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Fancy Footwork


  • Fancy Footwork

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    "Dear Edie,
    I am so glad I finally met you! You are every bit as great in person as in letters! I would love to see you with your partner, and will surely come find you if I go down to L.A.

    You have inspired me to work on my styling more, practicing footwork, arm flairs, and head stuff AT HOME (!) before I try it at a club. Can I pester you with a few questions? I saw you do some really neat footwork. I often break away from the right-left-right-(tap or kick)-left-right-left-(tap or kick) for a stop (like when you are moving your upper body but not your feet) or for a more elaborate step. I have no trouble keeping my place in the music with a stop, but for other steps it is a little dangerous because 1. I will get occasionally get lost as to whether we are on 1 or 4, especially if 2. the leader won't always wait for the step to finish. Do you just wait for a opening with enough time for your move, or do you make your own time by breaking away, or somehow communicating to the leader to wait? (Sometimes I can do this in tango, but the context is quite different.) And, when you are doing a complicated step, are you still always conscious of where you are in 1-6 in case you are lead out midway?
    "- Finding Fancy Footwork Fun" - Finding Fancy Footwork Fun[/I][/COLOR]

    Dear Finding Fancy Footwork Fun,
    Thank you for the compliments! It was a pleasure meeting you as well!

    OK, to answer your question, when styling in the middle of moves, the best time to add a slight kick or tap is on the "slow" of the "quick, quick, slow" step.* Take advantage of the pauses and breaks in the music. Remember, the dance is just a "walk" if you think about it. As long as you remember to walk it through, right, left, right, left, and stay on the count (whether it be on the "one" or the "two" or whatever you break on) you should be OK in picking up the timing and staying in step with your partner.

    Learning good shine moves and techniques takes time and practice, practice, practice. You've GOT to end up in step - in the rhythm. You have to practice so as to end up going FORWARD when he goes BACKWARD. That's the most important thing. Sometimes, I'll purposely whisper to myself, in the middle of a shine, "forward, backward, forward, backward" and completely forget about the actual "count".

    Reason? Counting messes me up sometimes. BUT watching his feet through my peripheral vision really helps. Sometimes you'll both get messed up and end up "off" the rhythm entirely (meaning he'll be coming forward toward you, and you will be going forward towards him, resulting in an embarrassing collision). In this case, the man should pause for a quick second, and wait for the woman to resume the step. He should politely pick up where she's stepping. This is proper Salsa dance etiquette.

    Regarding breaking away from the leader. Rarely will I purposely break away from my partner if my partner doesn't lead me into a break away. I'll only do it if he's drunk or obnoxious, or simply can't partner dance AT ALL. I think I've only purposely broken away my partner twice in three years. The first time, not only did I break away from him, but I slapped him VERY HARD right in the face.** The second time I had to break away, I was so disgusted I just walked off the dance floor and refused to dance with him for a solid year.*

    When my partner DOES break me away, allowing me to do some solo shines, then, YOU BET, I'll go BALLS OUT and STRUT MY STUFF WOMAN! You know... SHOW WHAT I GOT... flaunt it... WHAT EVA' - no restraints, no shyness, just 110% of pure, LET IT ALL OUT sexy shines!!! During the solo, is your chance and opportunity to "shine daaaahhhhhhling"

    When you're saying the leader won't always wait for the shine step to finish, (I've had that happen on occasion), then you just kind of have to jump right back into his rhythm. It will not be very pretty, nor smooth, but he'll realize very quickly that he didn't let you finish, and did not "ease" back into your arms like he should have. Believe me, if he knows what he's doing, he's feeling real stupid at this point.

    Good Salseros pay very close attention to their partners - not the audience nor crowd, but THEIR PARTNERS. THE WOMEN THEY'RE DANCING WITH. Being a great Salsero is like being a great lover. They watch them closely, catch their eyes. They wait for the most pristine opportunity to softly and gently slide right into a woman's arms after her shine step. They know EXACTLY when she needs her space, and know EXACTLY when to slip in and take her back.

    I know I'm probably getting a bit off the subject here, but I'm inspired to write this. Some men don't like to put the woman into a solo. Some men are so interested in the turn patterns and moves that they forget ABOUT THE WOMEN THEY'RE DANCING WITH!!! Some men REFUSE TO LET YOU GO!!! I swear, sometimes, I'll get an ITCH ON MY NOSE and the guy just WILL NOT LET GO OF BOTH MY HANDS!!! It drives me NUTS when that happens! Or, I'll get a clump of my HAIR stuck in my MOUTH, and he STILL WON'T LET MY HANDS GO so I can pull the hair out of my mouth! What I end up doing is SPITTING IT OUT, and with the awful sound that makes, the guy gives me this strange look, and I end up feeling EMBARRASSED for no reason! After all, it was HIS FAULT that he wouldn't let go of my arms for TWO LOUSY seconds so I could pull myself together!

    Men, you've GOT to pay attention to your partners. Watch their faces, their eyes, their hair - make sure they are well taken care of in the dance. If they need to break away for a second, let them. If they are doing a shine, let them finish it. Ease back into their arms. Follow their timing. Watch your partner closely.

    Be aware of her every need, move, and facial expression.

    She may be trying to TELL YOU SOMETHING!

    Happy Dancing!
    - Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!
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