Salsa > When to straighten/bend legs, and weight transfer

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by cutie_pie81, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. cutie_pie81

    cutie_pie81 New Member

    Hey everyone,

    I have a questions that I dont think has been asked many times, well to be honest I didnt check :roll:

    OK so at the workshops this weekend (at the Toronto Congress), Josie was teaching us how to move our legs so our hips would move the cuban way.

    The way I do it is this:

    1: step back with right leg where its straightened and my weight is on it; left leg in place bent......... right hip out
    2: straighten left leg where weight is now on it; right leg bent ........... left hip out
    3: both legs in the middle right leg right leg straight; left leg bent.........right hip out

    5: step forward with the left leg where its straightened and my weight shifts on it; right leg bent...........left hip out
    6: straighten right leg and transfer weight on it; left leg bent........... right hip out
    7: both legs (and feet) together left leg straight, right leg bent............. left hip out

    BUT Josie said to get that cuban motion, we should do the reverse, for instance
    1: Step back with right leg, weight on it, and bent; left leg straight....
    2: Now bend left leg and weight is on it; right leg straight
    3: Feet together (not really sure which leg is bent)

    4: step forward with left leg, bent, weight on it; right leg straight
    5: now bend right leg, weight on it; left leg straight
    6: Feet together

    I didnt get it at all, I couldnt naturally let my body flow that way :(, and had NO idea which direction my hips were to move. Can anybody shed some light on this topic?

    Now I dont really completely straighten my legs, they're always slightly bent, but I'm implying it so you see which leg is bent.
  2. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    This is one of my favorite latin motion instructives:
  3. africana

    africana New Member

    :shock: that's a really long description, very ballroom-ish. I think Liz Lira teaches similar

    I think the general emphasis should be on moving the knees and changing weight on each ball rather than just moving the hips

    one of those topics I'd rather demo than describe since i didn't learned it from scratch
  4. lynn

    lynn New Member

    um....a wild guess, i know in latin we step with a straight leg and in rhythm with a bent leg.....does that mean anything to anybody??
  5. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Yeah the first description (hip motion as you understand it) sounds more natural to me. Not sure about the second.... it sounds a little weird.
  6. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    My instructor is now teaching the straight-leg method for rhythm (other than swing). She says that a lot of American-style rhythm performers are going this way. I personally find that the straight-leg method feels more "natural", in that if I do it properly, a reasonable Cuban motion results, without my having to consciously think about it.
  7. yola

    yola New Member

    We teach the same as Josie. it takes a lot of getting used to in the beginning, because we 'westerners' aren't taught to dancing/moving this way. But the result is a much more natural movement, were you don't so use your hips, but use the bending and straightening of the legs... and the hips motion comes naturally from that. it's the more 'african/cuban' way of dancing salsa, feels like dancing connected to the earth, in stead of dancing way up 'in the clouds' as we are used to.

    You dance 'grounded'.

    This difference in the way your cuban motion is executed is, i think, one of the differences between 'streetstyle' salsa and ballroomsalsa.
    the way you are used to do your hipmotion, is ballroomish. i see a lot of people dancing that way. to me it doesn't look natural, but like a gring@ who took some salsalessons and now thinks she can salsa.... (no offence, it's often the teachers fault for not teaching technique/basics, but moving on to patterns right from the beginning).

    The hipmotion should (imo) not be consciously created, but come natural from the way you use your legs.

    try standing on both legs, feet a bit apart, and bending 1 knee. Keep your weight above the bent leg. now transfer the weight to the other leg, bending it, and straightening the former. do that a couple of times. now walk small steps while transferring your weight (keep your feet apart for the moment!). Make sure you're still getting your weight on the bent leg.
    Now, while taking small steps, slowly with each step move your feet closer together.....
    Now try the same to the side, and finally (the most difficult) to the back.

    While using this technique, you can only do small steps (takes care of the 'bumping against others as well), keeping your weight above your feet at all times.

    Hips: the action is more up and down than side to side. when stepping on your bent leg, that side goes down, the other up and slightly out. but dont try to push it that way! it should come naturally from banding your leg and putting your weight on it. (step left, right hip is up and slightly out)

    btw: see
    a lót of postings about hipmotion!!!
  8. diputs

    diputs New Member

    What Yola described is exactly what we are focusing on right now in my class. It is a beginner level styling and rhythm class.

    This is also how it is taught in the cuban motion class at my studio.
  9. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    With both of the methods she described the legs straighten and bend, which causes the hip motion. Can you explain the difference between the two methods?
  10. lynn

    lynn New Member

    From what I've seen, the dancers who use the second methods have a more exaggerated hip motion than the first - I'm not sure if this is the result of bending/straightening or simply the dancers' personal styling.
  11. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    When I first started to learn how to dance, the instructor taught the second method, and I had a lot of trouble with it. We moved since then and the instructors we've had after that have all taught the first method, and it comes more natural to me.
  12. lynn

    lynn New Member

    it's the same with me as well, but since i've never really learned how to do the first method, i can only comment from my observations....
  13. dTas

    dTas New Member

    cuban motion is always a HUGE topic. everyone has their own way of explaining it and doing it.

    so here's my version...

    1) all body movement should be natural and believe it or not cuban motion is natural.

    2) all body movement should help keep the body in balance over the standing leg.

    3) the body wants to be in a "neutral" position. this is the only time the body can be at rest. any motion away from "neutal" should be a conflict within the body. VERY IMPORTANT!

    what is "neutral"? standing, feet together, toes pointed out, knees flexed, hips tucked, abs in, lower back out, shoulders down, head up... aka good dance posture.

    4) cuban motion is defined by the difference between your sholders and your hips. if they are not aligned then you have some sort of cuban motion. if they are lined up then you have none.

    5) cuban motion is a rotation of the hips around the spine, not pushing the hips out to the side.

    6) the simplified sequence is "rotate hips, step and shift weight, stand up on new supporting foot" (rotate, shift, stand). NOT "shift, stand, rotate" (or often called "settle" instead of "rotate").

    first you rotate your hips then shift your weight then stand up straight on the supporting foot. be very careful to only stand up straight and not rotate the hips or push them out to the side when standing up. each step begins with the rotation and ends with standing straight. VERY IMPORTANT.

    now... there are a lot of extras that can be added; body isolation of the rib cage, dancing the back, raising one hip or the other, knee bend/straight, digging the feet... etc etc

    more on part 3: the body wants to be in neutral. this is the only resting point. if you stand in neutral and rotate (twist) your hips your body should be in conflict with itself and want to return back to neutral.

    if you twist your hips and can comfortably stay there then something is not working. it should take work to twist your hips. your body should be fighting to return to the neutral position. its like when you twist a rubber band, the rubber band wants to "untwist". your body should want to do that same. if you simply turn your hips then you do not have any "power" in your action and it looks "static".

    all dancing is action and movement. if you are at rest then you are not dancing! so if you do your cuban motion and you stop on one of your feet and something is not "at work" to keep you there then you're at rest and you've stopped dancing.

    it should even take work to stand at neutral, but this is the least amount of work you will ever use when dancing. to stand straight should take MORE WORK, to twist your body should take EVEN MORE WORK, to shift your weight should take EVEN MORE WORK.

    and eventhough your core and legs are working your upperbody should be tone but soft and flowing.
  14. dTas

    dTas New Member

    this should be able to be applied to whatever style dancing you are doing. if you want to have cuban motion that is.

    a note on the "body never being at rest" part... this applies as long as you are moving. if you are creating a line or a pose then there are times that the body can be in a restful state to create the appearance of "non-movement".
  15. lynn

    lynn New Member

    dTas, in latin, i was told that when i bend my leg, the hip will rotate automatically so it kind of goes - bending leg, rotating, stepping on, weight shift, does that sound right??
  16. dTas

    dTas New Member

    yes, that does sound right... but...

    in general... all movement should come from the core of the body so if your knees are creating your cuban motion then your movement is not coming from your core.

    concentrating on bending the knees is a great way to "emulate" the cuban motion and get the body into the "proper" position but it is not how it should be danced. you lost the power of cuban motion if you let your knees dictation the action.

    your knees should flex and bend because the hips are rotating.

    i sometimes focus on the knee bend when i teach to help get the student to understand that the knee and the hip are connected and to move the hip is as easy as bending your knee. some students make it seem so difficult.
  17. africana

    africana New Member

    for street salsa I wouldn't recommend "cuban motion"

    too big
  18. lynn

    lynn New Member

    OK, i'm hijacking the thread a little bit, can you explain how the cuban motion works in a cha cha basic? This is how i'm taught:

    Starting on beat 4 with left foot
    4&1 - let's skip this one first
    rock step: when I'm closing my right leg to my left, my knees are bent and as the movement changes to a backward rock step, it will feel like my right hip is moving back because my right foot is moving backward - yes, i know it's confusing, i absolutely suck when it comes to explaining individual movement....
    side chasse - straight leg, so maybe no hip movement??

    make any sense?
  19. lynn

    lynn New Member

    is it b/c the music is too fast??
  20. alemana

    alemana New Member

    there is ballroom cuban motion and club salsa cuban motion. the two belong in their respective worlds. yes, ballroom is much bigger, more stylized.

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