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Is crossing the clave in dance moves OK?

 
Me
timberamayor

Administrator

26 posts

In a thread about tumba francesa Richard asked the following question that seems to be a good way to start a dance thread.
“You see even peer-respected ruedas from Cuba invent moves that cross the clave. The 1 count becomes the 5 count. I don’t know that any of these moves have ever been accepted by other groups and used. I regard them as just simple mistakes, that need to be forgotten, does anyone really think it’s legit ? This comes out of some local face-to-face discussion, some people wanted to add them to a local “reportoire”.

 
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Ponchek

Member

14 posts

Not sure I fully understood what he meant… you mean when instead of dancing on 1 you dance on 5 (lets say you usually start with your left foot quick step on 1 so this would be that you start with your left foot quick step on 5 and when 1 comes again its now your right foot)?

If that is the case, imo, in general situation it is not so important. Personally I like to dance with my left foot on 1 because the most of combinations feel better that way (i am talking in regards to music ofc). But most important attribute of cuban music is diversity meaning that there are a lot of songs that could make you feel better if you dance the other way. It boils down to current song and how you feel it and not something to think about much.

For rueda its a bit different for me. In general its better that everybody try to hold to the same standards. But if you have group of people who know each other, like to dance in some specific way on some songs then go for it. :-) But for ruedas always think about who is with you in it, and how much he knows about dance.

 
Wilber
rcurzon

Member

9 posts

Hey Ponchek, here’s an example.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGmBWFlbhuw

These guys are going fine, basically dancing on 3, then about 3:10 watch the side to side changes for the break foot. There’s an emphasized left step, I think it was a dile que no, then the girl goes under his arm, followed by a guy’s right step back. The right step back SHOULD be a left step… going by the clave they are holding up to that point… the thing is, the move is a half measure “too long” and puts everything after it on the opposite of the clave.

Now… that isn’t all THAT noticable when you are dancing based on the 3 beat like these guys… in my opinion anyway. But if you are dancing on the 1 beat as is more usual, it is really noticeable to the dancers.

It’s the same thing as in a band, when one of the musicians starts doing a clave theme but on the wrong side, and the musicians call it “cruzado”... nothing musically wrong, but the clave feel is busted.

Granted there is limited use of crossing the clave in music too, but it usually comes at a turning point in the music, not at a random point like this. Or do other people feel differently, maybe somebody likes the feel?

 
Me
timberamayor

Administrator

26 posts

OK I’m going to go watch the video and see what you mean. If they are dancing on three they should be stepping on 3,4,5 7,8,1.

And then you say they do some sort of thing where either they skip the 4 and start again on the 5…or…how do they get to the 5? hmmm. I’ll get back to you after I see it. Assuming I can even catch it jajaja. I bet it’s something I would never notice.

BTW I know that Eric Freeman has a couple of moves in one of his videos that switch you from dancing on1 to on5. What that may add to the discussion I don’t know but there they are.

I’ll be back…

 
Me
timberamayor

Administrator

26 posts

Well I watched the video and the seem to be moving around between 1 and 3 several times. I would probably have to dance the move to see if it bothered me. I guess in general I don’t worry if I’m dancing on the 2 side of the clave or the three side of the clave. I mean that’s really what the difference would be isn’t it? Your feet are still touching down on the same beats.

 
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Ponchek

Member

14 posts

ok so if i got it right, they started on3 then around 0:55 switch on reverse on1 (aka on5) then around 3:10 switched back on3 and then after few secs switched to reverse on3 (aka on7).
considering this is choreography it doesnt mater imo. they have complex figures that are for some sort of shows or contests and not usable to dance with on a party (you can dance it only if exactly those ppl are in rueda, anybody else who doesnt know those moves cant do those moves).
i would say anything is legit in salsa but that would be overstatement. : – ) but for this i do not see anything wrong, only doubt that it will become some usual moves in global repertoire. on the other hand a lot of rueda shows and teams in competitions use playing with different steps to show off their skill. and if its done right and in right time on music can be rather effective.
to conclude: if you can do it and it feels right to you, to your partner, to your rueda, do it.

 
Wilber
rcurzon

Member

9 posts

Some cubans can go by logic, but almost all of them always go by feel. Outsiders can go by feel but often go by logic. In our rueda, both the non-Cubans and the Cubans tend to go more by feel. So you’d think maybe they’d go for those moves.

However when we have tried out moves like that, in the past 1 by 1 we start to feel something not right in the flow… we start saying “it needs fixing”.

I think there is a ying-yang force in rueda dancing like other dancing… it’s either driven by feel… or driven by show. “Feel” is for the dancers … and of course, anyone watching who can tune into that. “Show” is more universal outside Cuba… the audience sometimes has very little “feel” for the music… and you see the “show” side dominates even the big “cuban style” festivals.

I still have a gut feeling that if your dancing is driven by the music, by “feel”, then you will feel something wrong in following these changes. Our groups would say sooner or later, that needs fixing.

Obviously these are Cubans in the clip… who grew up with the music… and they do it quite happily.

But to convert me, I believe I would have to see the changes enjoyed more… done with gusto. A good dancer is all it takes to make you feel good about a move that seems awkward.

Instead it looks slightly awkward even with these dancers… they seem to be trying to get past these switches in rhythm, not relishing it.

Even Cuban groups who practice set routines, many never do things like that… and IMO it’s because they have a better feel.

I prefer to say “set” over “choreographed”, because the former just means good solid dance moves put together smartly… the latter conjures ideas of “dramatic enhancements” shall we say… which usually mean, the group will perform with all-show, and no-feel.

E.g. here’s a group whose feel and flow Iove, I bet they would not adopt those moves without “fixing” ;-) If you watch, can you imagine them fitting in a move that crosses clave?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2AwlHseOJY

Which leads to another wonder: why do the very best Cuban ruedas (assuming we could agree on that ;-) always seem to prefer on 1: starting on the 1, and then staying there like a rock?

It helps when the music is less ambiguous, sometimes I would say Cuban songs are “all about” the 1 beat even though they have a lot of other stuff going on – like Pupy’s music. Other times, like Manolito’s Diablo Colorao, the background rhythms almost take over at various times … that’s when I would say, if a good dancer could “express” this change positively with gusto, then I would understand it ;-)

 
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Ponchek

Member

14 posts

very interesting video i must say :- )
but :- )
if my ears and eyes are not tricking me they start dancing on5 (on1 but reversed) from start and continue to do so until 2:30 when they switch to dancing on1, same thing like those in first video did. (to test it just look how men are dancing at around 2:00, start dancing in same time as they do with your left foot, then after their little set that is at 2:30 you will see that when they start dancing basic step again they will be different than you who continued to do basic step whole time).
they also switch from on1 to on3 at around 3:43 when they do the parallel move of whole rueda while also doing some sort of set with their feet in witch they do the switch.
so i would not agree cubans stick to on1 like a rock :- ) but i do agree that 99% of these switches happens in choreography where ppl in rueda have arranged sets that are used to do the switches.
i am also a fan of dancing on1 or on2 or on3 and not on5, on6, on7 but i think there are exceptions, like i said, if you feel it do it. :- )

 
Me
timberamayor

Administrator

26 posts

What about that move when you switch so that every other couple is dancing on5? Doesn’t that mean then that you deliberately choose to have half of the rueda dancing “cruzado”? And does it matter? Of course eventually it is “fixed” when they switch back to everyone on1 (unless by some chance they come out of it with everyone on5)

I have danced couple casino with guys that lead moves that switch you from 1 to 5 or back again. It hasn’t ever caused me any problems to follow them.

Just like any other rueda move, if you don’t know it you can’t do it anyway unless it’s very simple and you are very good at following a split second after. So I don’t think it matters if you are doing “cruzado” moves in a public or private rueda. If it is in the repertoire of the local dancers it will work fine.

 
Wilber
rcurzon

Member

9 posts

Ponchek, you are right with the on 5 and the switch in the 1830 video.

I guess I’ll say more, try to expand without repeating ;-)

I don’t have much of a problem starting on-5 or on-1. The basic moves are split between those that feel strong on 1 and those that feel strong on 5.

Guapea/marcar feels strong on the 5, dile que no feels strong on the 1. So the basic steps have a kind of built-in swing off-beat/on-beat whichever side you start on.

But switching once you start … hmmm.. It wouldn’t fly in couples dancing, do you agree? The guys who switch from dancing on 1 to dancing on 5 mid-song, don’t get many second dances ;-). No-one assumes it is anything but “perdiendo el compas”, bad dancing.

Switching steps is okay for sure: you can see when good dancers switch from QQSlow to mambo, to despelote, that each change is tied to the music.

You can plainly see: their expression of the music is thoroughly enjoyed.

My first live Cuban music show was Los Van Van more than 10 years ago.

But I still remember, I didn’t get the music… too much polyrhythm it, it threw me off… every time I got with it, something changed ;-)

the “EXPLANATION” of the music… turned out to be the dancers.

I needed no more proof that this was righteous, solid music than to see good dancers. Then if I got thrown off listening, I just looked for a good dancer to explain it to me!

I guess … I just wait to see a demo of someone doing this “crossing the clave” with “evident musical purpose”, the way you’d switch to mambo or to depelote or rumba… it’s working with the music, connecting to the music, or it looks like a mistake, oops is all I can think ;-)

 
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Ponchek

Member

14 posts

well i never did on purpose switching from on1 to on5 in couple dancing but looks like some men do it and women follow it (timberamayor at least :-)). btw timbera, i am interested how they did that…? (i know its a pain to describe moves with letters, some not even possible but at least hard description how he/they led you?)

and i agree with you rcurzon, i would like to see demo of it also :-) maybe when i go to cuba. ^^

 
Wilber
rcurzon

Member

9 posts

Yes I did read timberamayor’s comment but I wasn’t mindful of how she stated it, I should put it this way:

TM would you go so far as to say it NEVER feels wrong to be switched from the “1” to the “5” or vice versa? In a couple dance?

I have been fixed… I confess doing that, a 1/5 switch … it’s either a teacher … or a latina usually who will take me in hand.

hint… It’d be nice of someone else reading commented, esp latinas or cubanas…

 
Me
timberamayor

Administrator

26 posts

I think it may feel wrong sometimes depending on the feel of the song. I mean the clave and be 3/2 or 2/3 so it’s really the entire musical phase that makes you feel like one side is the start. Or actually maybe more correct there is only 3/2 clave but a lot of the time it feels 2/3 because the ‘start’ feels like it’s on the 2 side. One of the great clave debates. But anyway, yes sometimes it feels wrong.

I danced with one guy a while back who had me all over the numbers 1,5, 3 ,1 and 5 again. I actually started laughing because I don’t think it was anything about the moves other than him not really having a grip on how to lead casino. He’s obviously a in-line dancer trying to lead casino. But maybe he does the same when he dances in-line. A friend of mine said it was the same when he danced with her so it wasn’t just me. It felt weird to be all over the place. And well I probably won’t refuse to dance with him again he’s not someone I’m going to ask to dance.

I can’t exactly say about switching to the 5. I know there are some moves in one of the Eric Freeman salsaville videos that switch you from the 1 to the 5, but I cna’t tell you how to do them. I should ask him to join the forum when he gets back from his South American vacation.

I know one move that takes a series of 5 consecutive steps and switches you between the 1 and the 3 or the 3 and the 5. It has never felt wrong and considering taht the guy who uses it a lopt always dances on3 it must have switched us to on5.

I don’t know that I’m all that helpful to the discussion actually. But cretainly there are some songs that cross the clave songs by Van Van and Charanga Habanera. So it would be interesting to see if anyone did these types of moves in a rueda to deal with the clave change. But I don’t think that the dancers are analysing that kind of stuff when they do their set routines. I think they are just trying to make up cool moves and aren’t worried about the beat they are on.

I really do see a huge difference in the amount of interest there is in timing discussion among people who learned to dance by counting as opposed to those who didn’t. It’s very interesting.

 
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Ponchek

Member

14 posts

yeah, it really is interesting to see difference between the ones who learned to dance with counting and the ones that learned to dance on feel without understanding counting. both ways are ofc good, to each its own. i learned by counting. but in my experience both ways lack of good aspects of the other. so in the end if you wanna be good dancer you have to get to the middle between those two. dancer who started with counting have to relax and drop dependence of counting to really be free in dance while dancers who learned only by feel need to learn about counting and timing inside songs, analyse it more to get to the level of kick assing in dance :-)
to say more about counting, since i am more on that side. it makes me sad to see a lot of ppl not dancing on music but dancing on counting. honestly, in some moments you could just turn off the music on parties and ppl would still normally continue dancing like nothing happened… XD but that is understandable because of the way how we are all thought in our classes about salsa and how generally we did not grow up in dance/music environment. that is foreign to us, smth we started learning twice a week and not smth we would see every time we go out of house like its in cuba. thats why most of us have to go through that process of transforming of us from the counting to the pure feel.

 
Me
timberamayor

Administrator

26 posts

I think the best way to add “feel” to dancing is to listen to the music. I think that by listening obsessively a dancer will eventually pick-up the feel. After all, that’s the main difference between Cubans and non-Cubans is that they grew up with that music all around them and it’s something we satrted listening to as adults. So the more you can drown yourself under waves of timba, rumba and son the better.

Of course I am a very music-biased person.There are people who dance because they love to dance. they often learn many different dances and the most important thing to them is the dance , the music is a tool.

The there are the people who come from the music side who dance because of what the music inspired them to feel. this is why I just don’t find myself tempted to dance to regular salsa anymore. It’s not that it’s bad music or hard t dance to, it just isn’t inspiring to my feet :-)

 
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Ponchek

Member

14 posts

“It’s not that it’s bad music or hard t dance to, it just isn’t inspiring to my feet :-)”
yeah i second that also. ^^

 
Wilber
rcurzon

Member

9 posts

Although you can find lots of people in this town who can step around “casino style”... almost all of them think of it only as just different steps. Plug in ballroom salsa, or plug in casino to the same music and scene and feel. Plug-compatible ways of dancing.

That is the way dance schools market it of course. There are things that “everybody knows” about cuban dancing that are misleading nonsense… like “the difference with cuban dance is it is circular not slot.”

Which is very friendly to the dance school syllabus way of thinking.

But it ignores the elephant factor of cuban dancing… as it is done today…why it has always been done among the people… not via dance schools, but real social dancing.

it is absolutely, positively, driven by feel of the music… not by the show. It is about the feeling of the dancers “adentro” ... not the display of skill and derring-do for the audience.

Although the feeling of the dance is “inside” the cuban dancers, it is still obvious to see for those who will see it. They aren’t acting their enjoyment… it isn’t a drama, it’s a part of their lives… and very often, an important part.

Not as people might say that here, “I dance 4 nights a week, hours at a time”. As social, as athletic, as involved as that may be, it is still not the point.

Instead it is done for the cathartic, internal, real spiritual effect it has when actually done within real social tradition. At times, not far off the way santeros might get into Yoruba traditional dancing, sensing they are “mounted by the saint”.

But, dance school industry and their students find this uninteresting, and discard it right away without consideration. They “KNOW” it’s about the show, the externals… not the internals.

Missing that, we wind up seeing “cuban style dancing” that is no more interesting to see… nor authentic… than if they were disco dancing… or foxtrot… to salsa beat ;). Which we probably WILL SEE … as the dance industry explores more revenue possibilities ;)

 
Me
timberamayor

Administrator

26 posts

I guess it is related to the extent to which people immerse themselves in Cuban music/culture. I mean I think the people for whom dance comes first would look at it as the steps involved etc, but what I notice here from the people who are seriously into Cuban music/dance is that they have been more than once to Cuba. They learn to dance son, rumba, other Afro-Cuban dances, some cha-cha-cha and mambo. They often learn Spanish and even can sing along in Yoruba (the Cuban version of it of course) with the songs of the Orishas (I can’t do much of that yet).

So I guess what I’m saying is the people who just want to be able to dance a lot of different styles maybe never get really into the roots of the dance which is the music and the culture that it comes from. Whereas the people who are seriously in casino seem to drift deeper and deeper into other aspects of Cuban dance and the related cultural elements.

 
Clave
OLek94

Member

2 posts

Hello, I will probably not ressucite that old thread but I find it interesting.

Many salsa propose clave change at some occasion, as a joke may be. Difficult to dancers to change their feet fast unless they know the music well (the opportunity to place a step dedicated to that) .
That sais I looked clsely at differnt videos of professional Cuban dancers , the ones from ISA la Havane among others. I noticed that even in rueada style , dnacers often “break on 3” , it crossed a recent demonstration given to me about the Timba rythm.
Usually considered as a 3-2 rythm, often with RUmba clave.
My Cuban friend, (musician, plays timba) told me that some way of counting they use, which is “not often understoof by western people” is to count 1-2 - 123 for that 3-2 clave.
Because of a strong accent on the “one” of the second part, played on the big drum (with the foot).

I just wonder if it is only a facility to follow easily the rythm, or if it can be considered as a musical count . In any case it is very well synchronized (taht “inverted” way of counting the clave in Timba) , with the way the rythm is expressed when dancing break on3.

ANy one any idea ? info on that ? have an ear on that http://www.latinpulsemusic.com/albums/show/406 the second example can be counted like that easily…

That is how I feel timba rythm naturally (and not the way it is danced when dancing 123 567, I guess)
Best wishes and happy salsa.

Still searching !...

 
Clave
OLek94

Member

2 posts

BTW, where are you all gone ? on FB ?

All the best (forums are not all very lively those days)

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