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Competitors Edge. Tips for Developing Your "Winning Edge"

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  • The Competitors Edge. Tips for Developing Your "Winning Edge"

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    The Competitors Edge

    Tips for Developing Your "Winning Edge"
    by Edie, The Salsa FREAK

    With the overwhelming popularity of partner dancing lately, more and more dancers all over the world are busy looking, choosing, and quietly deciding who to partner with. This month, I'd like to discuss how to find (and keep) a good dance partner, and how to prepare for a dance competition.

    Aside from our partner-search service, partners can be found in classified ads in the newspaper, in dance magazines, at dance studios, colleges, universities, at the gym, and in nightclubs.

    The first thing you have to decide on, is what type of partnership commitment YOU, YOURSELF are willing to make on a personal level.


    RESEARCH first, THEN decide.
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    Can you honestly say "Yes" to the following?

    • Are you willing to dedicate countless hours with someone, day in and day out, week after week, and possibly month after month?


    • Do you have the physical energy left after your day job, to practice into the late hours of the night, very very hard?


    • Are you willing to put up with the bruises, falls, accidental hits and physical demands placed on your body?


    • Are you willing to adjust and move around your otherwise "normal" schedule to fit in the hours, days, and weeks of practice sessions?


    • Are you willing to motivate and encourage the partner you choose when they just don't seem like they're with it, nor worth it anymore?


    • Are you willing to pay the money for studio time, music, outfits, and sometimes needed professional instruction?


    • Are you willing to withstand your partner's bad habits (ie smoking, smell, poor attitude, demanding personality, off-beat problem, farting or burping problem, jealous husband/girlfriend/wife problem, kid problem, dress problem, weight problem, hair problem, dance problem, acne problem, posture problem, lead problem, following problem, etc) during the weeks of preliminary rounds, then semi-final rounds, then final rounds?


    • Are you willing to give up television?

    • Are you willing to give up time with your loved ones for a few weeks or maybe even months?


    • Are you willing to commit to hours and hours of grueling practice with your partner instead of going out and spending time with all your friends at your favorite nightclubs?



    • [*=center]Are you willing to chance all this for little or no return?


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    These questions, my friends, are what you need to ask YOURSELF first. Once you've made the decision, and your desire to compete and perform is more powerful than your good sense, you're ready to find a partner.



    Finding a Partner
    Finding a partner with the EXACT same personal commitment and passion as yourself is a whole other issue. Not only do they need to have the above similar commitments, but must also live "geographically" close to you so you don't spend hours on the freeway commuting to get to each other. On an extreme case, professional ballroom dance competitors/instructors tell me that to show that type of commitment to the sport and to each other, most partners either live together, or marry each other, just for the mere convenience of the time required to train, instruct, and compete.
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    Finding a good partner is like finding a good spouse. Sometimes it's just like a marriage. Some tell me "it's worse than a marriage". Well, being formerly married myself, and having had several dance partnerships over two decades, I'm here to tell you that the two relationships are EXTREMELY similar. There is a tremendous amount of commitment, perseverance, compromising, submission, and patience dealing with issues that must be worked out like two mature, rational adults. There may also be arguments, fights, and hurt feelings that only a marriage-like, loyal relationship can withstand and endure. Total commitment to a serious dance partner is not easy. Dance partnerships have all the issues of a marriage without the sexual benefits (see below).

    Janette Valenzuela, Professional Los Angeles Salsa instructor, says "When you think you've found the right dance partner, both of you must sit down and set your goals together first, in the very beginning." I couldn't agree with her more.

    Mutual Goal Setting
    What I suggest is that both of you write down your ultimate goal - your ultimate objective for partnering. Would you like to just "Place in the Top Five", or do you want to "Go for the Gold" and do whatever it insanely takes, with a passion, obsession, and blood on your teeth, to win. If you're going to spend the time, energy, and resources to do this, then you've both GOT to write down your ultimate goals. If you don't, there is an incredibly slim chance you'll make it. You'll end up wasting your valuable time. I suggest you write down your goals very clearly, on a simple sheet of paper, with a defined date written on it, and paste them to your bathroom mirrors.

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ID:	5337... my entire body went under his legs,
    my nose was one inch off the floor before he whooshed me back up!
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ID:	5338...with Tito Puente
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ID:	5339I loved my first partner.

    My first partner, Angel Galvan, and I did this when we were training for the Los Angeles Mayan competition. We wrote down, on a sheet of paper the words, "Win first place at the Mayan Competition, May 11, 1996". We taped up that sheet of paper in our practice area in clear view from day one of the preliminary rounds. It was so prominently placed in our practice area, and so etched in our minds, that if someone were to wake either of us up in the middle of the night, in the midst of a dead sleep, and yelled, "WHAT'S YOUR GOAL?" In a deep sleep, half stooper, eyelids half open, and complete daze, we would grumble back, "To Win first place at the Mayan Competition, May 11, 1996..."

    Well, needless to say, we won the Mayan, on May 11, 1996, just as planned, and right on schedule. The power of the written word, and it's affect on the mind truly works. Having a clear, written, visible goal at all times in front of the both of you keeps you focused on your objective. It helps you to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and odds. It helps you to prevent strangling each other. It focuses the both of you, and helps you in naively believing that you actually can do the impossible.

    Freak of Nature
    Aerodynamically,
    the bumble bee should not be able to fly,
    but it doesn't know that...
    ...so it flies anyway...


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    Now the question we've all been waiting for...

    "To Sleep with Your Partner, or Not Sleep with Your Partner..."

    I KNOW this goes through everyone's mind. Some Salseros will only choose a partner they know they'll get to sleep with. In fact, they may even forego a perfectly great, less attractive dance partner that they could actually Win with, for another, more gorgeous beauty, they could eventually Sleep with.
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    It's nice to have an attractive partner. Keep in mind however, that the judges are not judging on superficial facial good looks, bodies, makeup nor hair-do's. It does help, but not when the rubber meets the road. They are judging on timing, execution, creativity, routine complexity, partnership, and your ability to DANCE. These criterion have absolutely NOTHING to do with great legs. If however, you are not competing and just doing shows, then finding a drop-dead gorgeous partner who is trainable would work here.

    I've seen this happen quite often. It's sad for very talented dancers who get overlooked and passed up for performing in shows and events because of their lack of physical beauty or age. This is unfortunately, just the way it is in our superficial, and sometimes painful world.

    Getting back to dating your partner...
    Unfortunately, in dance circles, it is ALWAYS assumed that you're more than just partners. I got asked CONSTANTLY if Angel was my boyfriend (he was not). I had people come up to me and ask if they could "dance with my husband" - referring to Angel, my dance partner - he was not my husband either. "Yea right. By all means!" I would say, "Please do! Take him, he's YOURS!" We practiced so often together that we got sick of even dancing together socially at times.

    Having sex with your partner is a decision that you both have to make. I'm not saying, that in order for you to have a great partner you must sleep together, this is far from the truth. BUT, it is eventually something that may cross both of your minds at one point or another. Some people truly believe that having sex with your partner actually helps the chemistry in your partnership. I personally believe it actually hurts it - but then again, that's my own personal opinion that can be argued until the cows come home.

    I highly recommend you NOT have a sexual relationship with your partner - unless of course you were dating first, and decided to be partners, or obviously if you are already married.

    If you end up having problems with your personal, sexual relationship, those problems will flow into the dance partnership as well. If it gets to the point of being so bad that if you break up, your dance goals, and everything you've both worked so hard for will all have gone to waste.



    Great Partnerships Withstand the Test of Time
    You MUST be friends first and foremost.
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    If you're dating your partner, there must be a clear definition between the relationship and the partnership. If you argue with each other during practice, it will flow into your dating relationship and you'll have a terrible sex life. What may happen is that you break up the dating relationship, but choose to remain partners. This rarely happens, however I have actually witnessed this on a few occasions. The few times I've seen this work, is when the partnership is one of the best of the best in the city or country, and you're both making money performing and instructing together.

    It was awful when one of my many dance partners year wanted to start a dating relationship with me. He wanted it so bad that it got to the point of where he (for some VERY STRANGE REASON) very rudely grabbed and caressed my breast in the middle of a song, in front of a group of people. I was so disgusted and so pissed off at him that I walked off the dance floor and broke up our partnership immediately.

    This was so sad, because he was such a great dancer, and we danced SO WELL together. He just wanted more from me than what I was willing to give. Some people just assume you're their property if you're their partner. One of my other partners was King Fiti, Lord of the Internet Salsa Chatboard. He is a very dear long time friend of mine, and I've enjoyed dancing and competing with him immensely. He's a ton of laughs and sometimes puts me into hysterics on the dance floor. I have so much fun with him, that I wouldn't trade him for anyone. We have a unique agreement, in that if a contest comes up, we'll compete if we can. We're not TOTALLY committed to each other like glue.

    We leave a lot of breathing room between us. We're NOT dating, we just love dancing together. We've only practiced once in my living room. We don't have the time to practice because of our hectic schedules. We come up with crazy moves just out of sheer creativity and screwing around at various nightclubs. We never compete with a routine. We just free-style and call out crazy moves / tricks. This wins a lot of contests this way. This proves you DO NOT have to have a routine to win! Some couples look BETTER social dancing than putting together a canned (fake) routine. If he wanted to compete / perform with someone else, that was fine with me, and visa-versa. This has been, to me, one of the most beautiful relaxing partnerships I've ever had.



    Making Chicken Salad
    Yes, you can turn something that looks completely disgusting into a beautiful work of art with enough imagination and hard work.
    Been there, done that. .

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    What if both of you basically suck at this? Figure out what you are BOTH good at individually, and combine your strengths! One of my ex dance partners, Al, was great at Pop Locking and Hip Hop, and I was great at Salsa. We combined Chocolate (him) with Peanut Butter (me) and basically made Reeses!

    Yes... there IS HOPE! YOU CAN MAKE CHICKEN SALAD OUT OF CHICKEN SH____***T!!!

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    We were so unique and "out of this world" with crazy routines that combined hip hop / locking and Salsa that we eventually became in demand worldwide. It was an amazing experience. However, there was one time, when a promoter PREFERRED our social dancing to our performances, and asked us to close the Innsbruck, Austrian Congress with a Freestyle performance to Ran Kan Kan by Tito Puente! We were stunned that he wanted our freestyle social dancing OVER our routine that we had worked so hard putting together! We got a standing ovation. I write more about this later on below under "Routine or no Routine".



    Jealousy
    Dancers can be insanely jealous. Believe me. ESPECIALLY SALSA DANCERS - OMG. Let's not beat around the bush here. You must be prepared to feel like your partner owns you for some crazy reason. Although you may not even have a dating relationship with them, they may still not want you to dance with certain men or women.

    I wrote an article about jealousy here...


    Believe me, even if they don't show it, if you look better dancing with someone else, or if there is a threat of them losing you, I can guarantee you the subject will come up in one form or another. Feelings of insecurity and domination may come out, and this may be something you must be prepared to deal with. I would make it very clear up front that when you're practicing together, you're together. But when you're in a nightclub dancing socially, it's FAIR GAME out there and there are NO CLAIMS on you, by your partner, or anyone.

    Trust me, if you both agree to this all up front and in the beginning, it will save you a lot of mental stress, anxiety, jealousy, and pain later on. The dance relationship must remain a business and FUN relationship - with no personal, passionate feelings involved. Who cares if your partner looks great dancing with someone else? If you're both committed to each other, it shouldn't matter. You chose to work together, and that's it. Your partner chose YOU, so leave it at that. They know, that if they danced with someone else, they may not be able to get along. Remember, you are compatible, and they chose YOU as their partner for a reason. Trust in that, and respect them for it.
    On the other hand, if your partner is a DOG, and in the middle of your partnership decides to DUMP you for someone else, well, consider it a lesson of life. Don't stress about it. You won't be the first one this happened to, and you won't be the last. Something terrible would have happened between you anyway, so consider the situation a savior of that forthcoming event. Don’t show a long face, act sad or pissed, just brush it off, smile and wave, and MOVE ON. There is NO REASON to show your pain, to him/her, nor anyone else. If you do, YOU WILL LOOK BAD.


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    Not them. Remember, attitude is EVERYTHING. If you sulk, NO ONE will want to be your partner in the future. Remain happy - go - lucky, and always remember why you started dancing to begin with…

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    Respect Each Other

    One of the most essential traits about a good partnership is that you honestly respect and admire the way the other person dances.



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    You must honestly like your partner's style. You must like their sex appeal, their timing, and feel in your heart, that they're very, very good. You would be amazed at how much more fun and creative you both can be when you respect and enjoy each other's dance style. If you try to force yourself to like your partner for one reason or another, your partnership won't be fun, and will NOT last, much less win.

    I like having a blast when I dance, so I always end up with partners that crack me up while we're dancing - even if they're not the best of the best. I hate being too serious. If my partner makes me laugh, then I have a better attitude, and it truly shines during a performance. King Don Fiti, one of my favorite partners of all time, was always impersonating other dancers (and a particular promoter) while we're dancing. Sometimes I would laugh so hard, I lose the step, and screw up - but that's only when we're dancing socially. I had another partner whom I did a number of shows with that danced so "funky groovy" that I was in constant amazement with him. Sometimes I would want to stop dancing just to watch his body move and start laughing! I always say, that if you can make me laugh, that means you are REALLY REALLY good!!! Trust me, I am not laughing AT you. I'm admiring your TALENT!!



    Practice, Practice, Practice
    During practice, you've got to be tolerant of each other. You should set out your goals for the session, and then build from there, the next session. I highly recommend purchasing or borrowing a video camera for your practice sessions as this speeds up the rehearsal / finding mistake process. You may even think, "Oh, I'm not ready to be videotaped yet..." but I can guarantee you, if you don't start RIGHT AWAY, a lot of effort and hours will be wasted from the beginning. I suggest videotaping how you both dance together in the very beginning, keep the tape, and then compare how you dance together in a few weeks. I'm hear to tell you, you will NOT BELIEVE the difference and improvement if you can hold out that long.
    Practice Duration
    Professional - 2 - 4 hours per day, 6 days a week.
    Semi-Pro - 3 - 4 hours per day, 3 - 4 days a week.
    Amateur - 2 - 4 hours per day, 2 - 3 days a week.

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    The above are absolute minimum requirements. In Black Belt Salsa (BBS) Black Belt Competitive Training, we recommend professional time training at every level, at a minimum. My famous quote:

    "It is NOT the QUALITY of time you spend together,
    but the QUANTITY of time you spend together
    that makes an excellent partnership, and performance.
    - Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!




    Preparing for an Audience
    I also highly recommend getting a disinterested non-dancer, third party to occasionally come in and watch you not only perform, but rehearse as well. This will help you perform in front of an audience. If you've made it past the preliminary rounds, I suggest you also go to a popular dance studio and ask if you and your partner could do a show for one of their parties they usually hold for all their students on Friday nights.
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    Most dance studios have these types of social dance get-togethers" and are always delighted and consider it a treat to have an outsider, guest couple come in and perform a sexy Salsa or Mambo routine/exhibition for the "upcoming competition". This is INVALUABLE audience experience while preparing to be judged at the actual competition. You can even ask the studio instructors to video tape the performance, and ask their advice on where and how you can improve. They are always more than happy to help you in exchange for the free performance you just gave their students and patrons.



    Seeking Professional Advice
    Hiring a professional coach to help you out is very necessary. They will catch things that you may have missed, will help you with your choreography, and basically take you right up to the upper echelons of your fellow competitors. All winners of the world championship competitions seek professional advice and instruction. Having a 3rd party view your performance routine is invaluable and priceless. They can point out glitches or ambiguities in your choreography that you would never be able to see on your own, nor with a video camera. Your coach can provide ideas, insight, and save you hundreds of hours of wasted time. They can also buffer the both of you from fighting, as you will both be on your best behavior in front of a coach. I've heard of stories where some couples argue during rehearsal so much to the point of immobilization. They MUST have a coach during their rehearsals in order to get through them. Trust me, rehearsal time can get THAT stressful - especially at the professional levels where big money and your livelihood is at stake if you don't win.
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    Eye Contact
    Connecting with your Partner, Audience, and the Judges...I can't tell you how much judges will DESTROY your score if you constantly look down at the floor while competing. I don't care how nervous you are, you HAVE to look up, at your partner, then at the audience with big smiles. Remember, the audience is LOOKING at what YOU"RE looking at! They are invited into YOUR WORLD, not the other way around!


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    Nervousness
    I wrote another article here at Dancer Hangout about Beating Nervousness for Competitors that you should have a look at.
    If you're nervous, practice more. Period.

    Remember, it's the QUANTITY of time spent rehearsing, not the QUALITY of time... You need to get your moves and routine embedded in your muscle-memory and literally make them part of your DNA, FIRST AND FOREMOST - this comes with doing the routine over and over, at a minimum of 100 times before putting it on stage - with no stops in the middle. That's really not a lot. It's only ten times over a period of ten days. Some do it 1000 times without stopping in the middle. You should then do your routines with your full costumes at least 30 times before they are ready for the stage. The more you practice, the less you nervous you will be.

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    STOP CARING SO MUCH OF WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF YOU!!!

    WHO REALLY CARES...
    REALLY...?

    NOBODY.



    It is your JOB to burn a hole in that floor and tear it in HALF out for them out there. Rip it apart and TAKE NAMES LATER. You should completely care less what people think of you AT ALL TIMES when on stage. You should Absolutely CARE LESS.

    THIS my friend, is Attitude and Confidence - A sure recipe of champions. I wrote another article on what it takes to be a Champion. It's pretty good, as I was in THE ZONE as I wrote it. It came directly from Source. .




    Costumes / Outfits
    Your outfits should match in color and fabric, or at least be similar. I suggest PRACTICING WITH THEM ON,and doing your entire routine while wearing them FIRST, before you compete. Don't just practice ONCE with them on, but several times. There is nothing more embarrassing and terrifying than when a crotch-snap on a bodysuit unsnaps open when you have on a flare skirt and NO UNDERWEAR.

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    There is also nothing more frustrating to watch than a strap on a woman's dress that keeps falling over her shoulders and getting in the way of her arm movements. That's one of the reasons why I suggest ALWAYS carrying at least THREE extra safety pins to every competition. Pin them on under your skirt in a hidden place in case there is an emergency on stage just minutes prior to your performance. Believe me, the audience gets COMPLETELY DISTRACTED when you try to pull your outfit back together in the middle of your routine.

    I also suggest bringing an extra pair of dance shoes in case of an emergency. During the Mayan contest, the strap on my shoe broke off during the warm-up. I had no other shoes to wear! So I did the routine while dragging my right foot, and tried to hide the fact that I could not lift up my foot for fear of my shoe falling off! The ONLY reason we made it to the semi-finals was because we were the only professional couple competing that night at the Preliminaries! I could have danced barefoot, and it wouldn't have mattered.

    Outfit problems DO NOT GO UNNOTICED in the middle of a performance. The audience notices EVERYTHING. Videotape yourself with your competition outfit on. Ladies, if your butt or breasts end up hanging half-way out after the first 30 seconds, don't wear it. Why? Because that's all the audience NOTICES. You can forget about a killer routine. If your body parts are falling out all over the place, TRUST ME, it looks bad. When this happens, I've seen guys look at the woman this is happening to, look at each other, look down in embarrassment, shake their heads, and cover their eyes. Believe me, you'll look sloppy, unprofessional, and unprepared. I am here to tell you, this is FAR FROM sexy.

    And don't think your "butt" is "all that".
    It's not, OK?

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    Remember, ESPECIALLY during a competition, everyone is watching and evaluating you like a hawk. They are watching you through a MAGNIFYING glass, just waiting for you to screw up. Nightclub audiences are so unbelievably critical it's scarey. If you think too hard about what they're thinking about you, you'll screw up. So don't think about it. Forget about the audience. Be as comfortable and relaxed as you can.


    If you like your outfit, and it's COMFORTABLE during competitive Salsa dancing, (ie., you can run a 100 yard dash with it on, do a few cartwheels, toe-touches, full-body twists, a back hand-spring, and 50 jumping jacks IN A BLOWING STORM WIND, without it falling off or apart), you'll be just fine.

    You will be surprised at how many last minute outfit emergencies happen because of a strap too tight or loose, or dress too long or in the way. Don't wear outfits that are too flashy or gaudy, just something simple, slick, and in good taste. Ask several friends their opinions BEFORE you compete with them, and NOT your mother or family. Your friends will have a better and more accepting opinion.



    Your Music
    I cannot stress enough to you, how important your music selection is. I've seen COUNTLESS competitions where I knew the competitors were phenomenal, but they chose slow or drab music that completely MESSED IT UP for themselves.


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    Bad music will rob you of a win if you're not careful. Just because YOU like a song, doesn't mean that anyone else will. You've GOT to choose dance-able, up-beat music that will ROCK THE HOUSE just from people hearing it. You want to affect the crowd with the song, and for everyone to say "Wow!!! I love that song!" You can even mask a poor routine or tiny mistakes you make with the music your choose believe it or not. I've seen it happen.





    Fellow Competitors
    It's amazing how much everyone suddenly stops talking to each other, or hides moves in nightclubs because they don't want other competitors steeling their moves.


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    Well, it's true. If you show your best stuff before the competition, and in the Preliminary and Semi-final rounds, others will work harder to beat you, or even perfect/copy your moves for the finals - this has happened to my partner and I on countless occasions. You will be surprised at all the identical moves at final competitions. Uniqueness is important. Try not to duplicate. Save your BEST and most complicated moves for the Finals. You'll need them to have that "edge" in the end.




    To Do a Routine, or Not Do a Routine
    If your partner is an off-beater, do a routine. Reason? If they can't keep the rhythm, they'll be noticed, and the judges will see that. A very well-planned, thought-out routine to the peaks and valleys of pre-selected music will mask the off-beater's problem. On the other hand, if your partner dances very well to the rhythm, and this is a "street" Salsa/Mambo Nightclub dance competition, I would just dance normally, and throw in a few awesome moves during the peaks, valleys, and natural pauses in the music. The man should be familiar enough with the song and also be able to calculate when these will happen.


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    The chances of you screwing up a pre-planned routine are very high. If you dance well together in nightclubs, and you both are on beat, a routine is really not necessary - especially for street dancing (aka social dancing) nightclub competitions. I've seen professional couples put together a pre-planned choreographed routine for a competition, and NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO, they never look as good as when they're just dancing free style. I've tried telling performers and competitors this, but no one seems to believe me.

    They just look at me like a Deer in Headlights, and think I'm crazy.

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    You have to fit a lot of cool moves into 2 minutes. To prevent forgetting to do them (and to avoid the WRATH of your partner reminding you of this afterward....), practice the tough moves and perform them in the first part of your performance. Plan what your entrance will be and that's basically it. Let her know in advance which set of moves you plan on doing. Name your moves, and call them out while you're dancing. Make it natural. It will look better and both of you will feel and look more natural, rather than the "all too familiar", wide-eyed, calculating, scared-out-of-your-mind look.

    As I said earlier, a promoter wanted us to close their Congress with Freestyle performance on-stage over our canned routines. Now I simply perform Musicality "Freestyle" performances where we hit the breaks of the music, rather than try to put together a show. A Musicality performance dazzles the audience just as much as a pre-rehearsed routine - especially when they know in advance that it is un-rehearsed!





    Finding Moves
    Where do you find good moves? Lots of places. You can tailor your own moves just goofing around at a nightclub, you can watch other dancers, competitive Ballroom, Figure Skating, Swing, Jazz, Ballet, Cirque du Solei, Olympic gymnastics, Tango and Hustle videos, and you can also hire a professional to teach you moves. This is what ALL THE PROS DO. The Pros study videos, first and foremost.

    There are thousands and thousands of dance moves. The chances of you "creating" a new move are very slim. One time we were watching "West Side Story" - a movie made in the 1950's. My danced partner, who had never seen it, suddenly burst out, "HEY! They STOLE MY MOVE!!!" I BUSTED up laughing. He really believed they put his dance move in the movie!!!


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    What you do is tailor the moves you see others do, to your own style and techniques. Add a twist or spin to it, or do it completely backwards! You may even see a move, and do it backwards or to a different timing. You may even add a drop, or dip to the end that would make it unique. You may even perform the move multiple times and call it "new". Needless to say, there are no "new moves" - just tailored replications of moves that are decades old that other people have copied, tailored, copied, tailored, and copied, tailored again.



    Remembering Moves

    We used to write the names of the moves on pieces of 8 x 10 paper, and tape them up in our dance studio (his garage). We could then see them in plain view, call them out and practice each one while dancing. This prevented us from working on a routine. We would be able to see the name of the move as we were dancing, practicing calling it out in the middle of freestyle dancing, perfecting it, then moving on to the next, and next, and next, and not forgetting what move we had done weeks earlier!


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    We used to type up a list of all our moves on the computer, and bring them to practice so we could review them prior to dancing. Sometimes I would even bring my laptop to practice! We spent so much time together working on new moves, that it seemed we were ALWAYS forgetting to rehearse the moves and practice old stuff we had learned weeks before. The taped-up pages and list of moves proved invaluable for us.

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    Facing the Audience
    Don't forget to face your audience not just at the end, but in the middle of your routine! I can't tell you how many times I've seen the guy put the woman in what appeared to be a beautiful dip or drop, but all you saw was his back side!


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    Dealing with Losing
    I wrote an article about this very topic here. Losing is part of winning. The worst thing you can do is blame your partner. Been there, done that.


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    Think about it. You both worked so hard for something that you wanted so badly, and it didn't happen for one reason or another. There's always tomorrow, and the next go-around. Every loss gets you closer to a win, statistically. World famous baseball player Babe Ruth scored more Home Runs than any human being on the planet. He also had more strike-outs than any other human being as well.



    If at first you don't succeed, try, and try again. Never, EVER quit. Especially on each other.





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    There's so much more...
    There truly is so much more to talk about competing, and I will be adding more articles here at Dancer Hangout as I make the time.
    I've revealed many secrets that have helped me win six local competitions, two international competitions, and place top three in four others - with many different partners. Best of luck to all of you. I know what you're going though, believe me. I'll be rooting for you!



    Happy Practicing!!

    - Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!
    www.SalsaFreak.com



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    Latest Articles

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    • How World Champions use "The Zone"
      staffster

      By Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!

      How World Champions use "The Zone"


      "Dear Edie, We are getting ready for the World Salsa Championships in Europe. We have our doubts - because everyone is so good. The rehearsals are agony, and we are struggling with our choreography. It seems we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. The entire preparation is a slow and painful process. Last week, we both just wanted to quit. I'm beginning to wonder if we are even cut out for this. How do the Champions do it, and do well every single year? We are writing the famous, Edie, The Salsa Freak for some 'Grand words of encouragement'.
      - Exhausted Italian Competitor


      Dear Exhausted Italian Competitor,

      The Champion wins first,
      ... then enters the race.


      A World Champion does not see the entire process from "A" to "Z".
      They just see "Z".


      After the World Champion sees, feels, smells, and tastes the end result ("Z") in their minds,
      they then work their way back to "A" which was (is) now the starting point.


      ...
      01-18-2014, 01:47 PM
    • The Competitors Edge. Tips for Developing Your "Winning Edge"
      staffster

      The Competitors Edge

      Tips for Developing Your "Winning Edge"
      by Edie, The Salsa FREAK

      With the overwhelming popularity of partner dancing lately, more and more dancers all over the world are busy looking, choosing, and quietly deciding who to partner with. This month, I'd like to discuss how to find (and keep) a good dance partner, and how to prepare for a dance competition.

      Aside from our partner-search service, partners can be found in classified ads in the newspaper, in dance magazines, at dance studios, colleges, universities, at the gym, and in nightclubs.

      The first thing you have to decide on, is what type of partnership commitment YOU, YOURSELF are willing to make on a personal level.


      RESEARCH first, THEN decide.



      Can you honestly say "Yes" to the following?

      • Are you willing to dedicate countless hours with someone, day in and day out, week after week, and possibly month after month?


      • Do you have the physical energy left after your day job, to practice into the late hours of the night, very very hard?


      • Are you willing to put up with the bruises, falls, accidental hits and physical demands placed on your body?


      • Are you willing to adjust and move around your otherwise "normal" schedule to fit in the hours, days, and weeks of practice sessions?


      • Are you willing to motivate and encourage the partner you choose when they just don't seem like they're with it, nor worth it anymore?


      • Are you willing to pay the money for studio time, music, outfits, and sometimes needed professional instruction?


      • Are you willing to withstand your partner's bad habits (ie smoking, smell, poor attitude, demanding personality, off-beat problem, farting or burping problem, jealous husband/girlfriend/wife problem, kid problem, dress problem, weight problem, hair problem, dance problem, acne problem, posture problem, lead problem, following problem, etc) during the weeks of preliminary rounds, then semi-final rounds, then final rounds?


      • Are you willing to give up television?

      • Are you willing to give up time with your loved ones for a few weeks or maybe even months?


      • Are you willing to commit to hours and hours of grueling practice with your partner instead of going out and spending time with all your friends at your favorite nightclubs?



      • [*=center]Are you willing to chance all this for little or no return?




      These questions, my friends, are what you need to ask YOURSELF first. Once you've made the decision, and your desire to compete and perform is more powerful than your good sense, you're ready to find a partne...
      01-18-2014, 01:39 PM
    • Controversial Moves, Controversial Contests
      staffster
      Controversial Moves, Controversial Contests
      By Terryl Jones, of Let's Dance LA
      www.letsdancela.com
      Edie, It was fun getting to spend time with you this weekend. Enio and I work and travel so much that I rarely get to spend time talking to another girl. We have made the decision to not travel quite so much and therefore I look forward to getting to spend more time visiting. We both look forward to working with you more in the future. Below is the article that I wrote. I warned you that it is somewhat inflammatory, but I really wanted to start some dialog along these lines. The more things are brought out into the open, the better they can be dealt with. Terryl I have judged and seen many dance ...
      01-18-2014, 01:00 PM
    • Salsa Competitions
      staffster


      Competitions, Competing, Judging... etc, etc...
      By Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!


      Edie's Thoughts...
      I've spoken, and "typed" to tons of people about the competition. I could write for hours and hours about all the stories both good and bad,coming in right and left about this contest. But first of all, let me say from what I've been told and what I've seen, that the Los Angeles Mayan Salsa Competition is the most glamorous, most prestigious Salsa competition in the world right now. Consider that the Mayan holds almost 2,000 people, and 2,000 people are WATCHING this competition. Every Saturday, 2,000 people stand in line dance Salsa. That, in itself, is incredible. The Mayan did a great job this year of making sure everyone in the audience could see the dancers. They erected an enormous big-screen above the stage that projected the dancers close-up and live - just like they do in a rock concert! The people in the balcony could see, as well as all the people in the audience below. It was just wonderful. I noticed that a lot of the city's most famous and talented Salsaros got there early (like at 9:00pm!!) these last few weeks - now I know why! Each week of the competition, the Mayan was packed. Full, CAPACITY, Bursting at...
      01-18-2014, 12:40 PM
    • Over, In Just Two Minutes
      staffster


      My Most Memorable Competition
      - By Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!

      From downstairs in the basement of the Mayan Nightclub in Los Angeles, you can faintly hear the music upstairs, muffled, but still loud and electrifying. You feel the distant pulse of the music run through your body and magically into your heart. You're with all the other competitors now. You look at the number you've drawn from that jar. It's the number you were destined to have - the order in which you're about to dance. Whether first, second, or last, everybody is at first surprised, maybe disappointed, maybe happy. For those of us who are disappointed in the numbers we drew, we try to rationalize it in our minds so we don't dwell on it.... "Oh, we're first - I don't know...." Or, "Oh no, we're last!!" Or, "Ugh, we're number four!"

      You notice their fancy outfits, their glitter and diamonds. You see some of them rehearsing their routines, some of them sitting on a couch in the corner with their eyes closed. Some of them are stretching their leg muscles, others are just chatting with each other, trying to talk their nervousness away...

      They signal, it's time.


      Your partner grabs your hand, and gently squeezes it. He looks at you softly, gives you that little wink, then smiles, as if saying, "It's going to be OK.". You feel better as you start walking up those stairs, hand-in-hand with your...
      01-18-2014, 12:07 PM
    • Ballroom Mambo vs Salsa Nightclub Style - WTF?
      staffster

      by Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!

      I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.
      - George Bernard Shaw





      Dear Edie,
      Do you think there is a difference between what you do and what you normally see from people with ballroom dance training (especially on shows like Dancing with the Stars, etc.)? If so, how would you explain that difference?
      - Curious



      Dear Curious,
      Club style is more relaxed, dynamic and fun.
      Ballroom style is more stiff because of rules, regulations and restrictions.
      - Edie


      Later that day...
      Edie,
      Thanks, I appreciate the information. Now, a follow-up with explanation. If you can help, I would appreciate it.


      I am involved with a group of Spanish teachers (about two dozen of us) that put on regular competitions for our students. One of the events is Latin dance. The students dance Merengue, Salsa, Cumbia (Norteña) and Tango Argentino. For years I recruited judges that were "street" or "club" dancers, but due to circumstances over which I have no control, these judges have been dropping out. Lately we have had teachers who are ballroom dancers join in the activities. They have been bringing their friends (also ballroom dancers) in to judge and now we have a "battle" going over which is "best." The ballroom dancers don't seem to be able to get it through their heads that there is a difference and I don't know how to explain it to them. As a result, those of us that are more club dancers are finding that our students always get judged lower than the other kids who
      ...
      07-27-2013, 04:16 PM
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