March 21, 2011

Salsa footwork course

So last Thursday I went to check out a salsa footwork course, taught by the inimitable Sharon Pakir, director of Spin City Dance. It is being held every week at the SCD studio, and cost me AU$18 to do it casually (they also offer a discounted price if you sign up to do the full 8 weeks). I decided to just try the one class, as I have never done any of the classes offered by SCD, so wasn't entirely sure that I'd like their teaching style/content etc.

Description from the Facebook event page:
In this course, Sharon will focus on your understanding of intricacies of turns and spins in social dancing, from single turns to multiple travelling turns. She will also break down the WHY's in FOLLOWING in SALSA, giving you an awareness of how foot placement and position can transform you from a good dancer to a GREAT dancer.

Using her knowledge as a competent LEAD on the dancefloor, Sharon will also help you understand the secrets that make the top FEMALE DANCERS around the world, great follows, and how you can, with simple alterations to your technique, feel smoother and lighter to dance with.

FINALLY, Sharon will break down how to SPEED up your footwork and body movement, making you lightning fast all on your own so you aren't DEPENDENT on your dance partner for balance or momentum!

Including great drills that you can take home and practice, understanding of timing and rhythm in your footwork, how to translate your footwork movement into the rest of your body, how to attain balance and speed, and best of all, exercises to strengthen the core muscles you use in salsa dancing!

This course is perfect for ANY LADY WHO DANCES SALSA.

IMPROVER level ladies wanting to understand better their fundamental footwork.
INTERMEDIATE ladies who need that added boost to follow more complex turn patterns.
ADVANCED ladies who need this course to take their dancing to the next level.

THIS COURSE covers what Sharon usually only covers with the PRO TEAM training sessions, so don't miss it!

I actually missed out on the first week (which was the week before last), but I think it was okay, I didn't feel like I had missed out on a whole lot. That said, last weeks class left me with a lot to think about - I have a lot of bad habits! >_<

What was covered:
- Posture. This is actually something I noticed and have tried to emulate, just from watching videos of Sharon, and from watching other really amazing dancers on the social scene. Basically, from side on, your profile should resemble an 'S' curve.
Key points: bent knees, raised heels - the 'suspension', as such, comes from your knees, not your feet. And also, most importantly for me, press down on the pelvis to get that bottom out! This last is really hard for me, because I used to do ballet as a kid, and the one and only thing that stuck, was to keep that bottom tucked under! I do this, even when I'm just standing around, normally! So that's one habit I'll have to break somehow.

- Drills. I'm not going to describe them, mostly because it's hard to do so, and I'll never be sure that I'm providing an accurate description. I found them quite challenging, in particular the ones that focused on footwork for cross body turns. We mainly covered cross body turns to the right (I think left is going to be on the menu this week), and I'm quite disturbed to realise that I actually do not know the footwork at all! I think I've just been spinning my way through them when dancing socially. Although I'm not sure that this is completely my fault, I've really only done lessons in Cuban style salsa, not L.A., and can't recall right cross body turns coming up that much, if at all. Certainly the term itself was never thrown around.
Balance is definitely an issue for me, I have trouble balancing on one foot and standing still, let alone do that whilst turning. It has to do with where I place my weight on my foot. I've also realised that I generate my momentum for spins and turns from my shoulders and arms which doesn't help! I think it shifts my center too high, and thus I'm more likely to wobble and fall over in a spin. I need to shift the focus lower, and lead spins with my hips rather than arms.

I think this course is going to be well worth its price, definitely going to the rest of the classes. Not only is it helping me pinpoint the areas that I need to work on, but it's also providing me ways to do it. I'm probably going to be doing some drills down the lab corridor tomorrow lol.
Phew! This turned out to be a longer post than I expected.

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