Thursday, September 18, 2014

Salsa Concepts: Reverse Cross Body Lead

For some reason, most of the basic (travelling) Salsa concepts favour movement from a single direction. The lady’s left and man’s right -- the movement for either gender may not necessarily be co-related.

I believe it is important for beginners to explore movement from either side of the ‘line’ of dancing; especially men. Women do get the opportunity to travel / turn across both sides, but generally movement for men remains lop-sided. Consciously creating patterns from either side can help men add at least 30% more variation to their partner-work and make them a lot more unpredictable (hopefully).

There isn’t any content available on the internet -- either via videos or literature -- on the Reverse Cross Body Lead (RCBL). Even in the classroom, most instructors don’t specifically focus on the RCBL, unless it is built into a pattern.

Here is an attempt to fundamentally break down the footwork for the RCBL. Rather than keeping the footwork (for men) as a mirror image to the Cross Body Lead (CBL), a variation has been attempted by yours truly.

How to:
For simplicity of understanding and execution, the RCBL is almost a mirror image of the CBL.

Women’s Footwork:
(1,2,3): Regular back basic
5: Step forward with left foot
6: Step forward with right foot
7: Pivot 180 degrees over the right shoulder and end with left foot next to the right

Men’s Footwork:
1: Step with left towards the lady (regular step)
2: Right foot shifts out to the left side (behind the left leg or even surpassing it as the case may be)
3: Left foot moves next to right. Ensure  you continue to face the lady; however, the frame / feet do not create any obstruction for the lady
5: Step back with the right foot (tagging the lady for the RCBL lead)
6: Shift the left foot (to the right) and attempt to get the feet back in to the line of dancing
7: Pivot 180 degrees on the left foot as you slide the right foot back (right foot finishes next to left)

This variation in footwork for men helps create a different angle for the lead (less predictability), makes the movement sharper (adds finesse), and assists in adding more push / pull variations (integrates concepts better).

There isn’t much to tinker around with the women’s footwork, considering the lead serves as a means to an end (execution).

Monday, September 8, 2014

Salsa Concepts: Cross Body Turn

The Cross Body Turn (CBT) or Cross Body lead with an inside turn is an extension of the CBL (Blog Post). The lady executes a travelling turn to the left (counter-clockwise) as the man leads her through his CBL footwork.

How to:

In terms of execution the CBT is relatively more challenging for the women as it builds upon the CBL, however for men the footwork remains the same as CBL (opportunity to bring in finesse).

Attached image helps visually understand the footwork for men and women.

Women’s Footwork:
(1,2,3): regular back basic
5: lady steps forward with left foot
6: a 90’ pivot to the left with the right foot
7: a 180’ pivot to the left (over the back) with the left foot
1: a 270’ pivot to the left (from the front) with the right foot landing back.

Ensure the momentum for the turn is generated on count 5 and just allow the body to follow through the rest of the counts.
Ensure the left foot steps straight on count 5 (extremely important to ensure the linearity of the execution)
Counts 6 and 7 are progressive steps. Ensure that the free (of weight) foot pivots with the travelling foot
Cut through the turn with the right foot (rather than swinging it across) to merge with the back basic on count 1 of the next bar of music.

Men’s Footwork:
Remains the same as CBL

Lead / Pointers: Connection- Men’s L to Lady’s R (lead remains the same irrespective of the connection)

Raise the hand up to the lady’s shoulder level by count 3 to clearly distinguish between a CBL and a CBT
A short forward tag on count 5 so that the lady starts crossing over to the other side.
Directional nudge to the lady’s left on count 6 (her left) to initiate the CBT. Allow for the fingers to roll with the connection, rather than using the entire arm to lead. Making the lead smoother and not imposing on the followers movement. Keep elbows relaxed.
Try and ensure the lady’s upper arm remain parallel to the floor while leading and the radius of the lead remains close to the lady’s head so that the distance covered by the lady while turning is minimal.
Follow through with the connection on count 7 as you gradually start bring hand back down at the waist level.