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  • Too Stiff

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    "Dear Edie,
    I am from [country], and I love doing the Salsa. I have been learning by going to clubs since about May of 1997. I'm just gonna cut right to the chase. I love doing the Salsa, right, but I have some problems with the way I dance....My favorite dancing partner tells me that I really need to loosen up, that I am too tense and that I dont move my hips enough. I know he is right. Suggestions?
    - Stiff"


    Dear Stiff,
    Your makeup, in other words, the way God made you, may not be capable of moving the way your partner pictures you moving. His idea of what you should look like may be physically impossible for you. We’re all made up differently. Trying to be someone else kills the natural "you". Salsa is a dance that allows "you" to be "you".

    However, if you still feel your body movement could improve, then I suggest you first try relaxing a bit. Lighten up out there. Hang, you know? Take a load off, and just completely RELEASE, let go, be lazy a bit, walk it through, don't try to "dance" per se, just "walk" it through. Salsa looks better when you don't "try" so hard.

    If that doesn't work, then find a gal that dances the way you would like to dance, and pay her to teach you how it’s done. Take an hour a week until you get it. If you’ve been dancing since May, and have never taken a formal private lesson from a good female instructor, then it’s about time you start. A WHOLE NEW WORLD will open up. She will not only teach you women’s styling, but point out things to you that you would have NEVER KNOWN. She will be able to spot EXACTLY what your problems are, and where you can improve.

    Ask her if you can physically touch her hips as they move. This will truly help you understand in a kinesthetic way, rather than visually or intellectually. When I teach women how to shimmy their shoulders, they ALWAYS get it when I have them touch my shoulder blades in the back while I do it.

    Sometimes, no amount of "words" can describe a feeling, or a movement. YOU GOTTA "FEEL IT". Feel that vibrational energy move through her body to your fingertips. There, the information will transfer RAPIDLY to that part of your brain where the trigger point will be, to "move/relax" the mirrored part of your "own" body.

    IT REALLY WORKS. I do this with both men and women when I teach lead and follow. It's called "Gender flipping". This is a standard in the Black Belt Dance Instructor Training curriculum.

    It took one of my female instructors, (I have many) , three solid lessons with me for me to FINALLY get JUST THE BASIC hip movement right - and I had been dancing for over a year! I still have problems getting it perfect - it’s a challenge! If you still feel you have a problem after a few lessons from a female instructor from a club, then I would suggest taking some competitive ballroom training. There, you will find a very regimented breakdown of every inch of your body, from the tips of your toes, to the top hairs of your head. They start with posture, then foot placement, then knee alignment, then hip movement, then buttocks placement, then how your back should be positioned, then shoulder placement, then your arm positions, then hand flares, then neck alignment, then head movements…. Even to how your hair should be done!!! AAAAAaaaahhhh!!! But do give it a shot - this may be what you need for a while. It will definitely make you aware of your physical abilities, refine your strengths, eliminate your weaknesses, and test your tolerance as a dancer. It’s worth it.

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