Salsa Connection/ Telling Your Story.

13 Sep

I’ve enjoyed reading Sam and Jenny’s 11-part series on Salsa Connection », from their blog, Salsa-Challenge ». In part 11 » of this series, Jenny writes:

… The two partners creating the salsa connection are indeed separate people, individual dancers, yet, in their dancing, in their creating a salsa connection, they are also one, that is, a connected flowing unified entity. They are two, yet one; one, yet two …

Existentialism and the Salsa Connection -- Part 11 of 11, Par. 4

I like this description of salsa connection, this visualization of two dancers unified, dancing as one body. Not dancing at each other. Not dancing despite each other. Dancing together. I have often reflected on the salsa shapes that two connected bodies make in space, how shapes form and unform, how space fills and unfills. It makes me think of circles again. Here is another good source of articles about connection », by Karin Norgard ».

I’d like to extend this thought of connection, with another: “telling your story.” Dance is a form of communication, a medium to convey thoughts and feelings. The lyrics in a song may tell a story. A song without lyrics may suggest a story. Two dancers unified, together, may interpret a song, to tell a story. A salsa gigolo, by his lead, may tell a story to a salsera. A salsera, by her follow, may tell a story to a salsa gigolo. The more I dance, the more I feel like I am really dancing, and the less need I feel to verbalize my story. I feel I am sharing bits of my story with every dance.

Perhaps this is just part of being a salsa gigolo, where relationships are more superficial than ‘ficial, and dancefloor connection becomes a substitute for non-dancefloor connection. Connection on the dancefloor doesn’t necessarily translate to connection off the dancefloor. I wonder why this is? But it has occurred to me that it has been a long time since I’ve told anyone my story, verbally. You know, boy meets girl, boy and girl find a quiet place to sit and talk, boy and girl tell each other their stories, revealing themselves to be vulnerable, etc. Why talk when you can dance?

Perhaps dancefloor storytelling has become a substitute for non-dancefloor storytelling, a way to express one’s vulnerabilities without having to say a word, at least when the connection is really good. Curious about the structure of dance, the language of dance, I found this listing from the Saskatchewan Education » website, on the (5) elements of dance »:
1. actions
2. the body
3. dynamics
4. relationships
5. space

The site also lists the (7) principles of dance composition »:
1. climax and resolution
2. contrast
3. repetition
4. sequencing and development
5. transition
6. unity
7. variety

Where there is expression/ communication, there is the potential for misinterpretation/ miscommunication. The use of language has the potential to enrich and nurture. It also has the potential to confuse and hurt. If, more and more, dance becomes my language of choice, I wonder how hard it will be to connect with someone who can’t or won’t speak this language?

I’ve watched this clip about 20-30 times, since yesterday:I could listen to her dance, for hours.
Salsa Gigolometer 80

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6 Responses to “Salsa Connection/ Telling Your Story.”

  1. Sam September 13, 2008 at 3:35 pm #

    Modern dance is great – I took a few lessons myself, lot of fun even for an old guy like me 😉
    Still, do you really feel her moves complement the music well?

  2. salsagigolo September 14, 2008 at 12:58 am #

    Do I think her dance elements and dance composition complement the music?

    For me, yes, and then some.

    Yes: I really enjoyed everything about her dance. I also enjoyed her words before the dance, and the judges’ words after the dance. For me, this clip, from beginning to end, summarizes what dance is all about, and what is often missing in salsa.

    Then some: I loved her syncopated arm movements at the beginning, and syncopated footwork at the end. I loved her full arm and leg extensions, especially at the end. I loved her transition from sensuous woman, to playful girl, to rocker chick, to striving woman, like she was telling her own personal story, layered on top of the song’s lyrics, which then made me think about my own story. I loved the way, at the beginning, she danced with her body, while standing in one place, as if to say, “if I can’t dance without moving my feet, then I’d better learn steps”.

    For me, all her moves worked. If there was any dissonance between her moves and the music, my guess is that it was deliberate, as if to say, “give me a move, any move, and I will interpret this music with this move”.

    Dance like hers, makes me question the validity of my salsa style. Is it any good? It’s a work in progress.

  3. Sam September 14, 2008 at 5:28 pm #

    About her moves, she is a perfect dancer (even though I like the fluidity of the Limon modern dance style better than her edgy moves).

    There is only one thing that does not fit for me: music and lyrics are rather sad, but she is dancing full of joy and glee – for me this does not add up.

  4. salsagigolo September 14, 2008 at 8:11 pm #

    I had to watch the music video again:

    For me, the song is about the joy/ pain/ angst of finding someone who is perfect for you, and this is the way I thought she was interpreting the song. But then listening again, and watching the music video, the song could also be about losing someone who was perfect for you.

    The Grey’s Anatomy video version starts off depressing, then gets maudlin, then ends hopeful:

    The GM car commercial version is reflective and hopeful, I think:

    Now, watching the dance clip again, I’m not sure which way the dancer is interpreting the song. Finding someone or losing someone. I am leaning towards finding someone. The rocker chick part, at about 0:30-0:32, coincides with an angst-ridden part of the song, but for me, this works, because it is part of a montage of the dancer’s story playing out. Some scenes are happy/ joyful, some scenes are pensive/ reflective. It’s a nice montage.

    I think I’m up to about 50-60 viewings of this clip now, and I’m starting to forget what salsa sounds like :).

    Funny, when I dance to salsa romantica/ salsa sensual, I usually choose to dance with the feeling that I’ve lost someone, or that I’m about to lose someone.

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