Who Do You Dance With? Learning from every dance

The more dancers we see develop their skills, the more we’ve been noticing a pattern: a lot of dancers tend to stick to dancing with partners around their same level. While this might seem like a natural progression, it can make for a segmented dance community, and it also limits not just your social circle, but also your ability to learn.

I believe we can all learn something from every person we dance with, regardless of their relative level. Dancing with someone more advanced challenges you to get better. Dancing with someone around the same level and whom you know well lets you enjoy the comfort of a familiar dance. Dancing with someone less experienced tests your leading/following and makes you more adaptable. I’m a firm believer in making sure every social dance night has a bit of all 3.

Challenge Yourself
No doubt about it: dancing with someone who is (or who you THINK is) a better dancer than you can be intimidating. “What if he tries to make me do some crazy move I can’t follow?” “What if she gets bored after 20 seconds?”. We’ve all been there, and it’s not an easy thing to deal with, but once you break that barrier, you’ll be amazed by how quickly you will progress.

DO:
Ask more advanced dancers to dance
. I don’t care that you just learned how to do one turn and they’re spinning like a top. There are no prerequisites to asking someone to dance.

Try your best. No one learned to dance overnight, and even if your moves are limited, the effort to do them as well as you can will be appreciated.
Smile and have fun. So long as you’re pleasant to dance with, no one will care that you’re not nailing quintuple spins.

DON’T:
Apologize for small mistakes
. Odds are, most of your mistakes will go unnoticed. And if your partner does notice, they will likely instantly forget it; apologizing for a small mistake will make them dwell on it far more than they might otherwise. A smile is usually the best way to say “oops, sorry” and move on.

(That being said, if you step on your partner’s foot, swing them into someone else, or otherwise hurt them, then apologize like your life depends on it. And this applies to dancers of all levels).

 

Dance with a Beginner
Once you get past “beginner” status, it’s easy to stick to dancing with people you already know. All of a sudden we forget our first few dance outings when everyone seemed to know each other and we felt like the odd ones out.

Asking beginners to dance will not only make their night, it will put your leading/following to the test as well. It tests your ability to adapt, and to find pleasure in the basics again.

DO:
Ask beginners to dance
. They might get the deer-in-the-headlights look, but be nice and accommodating and they’ll thank you for it.

Adapt to their level. Every dancer can tell what their partner’s skill level is, in the first few moves. Adapt to their level, make them comfortable, and challenge them little by little.
Smile and have fun. As a beginner, I was terrified that everyone I dance with will have a lousy time – a little encouragement goes a long way!

DON’T:
Turn down a beginner who’s asking you to dance
. You are never “too good” to dance with beginners.

Coach them on the dance floor. Class is for learning, social dancing is for fun. Even teachers refrain from coaching their students out at socials. Unless you are specifically asked for help, keep it to yourself.

Comfort Dancing
Once we’ve been dancing for a while, we all have our preferred partners – the ones we’ve danced with a hundred times, whose moves we know well, who lead/follow the way we like to be led/followed, and with whom we always have a great time. These are often your best dances of the night, the people you run to every time you see them out dancing, and the ones you look forward to seeing whenever you go out.

DO:
Cultivate those relationships
. Dancing with someone you’re comfortable with is a guaranteed great time – make sure those people know you appreciate them!

Experiment. A partner you know well and are comfortable with is a great partner for experimentation – try out the move that you just learned, or some new styling, and make sure they’re comfortable to do the same.

DON’T:
Make them your only dances of the night. It’s tempting to stay in that comfort zone. It’s nice there! But if everyone did the same, we’d run out of dance partners in a hurry, and we’d have a very, very fragmented dance scene.

How many people do you typically dance with when you go out? Do you go out of your way to dance with different people, or do you stick to the same crowd? Let us know in the comments!

New videos, new classes, and summer fun!

Azucar! News – Week of August 12

This weekend, your teachers were in the studio, dancing in front of cameras. We decided it was high time we had some promo videos to show the world who we are and what we do. The first two are done and edited (and posted below), with more to follow! This is our first videography effort, so let us know what you think!

Salsa at Azúcar! Latin Dance Company

Dancehall Funk at Azúcar! Latin Dance Company

Summer Classes
We might be technically on summer break, but summer school at Azúcar! doesn’t mean catching up on your math – it’s a chance to try something new and fresh!

Summer class web
Intro to Salsa  – Summer Bootcamp
If you’re brand new to salsa and were worried there would be no beginner classes before the fall, you’re in luck! A condensed summer course is starting next week! In just 6 classes over 3 weeks you will learn the basic steps and partnering skills that are essential to salsa. We started yesterday, but we are still accepting new students this Thursday, so come on over!

Class times: Mondays and Thursdays, 5.30 – 6.30pm
Class dates: August 12 to August 29 (6 classes)
Instructors: Jeff and Emilie
Price: $70/person

Afro urban web banner
Afro Urban Dance Workshop – Drop-ins welcome!
Explore a dynamic fusion of soulful African and urban movement. You will experience high energy choreography inspired by the hottest dances of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Develop and refine your rhythmic and freestyle expression in a lively and fun environment. Sizzling rhythms will energize and transport you to the tropics! This is a drop-in friendly course, so come try a class!

Class times: Thursdays, 6.30 – 7.30pm
Class dates: August 8 to August 29 (4 classes)
Instructor: Natalie
Price: $50/person for the full course or $17/class

styling class web banner
Ladies’ Salsa Styling – Drop-ins welcome!
Develop technique to increase self-expression, musicality, elegance and finesse.  The focus is on shines, body movement, spins, body isolations and hand styling. Learn how to add flavour to your dancing to shine on the dance floor!

Class times: Tuesdays, 6.00 – 7.00pm
Class dates: ends on August 27
Instructors: Emilie
Price: Drop-ins welcome! Payable by Azucar! class cards or at the drop-in rate of $17/class.

OSCH banner3 more weeks of Salsa at City Hall!
Last week, we were back indoors with 2 workshops, 3 shows, and lots of social dancing! This week, we’re indoors once again – Craft Beer Week is taking up the Rink of Dreams, so come check out the brewers (please drink responsibly) and duck inside for some dancing! Ana and Jeff will teach a salsa workshop, DJs Abby and Chris are providing the music, and there will be yummy snacks from Royi Fruta Bar and Mr. Churritos! Bonus: we will have a hot dance show by Churun Meru once again!! Like the event’s Facebook page for all the details!

Connect with us!
On Twitter: @AzucarOttawa
On Instagram: @AzucarOttawa
On Facebook: /AzucarOttawa

smakk logoAzúcar! gift cards available on SMAKK.ca!
Give your loved ones the gift of dance – send them an Azúcar! gift card from SMAKK.ca. Click, order, and have the card send directly to them, electronically or by mail!

This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.

New summer classes coming to Azúcar!

Azucar! News – Week of August 5

This is the last week of our regular summer class session; however we have two brand-new classes starting in the next week, to tide you over the month of August and get you in great shape for the Fall!

Summer class web
Intro to Salsa  – Summer Bootcamp
If you’re brand new to salsa and were worried there would be no beginner classes before the fall, you’re in luck! A condensed summer course is starting next week! In just 6 classes over 3 weeks you will learn the basic steps and partnering skills that are essential to salsa.

Class times: Mondays and Thursdays, 5.30 – 6.30pm
Class dates: August 12 to August 29 (6 classes)
Instructors: Jeff and Emilie
Price: $70/person

We need 7 registrations to run this class, so if you are interested, pre-register today by emailing us at info@azucarottawa.com!

Afro urban web banner
Afro Urban Dance Workshop
Explore a dynamic fusion of soulful African and urban movement. You will experience high energy choreography inspired by the hottest dances of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Develop and refine your rhythmic and freestyle expression in a lively and fun environment. Sizzling rhythms will energize and transport you to the tropics!

Class times: Thursdays, 6.30 – 7.30pm
Class dates: August 8 to August 29 (4 classes)
Instructor: Natalie
Price: $50/person

Pre-register today by emailing us at info@azucarottawa.com, or come to the studio for your first class!

styling class web banner
Ladies’ Salsa Styling – Drop-ins welcome!
Develop technique to increase self-expression, musicality, elegance and finesse.  The focus is on shines, body movement, spins, body isolations and hand styling. Learn how to add flavour to your dancing to shine on the dance floor!

Class times: Tuesdays, 6.00 – 7.00pm
Class dates: ends on August 27
Instructors: Emilie
Price: Drop-ins welcome! Payable by Azucar! class cards or at the drop-in rate of $17/class.

No need to register – just drop in for your weekly dose of styling!

OSCH bannerSalsa at City Hall continues!
Last week, our second outdoor party saw the biggest Outdoor Salsa turnout so far! This week, we’re waiting to see what the weather is like, but it’s likely we’ll be fleeing indoors to escape the rain. But the fun continues, even indoors: GoSalsa will teach a salsa workshop, DJs Humberto and dVo are providing the music, and there will be yummy snacks from Royi Fruta Bar and Mr. Churritos! Bonus: we will have 3 hot dance shows: two by local Peruvian dance groups Peru Danza and Contigo Peru, and one by Azucar!’s very own Natalie Gelman!! Like the event’s Facebook page for all the details!

Connect with us!
On Twitter: @AzucarOttawa
On Instagram: @AzucarOttawa
On Facebook: /AzucarOttawa

smakk logoAzúcar! gift cards available on SMAKK.com!
Give your loved ones the gift of dance – send them an Azúcar! gift card from SMAKK.com. Click, order, and have the card send directly to them, electronically or by mail!

This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.

Improve your dancing using your smartphone

by Jeff Huang

Thanks to improvement in portable technology, an estimated 47% of Canadians today are carrying smartphones. Having a mini-computer with you can be great for salsa dancing, because it provides you with a powerful resource wherever you go. Here’s how your smartphone can improve your dancing:

As a music player
The most obvious, and a very common use for smartphone nowadays is a mp3 player replacement. Listening to music plays an important role in developing musicality, understanding the beat, and getting used to the salsa rhythm. Plus, who doesn’t love some fun Latin music to liven up their day?! So get some salsa tunes on your phone – for practice AND enjoyment.

As a music finder
Apps such as SoundhoundShazam, and Spotsearch are all popular programs for dancers to find songs during congresses and social events. Like what the DJ is playing? Just open the app of your choice, record a snippet of the music, and it will identify the title of the song, the artist, and the album. Some of the more full-featured apps can even provide lyrics in time with the music, or recognize songs by you singing or humming the tune! (Disclaimer: this function really depends on how good your humming is). I personally have found many great songs this way, and have been introduced to many amazing new artists as well.

As a rhythm/timing device
There are a number of apps that help develop musicality and rhythm for dancers. The best-known one is Salsa Rhythm, which is a port of the popular web app Salsa Beat Machine. It is a great learning tool for mastering salsa timing and instrument identification, letting you to fiddle with instruments commonly used in salsa music to become familiar with how they sound. You can use it to practice your timing On-1 and On-2!

As a video recorder
Most dancers will tell you that the best way to improve your dancing is to see yourself dancing – either in a mirror or on video. Countless times I have cringed after seeing myself on video, and it made be practice even harder to be a better dancer. Since most smartphones nowadays come with a video recording function, take full advantage of it! Set your phone up and record yourself dancing (or ask someone to do it for you). It will make you immediately aware of your bad habits, and make you swear up and down to change them as soon as you can. Because hey, we all want to look good right?

Has your phone helped your dancing? Leave a comment, and tell us how!