giving advice to your dance partner

Question

I would like some tips on giving my partner advice in a way that is less likely to offend them or make them defensive.
I would only give feedback/ideas in class, not on the social floor.

Maybe you can share ways you like to be given ideas/feedback about yourself as a partner.

I’m a leader and I am learning to follow to so this post is directed towards leaders and followers.

Answers

User enetheru

Unless explicitly solicited.. don’t.

It’s a really really arrogant thing to do, and I don’t mean that in an emotional sense, but in a purely technical sense. Your partner is learning at their own pace in their own way, for you to provide unsolicited advice to them assumes that they are in any way receptive at that moment to hear it.. which is rarely the case as their world is focused on learning the moves for themselves and any external thing is an interruption.

The roles of authority cannot be so easily shifted between peers, and assuming authority on a subject usually draws the ire of whoever you assume it over. Defensiveness is simply the expression of not accepting your authority on a subject, and so they shouldn’t.

If they explicitly ask you, then its a maybe… how sure can you be about a subject you’ve only been at for ten months. you might well get to express yourself this time, but depending on what you say they might never ask again. so again assuming authority after an initial OK is also bad.

Instead, lead by example, provide the safe environment that they feel comfortable asking questions and testing the waters by doing just that yourself.. Ask your partner how something feels, is there anything you can do to make the dance better, put yourself in a position of accepting their authority, and you build a peer who will collaborate with you.

Randomly giving unsolicited advice is the height of arrogance.

User projektako

Better is always to ask your teacher. If they are good, they can observe and spot where either of you are going wrong.
As stated, people that give critiques may think they are informed enough to give good feedback… But often, it’s not the case. Conversely, even if you’re as an instructor, sometimes the person you’re giving advice to may not be at the level necessary to understand that advice.

User edach2he

You can always frame it from your perspective. By doing so you are shifting the focus to you and mitigate the possibility of annoying your partner by allowing for you to be the one at fault.

I feel like you are pulling my hand down when I lead you into this pattern.

I’m struggling finding the connection here…

I’m feeling a lot of tension in this part…

However, I’ll echo what enetheru said and suggest not to give advice unless explicitly solicited. I still painfully remember one time, after 2 years of non-stop dancing and feeling confident in my knowledge, I gave unsolicited advice to a follow during a congress workshop. Given her reaction, it was clear she didn’t appreciate nor care for my advice and I soon found out that what I had mentioned was wrong as the instructor explicitly contradict me immediately after. The worst part, the follow I had tried to give advice to was a Pro with many years of experience on me and my dancing. I saw her perform that night.

User CMEast

It can never be said enough times – don’t give advice or criticism.

At the very most, you can ask if they are happy with your frame because it may make them think about their own. Don’t criticise them at all.

IF they explicitly ask for your opinion on a specific element if their dance AND it’s in a class/workshop setting then be honest, supportive and constrain your advice to that element only.

In a social situation rather than a class I wouldn’t give any critical feedback at all unless you know them well and they’ve asked for it.

In all other circumstances just give them reassurances.

The thing to remember is that they either aren’t interested in improving or they are already trying to improve on something.

If they aren’t trying to improve and just want to have fun then saying anything is just adding negativity for no benefit, spoiling their fun.

If they DO want to improve then they probably already are focusing on an element to be improved. If you add a comment it’ll be either about the thing they are working on in which case, yeah they already know but thanks for making them feel worse about it. More likely you’ll say something about a different part of their dance and they can’t focus on that and what they’re already working on, so now they’re distracted and unhappy.

User double-you

The problem with students giving advice is that they often don’t know what they are talking about. And more over, try to blame the other person for their own issues. It is great if the school you go to has managed to avoid these issues and everybody is being super constructive.

User moejoereddit

I think the consensus is, if the person asks for advice, give it to em and like you said with a big smile.
The tips you mention seem more like you’re trying to work together with the person to make the move come together which i think is good and a fun way to support each other.

I have to agree with others, giving unsolicited advice is unappreciated, especially when they person just wants to enjoy themselves.

I do give quite a few of my dance partners permission to give me feedback/critique, doesn’t mean they are cool with getting it.

User moejoereddit

I think the consensus is, if the person asks for advice, give it to em and like you said with a big smile.
The tips you mention seem more like you’re trying to work together with the person to make the move come together which i think is good and a fun way to support each other.

I have to agree with others, giving unsolicited advice is unappreciated, especially when they person just wants to enjoy themselves.

I do give quite a few of my dance partners permission to give me feedback/critique, doesn’t mean they are cool with getting it.

User JadedSociopath

I appreciate your enthusiasm and intent to be helpful, but I would be very careful about giving advice to other dancers.

Firstly… salsa is an art and is about fun and musicality. It’s not a science and not a sport. There are very few absolutes and as long as everyone is having fun, there is no need to correct anyone or be perfect.

Also, technique and timing varies between styles and schools and teachers. What you think is wrong may actually be right according to what the other person has learned. Don’t fall into the trap of arrogantly assuming you know how the other person should dance. Only give advice if the other person asks for it, you are already close friends, or you are a teacher or assistant instructor in a class of your own school.

Most of all… just remember to have fun and be willing to make mistakes and allow your partner to make mistakes if you’re both attempting to improvise and express your musicality.

User Chris_Yannick

I agree with the others about giving unsocilited advice. It’s never a good idea to offer it unless specifically asked for.

I remember when I was an intermediate lead (dancing about 1.5 years) and my teacher was observing me dance and came over and gave me unsolicited advice.

I was thinking about it for the rest of the night and couldn’t have fun any more.

Had it been at the end of the night, It wouldn’t have been so much of a distraction. I appreciated it of course, but at the time it didn’t help me.

Keep in mind this was my teacher giving advice. If anyone else were to have done it, my confidence would have been shot.

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