Salsa > Spotting technique: head positioning?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by africana, Oct 9, 2005.

  1. africana

    africana New Member

    Ok I just watched and rewatched some videos I took of me dancing this weekend and I must say the spotting doesn't look as sharp as it felt while I was dancing and the spins looked slower (granted I do actually forget to spot sometimes when I'm tired, like halfway through a long song :lol:)

    BUT it looked like my head is tilted to the side, so that during a spin I actually look like I'm a bit slow and not spotting

    Anyways, my question: Does anyone maintain a specific head position to make a spin like more crisp versus more fluid. I like contrasts, so I want to look sharp when the spins are faster, matching staccato beats, but I also want to look like the spins flow together when the music is more flowing, less percussive

    When I intentionally control my spotting on spins it feels like I get the desired effect, but on video is something a little different. Not terrible, just different.
    Free spins seem ok, they look sharp and spotted, but I'm not sure about lead spins, they seem sluggish. A possible solution is that I need to 'snap' or whip the head around to look sharper and faster. Also I keep getting bumped on the head by leaders (who are mostly used to shorter girls) so I probably tilt my head back or to the side to not get hit :?

    I've seen some dancers with head tilted slightly down, and also the head looking atright ahead. I think I've employed those too, I just haven't thought about the differences in speed and effect before

    I'll try to upload and post some videos when I get my conversion hardware to show what I mean
  2. chachachacat

    chachachacat Well-Known Member

    Head weight is a big factor. They say your head weighs as much as a bowling ball. If you are tilted in any direction, it can throw off your spin. I say head straight, aligned with spine.
  3. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    Africana...I think it's just going to take a lot of repetitive practice (and focus) till you start doing it correctly with any regularity.

    What I *try* to do is start my body turning and then snap my head at the last second (sounds painful when I'm reading this).
  4. africana

    africana New Member

    Thanks guys :D will try to concentrate on moving head last (I actually pulled a neck once doing that lol)

    I think part of the tilt is a style I absorbed a while ago, besides trying to protect my head/hair hehe.
    I was watching a famous NY salsera lastnight and she does something similar thing, it's at the end of a set of spins. It feels cool when I've done it in the past, gotten compliments, but I wonder if it slows me down and I don't quite like the look

    I do also get lazy with the spotting sometimes, especially if I don't expect the lead to spin men (i.e. little or no prep). I need to learn to do it without thinking, just like the prepping torso-twist <sigh>
  5. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    Tell me exactly how you spin and not whack your leads with those beautiful braids??? (Just saw your picture in the gallery :)
  6. africana

    africana New Member

    lol for real! I have to use 2 or more scrunges to tie them up and they still come off. at least it gives me rest breaks in the middle of a dance when I tell the guy that I have to stop dancing and re-tie my hair :lol:
  7. Rosa

    Rosa New Member

    Yes, that's what I was taught, and what I try to do, not only when spinning but in every part of my salsa.

    I say "try" because people who've read my posts elsewhere on DF will know that I have a terrible habit of ducking my head when I dance which I'm working hard at overcoming.

    One of my teachers who worked very hard with me on this issue (all credit to her! :applause:) said to me when she saw me dancing with my head held high, "There, doesn't it make you feel like a queen?"

    She was right. It does. :D

    Rosa :)
  8. africana

    africana New Member

    another teacher I know always says "chest up" to maintain balance

    Re speed of spins and how the spotting looks, it's a totally different result when I wear heels. The spins are faster, although control is sometimes an issue since I'm not used to wearing them. Jazz shoes are a bit slower (depending on floor), so spotting loses the sharp, snappy look. I have to use one foot to get faster spins, but response time, to prep or follow into a prep is still slower. but they're more comfortable and make me more accessible to shorter partners
    I would wear heels more and learn to like them, but the problem of being lead in spins when i'm on 2-2.5 inch heels is worse :( they're sexy and fast but I can't stand it when the guy is tippy-toeing to turn me grrrrrr
  9. alemana

    alemana New Member

    i've been working on the head snap too. there is a lot of attention paid to it here and the better follows always have distinctive habits... right now i tend to slow down the snap on the final spin of a multiple-spin combination and kind of more languidly whip it around for emphasis, provided the music tempo allows for it.
  10. Kindra

    Kindra New Member

    Also, keep in mind....generally, things look slower on video. :)
  11. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Well-Known Member

    Ok, my teacher told me this too. Sorry for the dumb question, but why? why does it look slowe?
  12. Kindra

    Kindra New Member

    I would imagine because it's not 3 dimensional and there is probably some delay in any recording. But honestly, I'm not the best person to give a technical answer. :)

    I've never enjoyed watching a performance on video especially after seeing it live.
    I remember showing family members (who couldn't make an event)videos of different competitions or performances...seemed like I was always something to the effect of... "You should have been there! The energy in the place was crazy!, I know it doesn't look THAT exciting....but...". :roll:

  13. Medira

    Medira New Member

    When I'm spotting, I try to keep my spot a bit higher than eye level. That way, I can avoid the trap of "looking down" (or looking like you're looking down) and it doesn't throw off my center. My spot is also usually my partner. The guy I dance with the most is about 4" taller than I am, so I use his nose as a spot. Another guy I dance with on a regular basis is about an inch shorter than me, so I use his hairline as a spot.

    As far as snappiness goes, try holding your spot just a little bit longer before turning your head around. That way, you'll have a little less time to turn your head around at the end of the spin, forcing a bit more speed and more sharpness.
  14. NZ Girl

    NZ Girl New Member

    Where do you find the gallery?
  15. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Yes you are on the right track. We measure speed by contrast. We drive fastrer than we assume we are going in winter during a snow storm because we cannot see that are car is moving past the scenery when everything is whited out. We cannot see the sun moving across the sky but we do see it moving down as it sets against the horizon.

    So we can see three dimensions of contrast in person. But on tv we only see 2 dimmensions of contrast. So our brain is missing a third of info about how fast or slow we are spinning on the video.
  16. africana

    africana New Member

    I hadn't thought of video 'slowing down' things, interesting 8) thanks for explaining that LM & co!

    so far I uploaded 2 clips of some social dancing with spins in them

    I see some things I forget to do like prepping (mostly due to extra footwork or taps)

    analyze away 8)
  17. Big10

    Big10 Member

    For the most part, your spins seemed to be fine. You seemed to be spinning at the rate that you were being led, and also in time with the music.

    I did notice that things appeared to go smoother/cleaner in the clip with the taller leader, and I don't know how much of that was a function of his height (or his experience) when compared to the shorter leader in the other clip.

    Also, there were a couple of times when your feet started to get further apart during a multiple spin, which may have made it difficult to execute the "paddling" style of spinning. I noticed that happening only once near the end of the clip with the taller leader, but a few times in the clip with the shorter leader. I think at least once (or more), though, the shorter leader's spinning technique seemed to be a little off, which may have thrown you off-balance first, so that you opened your feet simply to maintain your balance and keep from falling. If you are constantly worrying about your balance (particularly with shorter leaders), then I can imagine it would be difficult to concentrate on your feet and your head positioning at the same time.
  18. africana

    africana New Member

    you are awesome big10 :D

    Yes the lead height makes some difference in both my mental comfort level but also in my ability to respond.

    Another issue is those darned flat shoes. they're comfortable and fairly versatile but because I'm not always on the balls of my feet, it takes a conscious and good prep to make a spin look the way it should look (i.e. less paddling). I'm usually adding syncopations with foot taps and/or body movement which feel better and more grounded when feet are flat. So to switch from that (or when I think I have time to play :roll: ) right into multiple spins tsk tsk I have to play catch up with paddling

    Also with the shorter guy, I think released the tension in my arm/shoulder too early in anticipation that he wasn't going to spin more than a couple :p and then tightened too much (which is instinctive but never works) so I traveled right into him.

    But actually i'd say he's my favorite spinner, mostly cos I don't have much time or warning to prep but somehow it still feels safe 8)

    I haven't been going out much but want to work on this
  19. SalseraLaura

    SalseraLaura New Member

    2 things..

    1 does anyone else find it hard to spot when the guy is moving around? For some reason it throws me off like if i do multiple spins and hes moving side to side or soemthing i feel i cant come back to the same place cos hes not in the same

    2 after watching the clips and this is a bt of a threadjack, does it bother anyone else when there are 2 congas playing, i find the 2 contrasting rhythms really annoying, the only time ive been in a club where they do that is in NY and its not annoying during the main part of the song but 2 conga solos i find irritating...maybe im just

    btw your spotting looks fine, it varies from guy to guy who you spin better with, just keep practicing at home without a man and it will eventually make a difference when spinning with a man. its much easier to do what you want when youre in control
  20. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    hmm...I need to get better with my spinning... :(

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