Instructor: Darrell Dieringer
Limit: 30; 2.1 CEU; $167/person
Register by Jan 20
State Street Center – 122 State St
3rd Floor Studio
New and experienced dancers alike, learn to lead and follow with skill and confidence! Learn the music, basic patterns, styling, turns, and common moves for Salsa, Merengue, Rumba, Cha Cha, Bolero, and other related partner dances. Beyond just steps and patterns, you will learn the movement and partnering principles needed for making any dance move possible. You will actually remember new dance moves and know how to apply them to many different dances. No dance experience required. No partner needed. Dress comfortably for a movement class.
Students will know basic moves and be able to identify the music for at least four different dances – Merengue, Salsa, Rumba, and Cha Cha. Students will develop good dance habits, emphasizing the importance of posture, frame, and connection. Students will recognize how those good habits help in the Leading and Following of moves, and how they also demonstrate respect for your dance partner and other dancers. In addition, students will understand the responsibilities and duties involved in skillful Leading and Following, as well as how to avoid collisions on a crowded dance floor.
No Class Wed 02 Feb 2011. – severe weather
Weather-related cancellations (or cancellations for any other reason) are announced on the UW’s Cancellation Web Page by 2:30pm on the day of class.
Though taught by an instructor from the Art of Dance, this class is offered exclusively through the UW Division of Continuing Studies.
To enroll in this class, you must register with the
UW Division of Continuing Studies.
Gift certificates or discount specials issued by the studio may not be used for the activity described above.
The class notes for UWCE Beginning Latin/Salsa Class – Spring Semester
The semester is almost complete – please make attending class a priority.
You had a lot of class time to work on moves in Salsa – CLB’s and Chase Turns were the basic building blocks of the day.
Each “move” happens in a two-measure set (doing a complete basic step takes two measures of music), or in groups of two-measure sets (four-measures, six-measures, eight-measures, etc).
A CBL takes two measures.
A complete Chase Turn takes two measures.
A CBL followed by a Chase Turn takes four measures (two two-measure sets)
When the Follow is turning, the turn generally happens on the second measure (the time when they are stepping forward).
When the Lead is turning, the turn generally happens on the first measure (the time when they are stepping forward).
You also learned to finish the CBL in either Hammerlock or a Cuddle (the Lead has to move to land next to the Follow).
The small class size today provided lots of opportunity for individual attention. We reviewed the moves from Rumba that you learned in Week 7 and Week 8, as well as adding a Cross Body Lead for Rumba.
** Cha Cha **
You learned a new dance, the Cha Cha. At one point in the evolution of Cha Cha, it was called the Triple Mambo. Cha Cha is danced to slower music than Mambo/Salsa, so there was more time for dancers to do more weight changes (thus the “cha cha” (change change) in the basic.
I started everyone with a preparation step to the side on the “One” count of the measure, followed by a break (either forward or backward, depending on the foot that is free – more in a bit), followed by a replace, followed by “Cha Cha” or “Four And”. When starting on the “One”, the rhythm for Cha Cha is Slow-Slow-Slow-Quick-Quick (SSSQQ), or “One Two Three Four And”, or “Quarter Note, Quarter Note, Quarter Note, Eighth Note, Eighth Note”.
That rhythm then repeats on the “other side” – ie, if your “One” count was to the Right the first time, it will to the Left the next time.
Tiny Steps are Important! It’s hard to do five weight changes in one measure of music unless your steps are very small.
Cha Cha Always Breaks On Two! Anyone telling you any different is just doing sloppy Cha Cha. A Break, in general, is a movement that goes in one direction, abruptly stops, then goes back in the opposite direction. For instance, the Salsa/Mambo basic consists of a Forward Break and a Back Break.
The Cha Cha basic also has a Forward Break and a Back Break, and those breaks (as well as other kinds of breaks that you will soon learn), happen on the second beat of the measure (ie, the “Two” count, as in Cha Cha Always Breaks On Two).
In the Cha Cha basic, just as in the Salsa/Mambo basic, the Forward Break happens on the Left foot, and the Back Break happens on the Right Foot. Above in this Class Note where I described the timing of the Cha Cha basic, I said the the preparation step to the side on the “One” count is followed by a Break (either forward or backward depending on the foot you have free).
If your Left foot is free after the preparation step, you do a Forward Break on the Two count. If your Right foot is free after the preparation step, you do a Back Break on the Two count.
How to start
When at social dances, it is just as common for dancers to start with the preparation step to the Leads Right as it is to start with the preparation step to the Leads Left. There is no one “correct” way – both are correct. However, in class we did the preparation step to the Lead’s left/Follow’s right.
It is important in the Cha Cha basic, however, to do Forward Breaks with the Left foot and Back Breaks with the Right foot, and that Cha Cha Always Breaks On Two. I cannot be emphatic enough about that fact.
You learned to do the Opening Break and UAT, as well as Crossover Breaks. The “moves” in Cha Cha happen on the 2-count and 3-count, as in one-two-three-cha-cha.
This week we had a special guest performance. My dance partner, Sarah Calhoun, and one of her students performed an Argentine Tango routine that they are developing for an event in May – the Mover’s and Shaker’s Gala in Sheboygan. This is a Dancing-With-The-Stars-style event, where a local celebrity is paired with a dance pro to perform, raising money for various charities and organizations. This will be the fourth year that Sarah and I have been a part of the event.
** Salsa **
We reviewed the delay from last week, as well as adding a new variation that we called the Daren Version. We also reviewed the Chase Turn and CBL combination.
** Rumba **
The Opening Break and Underarm Turn (OB and UAT) is a very important move in many many different dances. I worked with several people on how to make your UAT’s very sharp and stylized.
To OB and UAT, you added Crossover Breaks (X-Overs) (aka New Yorkers). Remember, it’s the inside feet that come through in the X-Overs.
** Salsa **
Near the end of class, you started to apply the OB & UAT to the Salsa. By starting with a CBL, you can then transition into an OB and UAT. Salsa is very fast compared to Rumba, so your steps need to be very small.
** Next Week **
This week, I introduced the concept of a Delay. You used it to do a special version of a I-go-you-go two-hand up turn. It involves only sending one hand at a time all the way up, the other hand remaining at shoulder level. This was a way to take something simple (the I-go-you-go turn) and make it look more complicated.
** Salsa **
When you switched to Salsa, you did a Chase Turn and Cross Body Lead (CBL) combination. During the Chase Turn part, you ended with a right-hand-to-right-hand (aka “handshake”) dance position so that you could immediately do a Secret Agent or Double Secret Agent CBL move.
** Rumba **
You expanded on your Rumba knowledge from last week, incrementally changing the common sequence that you learned last week into a Open Break and Underarm Turn (OB & UAT), and then expanding that to include Crossover Breaks (X-Overs).
** Next Week **
We are at the half-way point of the semester, and you are starting to learn more dances.
This week, you learned a Chase Turn / CBL combination. Starting Lead’s Left Hand to Follow’s Right Hand, Leads did their part of the Chase Turn with a hand-change-behind-the-back (resulting in Lead’s Right to Follow’s Right). The Follow then did their part of the Chase Turn from this Handshake Dance Position (hand away from the face turn).
That was the first two measures of the combination – the same amount of time as the basic takes.
Still in Handshake Dance Position, you immediately went into a CBL. Remember, the first three steps (the first measure) of a Cross Body Lead are always the same. During the second measure is when you did the moves I called the Secret Agent (only the Lead turning) or the Double Secret Agent (the Follow turning then the Lead).
The whole CBL also takes just two measures of music – the same amount of time as a basic. The Chase Turn/CBL combination together takes four measures of music.
You spent a lot of time in class working on Salsa and CBL’s. CBL’s are very important and versatile for Salsa dancing as well as every other Latin dance.
** Rumba **
You learned a new dance this week – the American Rumba (or Box Rumba). It is danced to slower-tempo music than the Salsa. The basic is counted S-Q-Q, which I will often refer to as Slow-ly-Quick-Quick. You started to develop a very common form for moves in Rumba, taking four measures of music…
That is the end of the pattern – you would start over again with a Box. Please take advantage of our Rumba Playlist.
** Next Week **
At the beginning of class, you reviewed two-hand-up turns (You-Go-I-Go), plus the Barrel Roll (We-Go).
You also learned a move I called The Slingshot, involving using both 3-dimensional and 2-dimensional ways to change sides. It starts with either a Follow’s Cuddle or a Lead’s Cuddle. You also learned to do this move while rotating in a circle.
When we switched to the Salsa, you reviewed the Cross Body Lead (CBL). The first measure (the 1-2-3-hold) of the CBL are always the same. It is during the second measure that the “moves” happen. You learned to do two different turns for the Follow. A hand-across-the-face turn results in 1.5 rotations. A hand-away-from-the-face turn results in 0.5 rotation. I briefly covered some specifics for very stylized turning for Follows.
At the end of class, I introduced a new dance – the Hustle. We did it with a four-count basic, taking advantage of Alternating Right Side Passes.
In addition to reviewing the Chase Turn, you learned to do what I called a “You Go I Go” as well as a “We Go” turn (more accurately called a Barrel Roll).
The Two-Hand-Up turns (like the “You Go I Go”) require both people to keep both hands together throughout the turn. The “We Go” turn involves a modification where your hands start at 180* from each other on the imaginary vertical circle between you and your partner.
You turned the Chase Turn into a Follow’s Hammerlock and were beginning to then do the other Hammerlock-related moves you know from Merengue (like the Sliding Door).
** The Cross Body Lead (CBL) **
You learned the Cross Body Lead (CBL) in the Salsa. The CBL is a very important and versatile move. It is a specific way to change places taking two measures of music.
You learned to do the CBL in Closed Dance Position. I discusses some of the important features of the Closed Dance Position, particularly where the Lead’s Right Hand is expected to go. I bring that up for several reasons…
** Next Week **
This week was mainly a chance for you to get comfortable with the skills you already know. Cuddles and Hammerlocks (and combinations involving Cuddles and Hammerlocks). Sliding Door (the various versions of it). Tunnels. Negative Space in general.
When we switched to Salsa, you worked on doing the Chase Turn with greater control and accuracy – knowing exactly when and how much to turn. In class, you will learn a number of turns. Those turns will all begin by stepping forward prior to turning.
Near the end of class, you were working on changing the Chase Turn into other moves. You did a kind of Under Arm Turn (UAT) for the Follow, staying connected with the Lead’s left hand and the Follow’s right hand. I also showed you how to do that as a Follow’s Hammerlock, which is where we will pick up next week.
Please talk to me (or email me) early in the semester if there is something about class that you would like me to address.
** Cuddles and Hammerlocks as Negative Space **
You began using Cuddles and Hammerlocks as a way to explore Negative Space:u
You can create countless moves by creatively utilizing Negative Space.
** Sliding Door **
The Sliding Door is a way for the Lead to pass behind the Follow’s back, taking care to match heights with whomever is shorter. You developed four different versions of the Sliding Door, differing by changing which hand is the up hand (or whether you change the up hand).
The Sliding Door starts with a Hammerlock for either the Lead or the Follow. You must experiment with the various results depending on which partner begins in the Hammerlock.
** Tunnel **
The Tunnel starts with a Cuddle. You learned a version starting with a Cuddle for the Lead. You ended with a new kind of turn at the end – a Two-Hand-Up Turn.
** Proprioception **
While the things we are doing in class are definitely “moves”, they are also exercises that allow you to discover for yourself the kinds of things that are possible when dancing with a partner. It is not necessary to master any particular “move” but rather to use those exercises as a way to expand your own concept of what is possible.
Learning to dance – for most people – requires developing a new awareness of your own body. Most people have a sixth sense, but it is not ESP or anything paranormal. Our sixth sense is called Proprioception – the awareness of the position of one’s own body. In fact, unless your sixth sense has been lost or damaged – as can be possible with our other five senses as well – you can further develop proprioception.
In order to learn to dance – or rather to learn to dance well – it is our proprioception that must be enhanced. The warmup exercises in this class – and in many of the better dance classes I have taken in other genres of dance – are designed to do many things, including enhance our proprioception.
For those interested or currious, I enjoyed reading the book Running with the Whole Body. Amoung other things, discusses proprioception and describes exercises intended specifically for runners. Almost anywhere in that book where it says “running” it could have very well said “dancing”.
An entire approach to movement (and physical rehabilitation) – called the Feldenkrais Method – employs the same kinds of strategies discussed in the book. (The book was written by a Feldenkrais practitioner, so the book actually uses the Feldenkrais Method.)
I make use of similar principles in dance class. I endeavour to teach everyone how to move effectively and comfortably with a parter, as well as how to communicate movement with a partner (applies to Leads and Follows equally).
** What and How **
Knowing what to do (the moves or the steps of a particular dance) is only a part of knowing how to do the moves. I teach you not only what to do but how to do it and make it work with a partner.
Remember that “doing the steps” is just a part of “learning to dance”. It takes a bit more time to develop the physical awareness to dance well, but once you become comfortable with the idea that dancing happens in the body (vs in the feet), you can learn countless patterns more easily, and even make up your own new “moves”.
** The Merengue **
Merengue is a very versatile dance. Not only is it popular at Salsa clubs, it has a very simple basic “step”. You have wide latitude to use Cuddles and Hammerlocks (and their derivatives) to improvise many many fun and interesting moves.
You can do each move in eight counts of music (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8) or in half that time (1-2-3-4). For variety, you can switch between doing the same moves in eight counts or four counts.
**Cuddle and Hammerlock Combinations **
You learned eight different moves based on one hand going up and one hand going down – four moves where the Follow is turning and four moves where the Lead is turning. You can combine these separate moves into combinations:
Or more generally:
Being able to smoothly do these combinations makes you a better Lead/Follow and allows you to become more aware of and sensitive to how your partner moves their own body.
** The Salsa **
I introduced the Salsa basic. I will start by teaching “Salsa on One”, meaning the movement forward or backward (the Break)happens on the first beat of the measure of music.
Each half of the basic (the forward half or the backward half) takes one measure of music. Therefore, it takes two measures of music to get through the entire basic.
You could count the Salsa (on one) basic as Quick-Quick-Slowly-ly, 1-2-3-hold-4, or my favorite Yump-Bump-Bhaaaaaaa. I find that singing the rhythm helps the movements relate to the music better.
Musicians may find it helpful to think about quarter-note, quarter-note, half-note. (or Quarter, Quarter, Half-Note). You could count “1-2-3 (hold 4) 4-5-6 (hold 8)”.
Some people found it helpful to count the rhythm as “Left-bump-bhaaaaaa, Right-bump-bhaaaaaa” (or Right-bump-bhaaaaaa, Left-bump-bhaaaaaa). Counting Left-2-3-hold, Right-2-3-hold is the same kind of thing.
Regardless of how you find/maintain/feel the rhythm, the important thing is that you do find/maintain/feel the rhythm! Any system that works for you – numbers, quicks-and-slows, sounds, left-bump-bhaaa, etc – is the one you should be happy to use. There is no one right way to keep the rhythm! Use what works for you. It does not need to be the same way as the one that works for your partner.
** The Chase Turn **
You learned a Chase Turn, which is a done with a Visual Lead (no physical connection between the Lead and Follow). Both partners get to be the turning person, so in the descriptions that follow, I refer to the “turning person” instead of Lead/Follow.
The Chase Turn emphasizes some important dance principles:
Doing a Chase Turn involves a specific type of turn – a Three Step Turn (aka Walk Around Turn or Spot Turn). The turn occurs during what would have otherwise been the forward-moving part of the basic (the Left-Bump-Bahhh) for the turning person. At the end of the turn, you will have returned to the same place on the dance floor as you started, ready to do the backward-moving part of the basic (right-bump-bahh always follows left-bump-bahh). Your right foot will not have moved to a new place on the dance floor (it will have rotated in place, but will not have moved from its original starting position).
** Resources **
Each week I will post the highlights of what we covered in class. This is not meant to be a dance manual or a substitute for attending class. Instead, it is here to help you remember what we did in class.
Thank you for completing the UW paperwork. Please also complete my separate waiver and welcome survey, and download the class syllabus…
In order to learn to do something new with your bodies – like learn to dance or learn a new style of dancing – you need to engage in new activities. The warmup is designed to be just such an activity.
** The Warm Up **
The warm up is the most important part of any dance class. It how you train your body to move in new ways, developing strength, balance, and poise. In addition to promoting greater leg and back strength, general flexibility, and avoidance of injuries, you will develop numerous isolations and greater coordination though the exercises in the warm up.
Dance classes in other genres of dance – Modern, Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, African – all begin with a comprehensive warm up. Partner dancing (ballroom dancing) is another dance discipline equally as involved as those, yet a warm up is frequently missing from many ballroom dance classes.
In the ballroom classes and workshops I have taken over the years, students get through more material more quickly and with greater satisfaction in those classes that began with a comprehensive warm up.
** My Approach **
Just like there is more to music than the notes, and there is more to painting than the brush strokes or color pallet, there is more to dancing than the steps.
Ballroom dancing (partner dancing) involves many skills. The “steps” (aka “moves” or “figures” or “patterns”) are important. It may seem that knowing the steps may be all it takes to ballroom dance. However, things like balance, strength, responsiveness, timing, and communication go into doing the steps with a partner.
I believe in teaching you how to dance – how to make the steps your own so that you will always remember the moves you learned in class. You will know how to produce them instead of only what you are trying to produce.
It takes a little bit of time to lay this foundation, but it is time well spent.
** Leading and Following **
Leading and Following are skills that you can develop in a short amount of time, by engaging in all of the activities and exercises in class. You will continue to refine your Leading and Following skills for as long as you continue dancing.
Partner dancing is a dialogue between two people – each person voluntarily dancing together in response to each other. The Lead does not tell the Follow what to do!
Leading does not imply control. Leading simply means going first. Following does not imply submission. Following simply means going next. Everything you do in partner dancing involves taking turns responding to each other.
The Lead’s role is to define space (or move somewhere). The Follow’s role is to respond to the new space.
Follows have a lot of power in the partnership. A Lead cannot go again until the Follow has moved in response. That is, Follows can make Leads wait their turns to go again. The communication between Leads and Follows involves taking turns.
** The Connection **
You started with Touchless Dancing. It is an excellent excercise in connecting with your partner’s movements. Everything each person does must be clear and readable, and each person learns patience while dancing (waiting your turn to go).
We worked on what I call the Friction Connection – not too hard, not too soft, just right – and that each person is responsible for building and maintaining the connection. We did this by doing a high-five and keeping your hands together. Each partner must maintain that feeling of connection.
We used the Friction Connection to begin moving around the room – simply at first and then adding turns. Leads turn their own bodies by creating space under the contact point and moving their bodies through the space. Follows turn when the leads create space that goes in a circle (ie, the contact point moves).
** System of Moves – Cuddles and Hammerlock **
We worked a system for turning based on one hand going up (to approximately forehead-height of the person who will be turning) and one hand going down (so that the wrist is below the elbow on both partners).
By leading hand-across-the-face and hand-away-from-the-face turns with the up-hand while maintaining connection with the down-hand, the Leads indicate a turn for the Follows, creating Cuddles – hand-across-the-face (the cute move) – and Hammerlocks – hand-away-from-the-face.
Leads can put themselves into Cuddles and Hammerlocks by moving their bodies under the up-hand, though without moving either of the hands while in the process of turning. Double the number of “moves” you know by being aware of the following fact – if the Follow can turn, so can the Lead.
Cuddles and Hammerlocks are very versatile and are the raw ingredients for countless other moves. By envisioning Negative Space (more next week), we can find new and interesting ways to get out of familiar moves. Letting go with both hands always works!
While the things we are doing in class are “moves”, they are also exercises that allow you to discover for yourself the kinds of things that are possible when dancing with a partner. It is not necessary to master any particular “move” but rather to use those exercises as a way to expand your own concept of what is possible.
** Summary **
Learning to lead and follow from the very beginning of learning to dance promotes greater understanding of dancing and ultimately allows you to dance creatively and expressively. When you begin learning the specific steps and patterns for the various dances, already knowing what it feels like to lead and follow will help immensely.
I end each class session with a review, in the form of a question. “What is something useful or interesting you learned today?” Everyone will have a chance to answer, because sometimes the best observations and really good insights can come from your fellow classmates.
Please write a comment (in the Comments area, below) about your goals for our class…