Here are some questions I get with some degree of frequency.
What kinds of dances do you do / will I learn about in this blog?
This blog is primarily about the social Afro Latin dances (not ballroom Latin) — salsa, bachata, kizomba, and lambazouk. Some swing here and there.
What are your credentials? Why should I listen to you?
I have been dancing some form of dance or another for 31 years now. I have been doing the partner dances since around 2013. But more important than length of time dancing, in my opinion, is the attention and intention with which you do it.
I learn something new every time I go out dancing. I pay voracious attention and actively seek out feedback. But it is by no means all of the wisdom available.
I would never say that I have all the answers. I know I don’t. This attitude is actually what helps me improve. I hope to never stop improving.
What’s the best dance to start out with as a beginner?
This is an excellent question. The majority of people start with salsa simply because its the most ubiquitous dance.
That being said, it entirely depends on two things: your range of physical abilities and preferences, and which dance speaks to you the most.
The dance which requries the least physical fitness and is the least risky in terms of injury is kizomba (though its easy to get stepped on at the beginning). It does require, or teach, the ability to make subtle isolated movements with the torso. It doesn’t require any acrobatics or aerobic capacity. It’s a super lovely connected dance with a lot of intricacies and subtleties, but simply not demanding.
Bachata for me, personally, is the perfect mix between delicate and undemanding on one hand and lively and aerobic on the other– which one of these it is varies a lot by the kind of music played and the leader you’re with. Like kizomba, it also requires, or teaches, a lot of subtle torso isolations. It is not all that physically demanding and low risk for injury, but as sensual bachata becomes more popular across Europe and now the US, a lot of zouk-type moves are becoming part of the dance’s regular language.
Salsa is a lively dance, but it doesn’t require the same kind of flexibility as other dances like bachata and zouk. It is quicker and more challenging than bachata to learn from the get-go. This investment can pay off big, however, since the speed, precision, and turn technique it teaches can later translate great into other dances. If you want to dance a dance that is worldwide and that happens many days a week in most major cities, salsa is the dance for you.
Lambazouk (commonly just called zouk, derived from lambada) is a reasonably demanding dance (it doesn’t have to be, but it often is) that requires a lot of energy and which requires great flexibility in the back and neck. It is most certainly not for the faint of heart. Of course many people do start dance with zouk, but it does have its own flavor and unique set of relatively demanding skills.
West coast swing is probably the second most demanding dance after lambada/zouk, as it requires a lot of moving. Of all the dances this one probably will give followers the best work out. But it also requires the least subtlety in torso movements (this subtlety just happens elsewhere, often in the hands). WCS is also, in my opinion, the most complex and most cerebral dance: it’s the only dance where every congress (event) you go to is full of both pros and beginners vigorously debating the philosophy and techniques of the dance. That being said, if you believe that the more nuanced and complex the dance, the better it is (as I do), you may find WCS to be the perfect dance for you. It has a reputation for being the most challenging partner dance, and for good reason. Don’t let this scare you off, though. WCS is super friendly to beginners. It also has a totally different community feel than the latin dances. It is diverse in its age range of practitioners (but not necessarily ethnicities…), is super progressive in terms of gender roles, and, quite simply, earnest.
How long will it take me to become a good follower/dancer?
Great question. I have no idea how long it will take me to be a good follower. I always think, “maybe next week” or “maybe next year.” If I don’t put a limit on where I can go, then, the plan is, I will be constantly improving.
If you are earnest in your dancing and present with your partner when you dance, I would say, definitively, that you are already an amazing follower.
The physical skills that come with following take time to develop. The more frequently you dance and the more you conscientiously attempt to connect, balance, and interpret better, the more quickly you will improve.
Where do I find a resource like this for leaders?
You don’t, so far as I know. (Sorry :/ ) However, I do talk about leading a fair bit, and a lot of the posts in this blog about following are highly relevant to thinking about leading and also learning how to lead. If you can get yourself into a follower’s perspective, you will find your leading improving, I can promise you that.
What kinds of dances do you teach?
Trick question! I don’t teach. 🙂
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