!" Bernstein walks the class through the basic step, called guapea, several times.

She also explains that the constant rhythm of casino rueda is "Quick-quick-slow." Then she calls out "Dame una," another basic step that involves a partner exchange, and each student gets a new person to dance with.Casino rueda is roughly analogous to Western square dancing.

Both styles have a caller who shouts out moves (or signals them with his hands, in the case of casino rueda), both involve couples changing partners and there is a pattern to the progression of both dances. Indeed, some people refer to casino rueda as "Latin square dancing," Bernstein says, admitting that the term makes rueda experts shudder because the styles are so different. Casino rueda, she says pointedly, is "sharper and more sexy."

Weekend drop-in sessions at Bernstein's Vienna location start at the beginner level. An hour or so into each class, she begins to call out more advanced steps, which are longer and often more difficult to execute than basic moves. Today, a few students choose to sit out and watch the more challenging moves, but most have casino rueda experience and continue dancing.

Her students return week after week in part to gain more dance proficiency, but for other reasons as well."We love it," says Niss Albraig, 39. He and his wife, Alexandra, 35, have traveled from Owings Mills and left their two young children in the care of grandparents to attend the class for the fourth time. "It's always a challenge and gets our hearts going," Niss Albraig says. Alexandra Albraig agrees. "It's a good workout," she says. "And once you get going, it makes you sweat."

Norman Froomer, 58, of Vienna began coming a year ago when he moved to the area from New Orleans. "Usually, the man has to think about what to do next, and there is a certain anxiety about leading," he says. "That anxiety goes away here because there's a caller."

Falls Church resident Gilda Ascunce, 57, has been taking the class since November. "The music is very much in me," she says, explaining that she was born in Cuba and lived there until she was 13. "But I like casino rueda better than regular salsa because it's a group thing, which makes it more fun."

Jeanette Ortiz, 39, of Arlington, who has been dancing casino rueda for about 10 years, loves "the fact that people here are different ages and come from different cultural backgrounds, yet they share this one passion for dancing. It's almost like belonging to a club where you find kindred spirits." .....

-------------------------------------------------------------------

2.  From the Washington Post Sports Writer, Dan Steinberg's "blog" on July 23, 2007

This article followed an evening at the Bowie Baysox Stadium where DanceInTime conducted a Dancing with the Stars program with local celebrities. The celebrities were Washington Post writer Dan Steinberg and ABC's Weatherman Brian van de Graaff.  We taught them Merengue moves behind the scenes during the first six innings. They then performed their "Merengue routines" on the field during breaks in the game.  It was all great fun; these guys were wonderful to work with, and the action was captured on camera.  Videos of this event were shown on both the Comcast Sports channel and the ABC News!  Below are sections of Steinberg's blog about the experience!

ARTICLE BY STEINBERG JULY 23, 07
....Luckily, the only sporting event I came in personal contact with this weekend was the Bowie Baysox game on Saturady night. Unluckily, I was there for "Dancing With the Stars" night, for which someone had decided I was proper material to be one of the dancing stars. This meant that four equally unlucky instructors fromDanceInTime.com were forced to listen to me wailing about my rhythmic deficiencies for seven innings, until I finally was allowed to go on the field and attempt to Meringue Merengue for 80 seconds, at which time I promptly forgot all my steps and sort of wobbled about the third-base line with my partners.... The instructors were very nice and kind and gentle, and their company should be properly patronized, but I was awful.

My competition was WJLA's popular weather person Brian van de Graaff, who, thanks to years of being On Your Side, had lots of fans who were clearly On His Side. Also, he is naturally blessed with what the instructors called "Cuban Motion." Trust me, I am not.

Anyhow, I need a few more days to collect myself, but there will be video of the dance-off on CSN's Washington Post Live tonight, and later on the blog.
By Dan Steinberg |  July 23, 2007; 9:42 AM ET| Category:  Media 

ARTICLE BY DAN STEINBERG, 
SPORTS WRITER FOR THE WASHINGTON POST:
July 25, 2007

I Dance With the Stars----Or whatever.

I really have nothing left to say about this. All my memories of the events of Saturday night have been completely erased...

Actually, I do have some slight memory of this long speech I gave to Barb, one of my instructors, about how this dancing thing was quite the metaphor for life, and how some people are gifted with naturally fluid movements and thus bound joyfully through life with their soaringly optimistic personalities, looking as weightless as Nick Young on a moonbounce, and how others instead move with the grace of Dmitri Young on a treadmill, cruising through life with all the levity of a broken-down minivan traversing Benning Road, and that whether you can dance is probably in some ways a fine measure of all these other issues of lightness and weight, but maybe I'm just imagining all that. 

And try not to watch the dancing portions of what follows on an empty stomach.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTM9h1Q7K7s

 

2.  From the Kennedy Center News---March/April 2003 Edition

Article on AmericaArtes: The Kennedy Center Celebrates the Arts of Latin America

Performance Plus

Friday, March 14, experience the intricate footwork and comlex choreographiy of the form of salsa dancing called Rueda with an exciting performance demonstration by Salsa Linea on the Millenium Stage.

(Note that the date of this show at the Kennedy Center was subsequently moved back after the Kennedy Center News magazine was published!  Salsa Linea is the name of the previous Salsa Rueda group that was co-directed with Gary Pennington by Barbara Bernstein.  To see this show, click on the button above titled "The Kennedy Center Show" and you can watch the entire one-hour show on your computer screen.)

------------------------------------------------------------
4.   From: The Pentagram

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, VA
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Joint Base celebrates Hispanic Heritage
By LaTrina Antoine, Pentagram Staff Writer

 

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Soldiers, civilian workers and other servicemembers gathered in the community center Wednesday to participate in a Hispanic heritage observance by the equal opportunity office. The event ran from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Hispanic Heritage Month starts on Sept. 15 and continues through Oct. 15.

The Hispanic heritage observance is a way to honor and increase the awareness and knowledge about the vast contributions and achievements Hispanics have made in the advancement of America in history and today.

The ballroom in the community center was decorated with Hispanic-centric paintings, photographs, table settings, piñatas and colors. Beaded necklaces of peppers were handed out to guests. A pre-program slide show prepared by Sgt. 1st Class Tiffany Reed of Walter Reed Army Medical Center displaying information about various Latin countries and cultural significances played on the stage.

After Richert’s speech, Dance in Time Productions performed and educated people on various dances in Hispanic culture. ‘‘The role of music and dance is more unique in Hispanic culture. It’s pervasive and has a larger role in the lives of people from Latin countries,” said Barbara Bernstein, chief executive officer and owner. Dancers from the dance company represented various Hispanic countries including Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The group also consisted of non-Hispanic members whose love of dance and music drew them to the cultures exotic rhythms and movements. ‘‘Our goal is to have other people enjoy and appreciate Latin dance and culture. It’s something very dear to our hearts that we try to export,” Bernstein said.

After the first half of the presentation, guests were fed authentic Hispanic dishes. The second part of the event allowed guests to work off the food they ate, as they took lessons on Salsa dancing.

Estes also commented, ‘‘I asked a Soldier recently if they would like to volunteer to assist with the Hispanic Heritage Month observance. The Soldier replied, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not Hispanic, I’m a Native American Indian.’ I replied, ‘come closer please so that I might share a secret with you,’ and I whispered, ‘Don’t tell anyone, but I’m African American.’ The Soldier understood the lesson without explanation.” 

Click here to read more newspaper articles.

Comment

1 Comment

En Espanol: Class Information in Spanish

Información en español

Doy clases de salsa y coordino espectáculos de danza latina.

Si desea venir a clase, no hace falta hacer una reservación ni venir en pareja.  La vestimenta es informal.  La clase es para divertirse bailando Rueda y para conocer nueva gente.  Por lo general, hay alguien que habla español en clase.

Emergence Community Arts Collective:  Enseño cada sábado de 1:00 a 3:00 PM en el Emergence Community Arts Collective.  Dirección:  733 Euclid Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001.  El precio de entrada es $10.00.  Grupos de cinco o más personas pagan $8.00 por persona.

El Emergence Community Arts Collective está a siete cuadras de la estación de metro de Howard University/Shaw.  Para más detalles visite:

 

Además de las clases, organizo presentaciones de bailes latinos que a veces son breves y simples, y a veces son programas largos en los que participa la audiencia.  Si desea ver una de las presentaciones, pulse el siguiente enlace.  Pulse  aquí y aquí.

Si tiene interés en clases de bailes latinos o en presentaciones para algún evento, póngase en contacto con Barbara Bernstein, Directora de DanceInTime.com.  Puede también comunicarse conmigo por correo electrónico en esta dirección:  BarbBtalks@aol.com.

Espero verlos pronto en clase.

1 Comment

Comment

Articles by Barb Bernstein

For an article on how to pursue learning to dance, read below. This
was published in The Scene Magazine.


Patience, Practice and the Pursuit of Excellence

March 15, 2009
by Barbara Bernstein

An old joke goes as follows: A woman walking down a street in New York City
stopped a passer-by and asked, "Excuse me, but can you tell me how to get to
Carnegie Hall?" The gentleman answered, "Practice, practice, practice!"

A new book out by Malcolm Gladwell (author of Blink) makes a startling
proposition about how to explain exceptional talent. Gladwell describes a
principle he calls "the 10,000 hour" rule. He says that to be very
outstanding at some skill-like a top flight pro tennis player-requires
10,000 hours of practice. That amounts to 20 hours a week for 10 years.

Whether you train to perform or just dance for fun, the same rules apply:
you just cannot become highly skilled without lots of practice; and you
cannot get a lot of practice without being comfortable making mistakes,
picking yourself up and trying again. No matter how talented someone appears
when they dance, they didn't start out that way. They made mistakes and kept
on trying.

Just as children learn to walk before they run, students of dance learn to
do things slowly before accelerating. It is best to learn new material first
to very slow music and once the move is in muscle memory, gradually kick up
the pace.

Slow tempos are very "forgiving." For example, if you have excess motion in
your lead, you may be able to slog through a move to a slow speed. But a
faster speed requires greater cleanliness to get through the move, which can
be done once you have practiced the move enough to commit it to muscle
memory.

It's important to recognize that knowing something is really a matter of
degree, rather than all or nothing. You don't simply know or not know how to
do a cross body lead, for example. You start out doing it hesitantly and
with awkwardness, and the more you practice, the more confident and smooth
the movement becomes.

Dancers may feel that they already know a move, and understandably want to
learn new moves rather than review what they know. But since learning is
incremental, the more you do it, the better you'll do it (at faster tempos,
with less thought, adding embellishments).

That smoothness and improved technique is what makes you feel good to dance
with and look great on the floor.

Barbara Bernstein is a Rueda de Casino Teacher and Director of
DanceInTimeProductions.

 

 

The following article was published in the December 09 issue of Latin Beat Magazine.

The Seven Sins of Salsa

By Barbara Bernstein and Glen Minto aka: Salsero


So you wanna learn how to dance salsa? Maybe you're already an aspiring salsero/salsera wanting to take your dancing to the next level. Well, congratulations - you found us! We're about to show you how to take your dancing to the next level by listing things to avoid when dancing. After years of discussing some of the finer points of dancing, two dedicated salseros (Barb and Salsero) have compiled their experiences of how to get the most enjoyment and learning out of dancing salsa. "The Seven Sins of Salsa" is a list of common, all-too-human mistakes that most of us make at one time or another (the authors included!). Avoiding these mistakes will help you get the most out of your dancing. By gaining skill and making your dance experience a joyful way to exercise and connect with others, you will have heaps of fun dancing salsa and gradually learn to dance better and better. 

So here goes… The Seven Sins of Salsa

1a. Leading Yourself (for ladies) - by Barb
Dancing is a partnership activity that requires a coordinated effort by both the leader and the follower. As we all know, a person can feel and indeed be very alone in a crowded room, as connection is really a mental state. Likewise, one can dance with another person and not be responsive to them or be aware of them. For ladies, what this would mean is anticipating what the leader is doing and moving herself without waiting for or responding to his lead. Ladies often don't realize they are doing this when they are! A good example is that a lady may sense that a turn is coming and turn herself without waiting to be led. Or she may get the beginning of the lead and then move herself through the turn faster than the leader was leading her to turn. In both cases, she is not moving as he leads her, but has "taken over the lead." This is unsatisfying for the leader because, in a sense, he's not really needed. Even in Rueda de Casino, the follower should wait for the lead even though she knows the move!

1b. Out-Shining The Ladies (for men) - by Salsero
Let's face it guys, the ladies are just sexier than we are. Thank goodness too! But seriously, when the ladies look good, we look good. When the ladies don't look good dancing, we don't – no matter how good we are. Trust me on this one guys, you do NOT want to be one of those salseros that does all the cool tricks, dips, and shines, with a lady that just started dancing two weeks ago – even if you know how to do the cool tricks, dips, and shines. What do I mean? Let's examine a typical scenario: You're dancing with the girl and suddenly you decide you want some "me time." You give the lady a free spin and let her do her thing while you do your thing. If you see the lady doesn't know what to do, or she's only doing the basic steps instead of a really cool eye-catching shine, then don't overdo it with your shine either. Always be mindful of your partner's ability to dance and the level she's dancing at. Doing so will go a long way in helping you master leading in general and help you increase your skill in dancing with multiple ladies. Think about it this way: Would you rather dance with one beautiful girl at a night club or all the beautiful girls at a night club? If the answer is with all the beautiful girls, then try not to commit the sin of out-shining your lady!

2. Dancing Off Time/Out of Rhythm to the Music - by Barb

Ahhh... Dancing off time - the dancer's nightmare! 

First, we have to discuss what this means. If a person breaks on 3 or 4 instead of his intended 1 or 2, but does so consistently, is that off time? The answer to that depends on your definition of "off time." My own concept of being off time is not dancing in the rhythm of the music. To me, dancing consistently on any beat may not be fully correct, but the timing is predictable to your partner. It's keeping the music's tempo, at least. The most egregious meaning of "off time" is dancing the 4 beats in what is really 4 and a half beats of music, or 3 and a half beats of music, etc. In this case, dancing off time means dancing independently of the music's rhythm or tempo. This creates a disconnect between the movement and the music. The music provides merely a pleasant background to move to, but has no true bearing on the timing of the steps. This scenario is the most serious definition of "off time" and the one that I'm addressing. Sometimes, in such a case, the dancer grasps the beat but cannot make their feet move to that beat – they need practice moving feet faster. If after a lot of practice, the individual still dances this way, it's a good bet they cannot feel the music's beat. It's very hard to teach someone to feel that "musical pulse" if they don't feel it on their own. It feels uncomfortable to his/her partner to dance off beat in this manner because at certain points in time during an 8-beat phrase, dancers are stable and at other points in time they can be moved into a step. If both partners are not in time, then one partner may be trying to move when the other is stable or vice versa. It creates a kind of dance argument or disagreement. The partners are not working together. If you have been told that you have difficulty hearing the beat, you can pay attention to your partner's beat and try to match it even if you aren't hearing the music's beat. That way you are still in-synch with your dance partner. This will go a long way to mitigating the effect of difficulty with the rhythm.

3. Thinking There's Only One Right Way to Dance Salsa - by Barb
People unfortunately sometimes believe that the way they dance is the only right way. We all pick how we like to do things based on principles of what we feel looks best or feels best and natural to us, so of course our way is the way we prefer! Yet, while everything is not "relative" and there are some rights and wrongs, there are also many "acceptable" ways to dance. In Casino Rueda for example, there are often countless ways to do any given move as well as ways to style it. It's best to think of these approaches as just that: variable approaches rather than right or wrong ways to dance. This is particularly important in making a dancer flexible so he/she can dance with anyone. We all dance comfortably with our dance class friends or dance teammates. However, the world is populated by many who aren't in that set, and to dance with them, a great deal of flexibility and acceptance is helpful!

4. Learning to Run Before You Walk - by Barb
This refers to dancers trying to learn advanced moves before they get a real handle on the basics. People are naturally attracted to flashy movements, but any lady will tell you that well executed and physically comfortable basics are more fun to do than poorly executed flashy moves. The latter are awkward and can even strain her while basic movements smoothly done can be quite satisfying and she'll show it in how she looks! So, for both leads and follows, be patient with studying the fundamentals as you learn them in layers. First, you get the moves, you smooth them out, and then you grasp them well enough to add styling/flairs. Finally, you grasp the basic elements at a deeper level...and the cycle continues. You learn this material better and better. It's like practicing scales for a musician; it's something you do for a very long time. Once you are very solid on fundamentals, the more advanced moves are easier to grasp, easier to do, and you will execute them more skillfully.

5. Not practicing good dance etiquette - by Barb
This covers a host of "sins!" People can take up too much space on a crowded floor; they can dance to show off ("the sin of pride"); they may invade their partner's space and dance too intimately, etc. There are many etiquette rules than can be breached. Essentially, etiquette is a matter of being considerate of all those around you-your partner as well as others. Good etiquette is also aided by common sense. You don't want to do tricks on a crowded club floor as not only you and your partner, but those around you could get hurt, for example. Likewise, dancing to strut your skills doesn't make your partner feel important. (See sin 1b above). Dancing too close to a partner may also make him/her uncomfortable. If you are watching your partner's reaction, you may be able to read how they are receiving you and make adjustments; it's a matter of caring enough to be sensitive to their signals. This applies equally to those around you at a club!

6a. Assuming That Errors Are Due to Your Partner - by Barb
Most mistakes have some influence from both partners. It's pretty rare that an error is due entirely to one person. If a couple is dancing, for example, and the lady doesn't have quite enough tension in her arms, the man must lead more forcefully to get her to follow. To avoid feeling yanked, the lady may loosen up further. The man must then lead even stronger. Many dance interactions are like this! Don't fall into the trap of thinking that mistakes require that the other person make a correction. Another way to think about this is that if one if the partners changes what he/she does, that alone may avoid a problem, even if the move isn't totally perfect. You can be aware of how to correct an issue even if your partner isn't doing something right, and compensate for them so the move can be executed. You cannot change someone else, you can only change yourself, and people who can compensate for others are much loved on the dance floor as that takes skill and consideration! Think about this: In a class, the teacher can generally dance with everyone and get through all the moves, but the students may have trouble doing the moves with each other. The strength of the teacher's knowledge of the moves enables the partnership to get through the move adequately despite the student's mistakes. So, make it your business to strengthen your own dancing, and don't worry if your partner isn't always doing things the best way.

6b. It's Always The Guy's Fault - NOT!!! (for men) - By Salsero

Salsero here. Ladies, please move on to the next section…this is only for the guys. 

Guys, have you heard that if anything goes wrong it's always the guy's fault? Quite frankly, most of the time, it's the ladies' fault. I mean, I've been hit in the face more times than I can remember (now I'm like a ninja expert at avoiding these unsuspecting hits from nowhere). Actually, the second to last time it happened, about a couple of months ago, I was in the bathroom bleeding for over an hour and had a bruise on my lip for DAYS (grrrr). The last time it happened, I didn't bleed at all but this girl hit me on my jaw so hard, it hurts when I try to yawn - even today! And that's supposed to be "My Fault???" But I digress - this article is about you, not me. Guys, we're men, and so we have to take being hit like a man. Feel me? If a lady hits you in the face, and you know it's entirely her fault, try to smile it off and proceed with extreme caution to finish dancing with her while you eagerly await the song to be over. Try not to storm off the dance floor and let the lady feel even more embarrassed than she does. That way, the other beautiful ladies who are waiting to dance with you and who saw what happened will know that you're a real gentleman. That being said, and to echo what Barb said, you have to be cognizant of your own leading ability. No one expects you to be perfect. But if you can develop an understanding of what went wrong AND WHY, you will be in a better position to try to avoid the same problem in the future. And so, while errors do happen, don't succumb to the sin of assuming that errors are due solely to your partner and try and not make the same error twice. I know, I'm preaching to the choir!

7. Not having fun!! - By Barb and Salsero

Taking yourself too seriously. 

Dancing is often an expression of joy. Think of the victory dances players do after making a touchdown, for example. To keep that fresh, joyful approach alive on the floor, make sure you don't lose that outlook as you learn. Getting every step or technique just right takes a lot of practice. It isn't the end of the world to mess up a move or lose your balance on a double/triple turn. Most important is having a great time as you learn. That way you'll keep coming back and in time you will master what you practice! Remember that it's all about fun, and dance with love, joy, and playfulness in your heart. When your dancing comes from a place of loving music and movement, it will show through; and the technique will come in time. This attitude will make your own experience rich, and will make dancing fun for you and your partner. 

 

Even though we chose to focus on only seven sins or pitfalls of salsa dancing, don't think for a second that those are the only ones. However, avoiding the Seven Sins of Salsa will help you tremendously in improving your dancing experiences with your partner. Remember, no matter how many pitfalls there are, the rewards and pleasure of dancing Salsa far exceeds those pitfalls. So, cast aside your fears, shed your doubts, stop reading this article and get up and go out on the dance floor AND DANCE!!! (Did you remember to grab your partner?)

 

Barbara Bernstein is director of DanceInTimeProductions (www.DanceInTime.com), a Cuban salsa (rueda) group in the DC/VA/Baltimore area.


 

 

Comment

Comment

Guidance on Learning to Dance

Guidance on Learning to Dance  

 

 

1.  Specific Techniques For Learning

 

DON'T BOUNCE YOUR STEPS WHEN YOU DO SALSA DANCING

You should generally not bounce your steps in Salsa dancing. The knees are bent very slightly throughout the steps, and the head stays at the same level.  When knees are bent and then straightened even slightly, this creates a bounce where the head goes up and down. Instead, what experienced dancers do is keep their knees bent the same amount throughout the dance so the head remains level.

KEEP YOUR WEIGHT OVER YOUR FEET, NOT THROWN BACK

Keep your weight over your center; don't lean back on your heels.  Back weighting slows you down as you have to shift your weight forward before you can take the next step. This in turn, can cause dancers to be slow and off time.  When people take a back-rock, they often don’t even put their heel on the floor at all to avoid back-weighting.

WATCH OTHERS IN A RUEDA AND TRY TO SYNCHRONIZE YOUR MOVES WITH THEIRS

Remember to watch other experienced dancers and match their moves so you are in synchrony with them. Mimicking others is a useful technique in this dance, but not everyone remembers to do it. 

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE CALLER AND LISTEN FOR THE CALLS

Listen to and watch the caller so you don't miss a call. That is the responsibility of every dancer in the circle.

KEEP THE CIRCLE CIRCULAR AND TIGHT!

Pay attention to keeping the circle tight and circular. That is also everyone's responsibility. Try to stay fairly close to the perimeter of the circle on steps where it's easy to pull away.

STAY CLOSE TO YOUR PARTNER

Both partners generally should keep enough tension in their arms so the elbows stay bent, forcing the couple to stay fairly close. If partners extend their arms fully, they get too far from each other and leading is compromised.

KEEP YOUR FEET MOVING IN THE QUICK QUICK SLOW RHYTHM, EVEN IF YOU'RE "STAYING IN PLACE"

Ladies, let me tell you what it feels like to be a leader and come to pick up a new partner who is standing still, not moving her feet at all. It feels like the lady has stopped dancing and it's unsatisfying. Followers should keep their feet moving, even if they aren't "going anywhere," so they look and feel like they're actually dancing!

This applies to all steps where either leaders or followers stay in place. The group spirit of a Rueda circle is augmented by having everyone move in the same rhythm. So even if you don't have to take a step to move or turn, keep the feet going in the quick quick slow rhythm. This also helps ensure you'll know which foot to step on when you do need to move!

HOW MUCH LEAD IS TOO MUCH LEAD? THE ETERNAL QUESTION

There is a lot of variance in how forcefully guys lead. Likewise there is a lot of variance in how much lead ladies prefer. There is no one correct answer to the question of how much lead is too much. People will judge that differently.

Personally, I prefer as much lead as necessary for clarity and no more (a sort of "economy of lead" principle). If you start the lady in motion and her momentum will continue taking her where you want her to go, for example, there is no need to push the entire time she moves along. That doesn't mean you don't provide contact so she can feel some guidance.  But force isn't needed to get her to go somewhere she's going to go anyway!  

Or if you are doing a turn or alarde, there is no need to raise the lady's arm very high over her head. You just need to clear her head. To raise the arm high, the lead has to be more forceful. So you can keep the lead gentle by moving the arm only as high as needed. It takes a greater level of sophistication as a dancer to lead effectively but still be gentle. It's much easier to lead with force. 

There is one more notable point regarding the stength of the lead. If someone has too little lead, they'll find out. The lady won't know what to do, so it's obvious she needs a firmer hand. But if your lead is extremely strong, you don't get feedback on that as readily. Everyone you dance with will follow just fine; but it may not be comfortable. So if you value a gentle lead, this is something to bear in mind.

FRAME AND TENSION TO MAKE LEADING AND FOLLOWING POSSIBLE

Following a lead properly requires some basic understanding of frame and tension.  This is something people develop over time and experience.  When women who aren't experienced dancers first try a turn, they often let their arm move back but don't move their bodies, as their partner tries to lead them.  

To follow a lead, the lady's arm maintains a shape so that she can be pushed (gently!) to move where the leader wants her to go.  Because followers hold the shape or frame of their arm, the leads can move them by moving their hand at the point of contact.  I have seen a number of interesting ways to explain the concept of frame.  One is that ladies must be able to see their right arm out of the corner of their eye. So the arm never goes outside their range of vision.  So when the arm is pushed in an effort to turn the lady, her body has to go with the arm---and (voila!) she has been led!

Another unique way to explain this was shared with me by a friend, Melinda Turner. She said she was in a class where the teacher passed out tennis balls to the ladies. They were all told to put the ball under their right armpit and dance without letting it fall.  Then when the lady was turned to the right by pressure on her right hand, she had to hold a rigid frame and move her arm and body too, or the ball would fall.  

I've never quite had the nerve to bring tennis balls to class, but this is an outstanding way to convey the concept of frame.  I have found that even just describing this in words from the beginning, and asking the ladies to imagine a ball is under their arm, is enough to get the concept across.

 

2.  The Big Picture and the Philosophy of Learning

PRACTICE MOVES YOU ALREADY “KNOW”: IMPROVING TECHNIQUE VERSUS LEARNING NEW MOVES

Practicing dance moves you "already know" is far more useful than it may seem. The more you dance, the more your technique improves, and these gains cut across all the steps that you do, so they are far-reaching.

Musicians (and singers) often warm up by practicing scales, for example.  This is very useful but it is not done because they don’t know the scale or forgot how to play it.  Rather, it is useful because the player’s fingers become increasingly nimble, the movements increasingly natural and easy, etc.

Likewise, as you practice dancing, you get to know the steps you are doing better and better. So you naturally execute them more competently---at faster tempos, with less thought, easily adding embellishments, etc. Practice clearly improves your dancing, even when you are practicing steps you had already learned.  Moreover, the more automatically you can do the fundamentals, the easier it is to use those components in more advanced moves.  (See footnote 1.)

In short, the time spent in class, refines and smooths out your execution and makes your lead/follow feel comfortable to your partner.  Trust me----if you join a Rueda circle during club dancing, you'll see the tremendous value in this.  The music at a club is much faster than what it is possible to learn to, and the calls are very hard to hear and recognize, plus different callers say the names of the moves slightly differently.  To dance Rueda successfully in a club, you have to know the moves "like the back of your hand." 

TIPS ON RHYTHM AND TIMING

When someone has trouble with Salsa timing, the most common error is that the "slow" step is shortened. As a result, the three steps in the musical measure are equal or more equal in time than they should be. (See footnote 2.)  The "slow" step should be twice as long as each "quick" step. 

Timing issues are a very hard thing for people to correct on their own. If they could feel the correct rhythm, they'd be doing it. Progress can be made, but it is long and slow. Generally, when I teach in a Rueda circle, if I say "quick quick slow" or "step step step" in the correct rhythm, people can match their steps to my words relatively well. So that tends to help dancers stay on time and keep the Rueda circle flowing in class.

But how can someone practice and improve this when they are not in a Rueda circle with a teacher hammering out the beat? I've found that it can help to practice a particular move very slowly, to get the feel of the “slow" step taking twice as long as the “quick" step. 

Many people can keep the rhythm ok in the basic step but lose it as soon as they are turning or doing something more complicated.  For example, dancers may lose the quick quick slow timing when they do a turn like vacila.  But if they walk the movement through very slowly in the correct rhythm, that helps give them insight into how this rhythm should feel.  

Since many people who have trouble with timing are aided by having a teacher on hand to count out loud for them, I made a CD on which I voiced over the quicks and slows for students. Using the CD, dancers can be sure they are practicing correctly! There is ordering information on this website for my CD.

If you have had a teacher tell you that your timing is off, it's a good idea in a Rueda circle to pay special attention to what others are doing. Many students don't take advantage of the benefit they can get by watching others and trying to match them. You move when they do. For example, if a lady is coming across for the cross body lead too early, she can watch when the other women step across, and try to mimic them. Likewise if guys are moving to their next partner on the dame too early or late, they can watch the other leaders and synchronize with them.  

If a leader is aware that he has a problem with timing in one on one Salsa dancing, he can pay special attention to his partner's timing. I have watched couples dancing where one person is off time and the other is attempting to step correctly. If the person who is off time were aware of the issue and tried to be responsive to his/her partner's timing, that would no doubt help. 

To complicate things further, be aware that Salsa and Latin music change tempo a lot, so you really have to be listening to the music constantly!

COUNTING SYSTEMS---THE PROS AND CONS OF VARIOUS METHODS

The most common way for dancers to count Salsa when they practice, teach, learn, etc. is by the beats. Most dance music is in 4:4 time. That means there are 4 beats to what is called a "musical measure." The first beat of each measure gets a slightly stronger accent.

When we dance to Salsa music, we take two quick steps each lasting one beat and one slow step that lasts two beats. The phrasing in Salsa music is that every other measure receives a particularly strong accent on beat one. So we think of Salsa music as being constructed in sets of 8 beat phrases where the first of those 8 is the very strongest accent and beat 5 is the next strongest.

When experienced (“on one”) dancers count Salsa or Rueda moves, they most commonly count 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7. These are the beats on which people take steps.  Although some teachers count by naming the number of steps taken, so they count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 instead.

If I am teaching people who fail to lift their foot and shift their weight each time they take a step, then I count by saying "Step, step, step; step step step." In a sense, this is literally a verbal reminder that every step is "truly a step" in the sense of walking. We lift a foot off the ground and put it down to take a step when we walk. I have found that this wording helps students remember to lift their foot off the ground!  

If i’m teaching students who are not waiting two beats for the slow step, i may count:  "quick quick, wait!” to help them remember to wait a full two beats.  

Implicit message:  Language matters in teaching!

WHAT IF ONE TEACHER TELLS YOU ONE THING AND ANOTHER TELLS YOU THE OPPOSITE?

When is advice from teachers, or from any two people, contradictory? I would submit that just because one teacher tells you to have tighter arms and another tells you the opposite, that doesn't mean one of them is wrong. Lots of things are correct in one place and not in another (i.e. different steps or different parts of the same step). 

Also, what level of tension to use is a matter of degree, and teachers draw the line a bit differently. Or your arms may be “right" for dancing with one person but not for dancing with another (due to the level of tension your partner has); etc. 

Different teachers emphasize different things, conceptualize things differently, explain them differently, and have different taste, strengths, and weaknesses. All these things affect how and what they teach. So they'll sometimes say opposite things, but that doesn’t mean one of them is necessarily wrong. 

Oftentimes, I hear students comment in frustration that they are told opposite things by different teachers or by the same teacher (said at different times) and they don't know which piece of advice to follow. This is a difficult matter, and it happens to many people as they learn. You have to evaluate and analyze what is meant, and how you can best understand the intent of the advice. 

Teachers are generally trying to help students learn to dance as smoothly and comfortably as the student is able.  That may lead the teacher to say something to exaggerate a point, for example, if the teacher feels that is the only way to be heard.  You can see how this might lead someone thinking that a comment made to them must be wrong.

My point here is that contradictions are not always an indication of an error. As you progress in dancing (or in your understanding of anything), you get more of a handle on the sense in which two opposite pieces of advice can fit together and both be valid and valuable.  That kind of sophisticated understanding requires a broad perspective and comes from experience.  So keep an open mind as you try to grasp the meaning of the advice that a teacher gives you!    And remember, you can both love and hate someone, too!  So things that appear opposite aren’t always mutually exclusive!  :) 

MISTAKES — LEARN TO LOVE THEM!

My philosophy on mistakes is that they are the best learning tool anyone has. When I taught mathematics, many moons ago, I preferred that my students write in ink and not erase their mistakes. It is very instructive to look at your errors to be sure you are clear on why you thought that way and why it's incorrect.  I'd much rather have students guess wrong if they aren't sure so we can address the matter, than guess right and squeak by, still confused.

When I teach, if I make an error, I often stop and ask the class if they can figure out what I did wrong that messed them up. For example, calling is a frequent source of error. No one can mess up a Rueda circle like the caller can. One bad call---too early, too late, too soft, a mixed up step name----and the whole circle is shot. 

So when I make mistakes, I like to use them as learning tools, just as I do with students' mistakes. When the students can assess what I did wrong, they are on their way to understanding the dance better.  I don't sweat my mistakes and I'd like students to feel the same way. (Indeed, if students didn't make mistakes, they wouldn't need a teacher. Then I'd be out of a job---and where would that get me?)

If you can think of your own errors as opportunities to learn and go forward, you'll be more comfortable making them. And you can't learn much unless you are willing to make mistakes, especially not in dance!!

WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT MISTAKE?…. IT’S ALL ABOUT US!! 

There is another dimension to errors that I'd like to point out. When two people dance together, as when they do anything together, what they do affects each other in a profound and ongoing way. Let me give you an example of what I mean. If a couple is dancing together and the lady doesn't have quite enough tension in her arms, the man must lead more forcefully to get her to follow him. To avoid feeling yanked, the lady may loosen up further. The man must then lead even stronger.  See what I mean? As 6-year old kids on a playground might say, "You started it!"   But the reality is clear — they are both creating this situation.

The interactive nature of dance understandably gives lots of opportunity for partners to subtly affect each other. Naturally, when there is a mistake, it can be hard to parse whose error it was, and really it doesn't matter. It was the partnership that failed, so to speak. Better to grasp the complex nature of this mini-ecosystem where everything affects everything else, than to regard matters as simple. (See foonote 3.)

Moreover, sometimes when a mistake is made, a good many people all played a small role. Here is an example: I was dancing with a wonderful, considerate friend, and while turning, I lost my balance slightly. As a result, I swung out a bit farther from him than he had reason to expect. He moved toward me to "stabilize the partnership" but before that maneuver was complete, I lightly bumped into another couple on the floor. The truth is that they were dancing "a bit large" if you know what I mean.

My partner immediately gestured that it was his fault, since it's the guy's responsibility to watch out for the other couples on the floor. The other couple apologized because they knew they were taking up too much space for the crowded floor. And of course, I felt my partner was just being nice; it was largely my fault for swinging out too far. He couldn't have anticipated that I would do that. Truthfully any one of the three parties involved could have avoided that collision. 

So whose fault was it? Many things are joint affairs just like this. To learn from mistakes, it is helpful to appreciate the complex nature of how they come to pass rather than regard one person as causing the error.   

Here is another way of thinking of this matter.  Many times there is a range of what is correct in terms of how a move is done. For example, consider the matter of how partners stay connected.  Each partner has a certain level of tension in the hand hold and a shape for holding their hand which enables partners to stay in contact.  However, there is a range of tensions that will be satisfactory.  

If the gentleman is in the proper range but at the low end and so is the lady, they may disconnect even though they were both dancing “correctly."  There is a temptation for an individual to feel that since he/she did a move correctly, if it failed it must be the other person's fault.  But again, it can be the partnership or the union of how those two individuals dance together that really caused the error.  

In other words, just because you were "right" doesn't mean the other person was "wrong."  Often no one was exacly wrong!  But the partners need to learn to work together more effectively, looking at what happened to figure out how both can contribute to avoiding that in the future.

CONSIDERATION ON THE DANCE FLOOR

Dancing is a social experience and a contact sport. This has many implications. It is nice to smile (but not stare) at your partner. And men should lead the dance in a manner that suggests they are relating to their partner!  If he is dancing with a lady who has difficulty doing certain moves, for example, he should try to adjust what he does to her ability. 

Some people worry that they won't look good if they "dance down." But your partner will appreciate your leading things she has some hope of following, or slowing down your pace (how quickly you initiate one move after another) to a level she can keep up with. And overall you may look better than if you are forcing a lady through moves she can't gracefully do. 

Besides, everyone who goes to clubs knows very well the level and style of everyone else's dancing. If you dance with someone who is more of a beginner than yourself, what you really look like is someone who is generous and willing to share your talent with others.  There is absolutely nothing that endears you to other dancers more than this! Plus, dancing for fun shouldn't be just about how you look, anyway!!

FOOTNOTES

  1. I want to point out something else here. People sometimes regard learning as a relatively "all or nothing" proposition, but that's not really the way it works. By that I mean that we tend to feel that we either know a step or we don't, or maybe just some mid-point in between. But I believe that there are many more degrees of learning than is commonly appreciated. Even if you can do a move well from memory, if you practice it more and more, it will probably improve in some ways. I see learning as highly incremental, and I think it's helpful to appreciate the implications of this. 
    Let me give you a simple example of the incremental nature of learning from my days as a math teacher. If you teach a class to add fractions, you can start with a simple problem like 1/6 plus 3/6. You can "move up" to a problem where they have to get a common denominator like 1/2 plus 1/4. Students can almost visualize these problems, imagining that fraction of a pie and they'd know what the sum is just from experience. A teacher might feel that if the student can correctly solve these problems, then he/she knows how to add fractions.
    But if that student cannot also find the sum of 2/9 plus 5/20, then I would submit that he/she doesn't understand how to add fractions that well or that fully. It is the level of complexity of problems that someone can correctly solve that measures how well they understand. Understanding is very incremental, and the harder the problem a student can solve, the better they have to understand the material. All learning is like this, including dance.
     
  2. I used to sing in a barbershop quartet for women, and the most common error that was made in singing was also for the timing of the notes to be equalized. That is, short notes were lengthened and long notes were shortened to make them all more equal in length. I originally became aware of this because I harmonize by ear and often "resolve a chord" over the course of several beats when I sing with others. But many times, before I can achieve the final resolution, the person I am singing with has begun the next phrase----very frustrating!! 
     
  3. I once took tango lessons from a teacher who spent a lot of time analyzing in great detail this kind of interaction. There was virtually no dance problem we encountered that didn't have a contribution by both partners. I consider the teacher a sort of "psychologist-dancer." Those lessons were really fascinating and I learned a tremendously valuable lesson. 

Comment

Comment

CD on Rhythm and Timing

DANCE RHYTHM CD

 

To help those of you who are learning to dance, we recommend a very original product.  

DanceInTime's director Barbara Bernstein and her colleague Michele Kearney have recorded a CD titled Rhythm Reminder, which has a voice-over marking the timing of the dancers' steps. This simple idea creates a great tool for dance practice. It is like having a dance teacher available at any time, marking the beat so you can concentrate on the step patterns. 

Rhythm Reminder will make your practice time more productive, relaxed and fun. It features original music for Single Swing, Triple Swing, Salsa, Cha Cha, and Foxtrot.  After each song, the piece is repeated without the voice-over so you can also practice on your own.  With Rhythm Reminder, dance instruction is as close as your CD player!

The six-panel CD insert explains the mechanics for doing a number of steps in each dance.

Copyright 2002 by Barbara Bernstein and the Greg Jenkins Quartet.

To sharpen your dance skills and have fun doing it, you can order your own copy of Rhythm Reminder. To order by mail directly from the producer, email Barbbtalks at aol dot com and include your phone number.  We can make arrangements for the sale.  The cost is $19.00 plus $2.50 for postage and handling in the US (more for out of the country).

Comment

Comment

Chart of Latin Dance Rhythms

LATIN AND SWING BASIC STEP RHYTHM PATTERNS

Rumba:      Slow      Quick      Quick      Slow      Quick      Quick      Slow      Quick      Quick     

Rumba is the slowest of all the Latin Dances. It is sometimes referred to as the dance of love due to the somewhat romantic character of both the steps and the music.

 

Salsa:         Quick      Quick      Slow      Quick      Quick      Slow      Quick      Quick      Slow

You can begin the first quick on beat one or beat two of the musical measure in Salsa. It is a little more musically challenging to start the pattern on the second beat. Most Americans begin on beat one which is the accented beat of the musical measure and "easiest to find."

 

Mambo:      Quick      Quick      Slow      Quick      Quick      Slow      Quick      Quick      Slow     

This rhythm pattern is identical to Salsa.However, Mambo is always begun on the second beat of the measure. Technically, Salsa in considered a "street dance" with a flavorful, expressive style while Mambo is a ball room dance. In reality they are essentially the same dance.

 

Cha-Cha:    One      Two      cha, cha, cha       One      Two      cha, cha, cha      One      Two      cha, cha, cha

What happens if you replace the "slow" in Mambo with the "cha, cha, cha?" The answer is that you get the Cha Cha rhythm. Cha Cha is done to slower music than Mambo, so there is time to fit in those three cha chas instead of the one "slow." So Cha Cha and Mambo are very closely related dances. Furthermore, like Mambo, Cha Cha begins on the second beat of the musical measure.

 

Merengue:  Quick      Quick      Quick      Quick      Quick      Quick      Quick      Quick

This dance is very basic both rhythmically and in terms of the steps. It is often the favorite of beginning dancers for that reason. The music has a steady, repetitive quality.

 

Single Swing:      Slow      Slow      Quick      Quick

Triple Swing: Triple time (3 steps) Triple time Quick Quick

West Coast Swing: Quick Quick Triple time Triple time or…
Quick Quick Triple time Quick Quick Triple time
 

There are many forms of swing dancing. Single Swing is done to fast music, such as "Rock Around the Clock." Triple Swing is done to medium tempo music. Finally, West Coast Swing is done to the slowest swing music which has a "bluesy" sound.

Swing and the other dances listed here (which are Latin dances) are all "related" through their connection to Jazz.

Note: The "quicks" get one beat each and the "slows" get two beats in all patterns above.

Comment