Joining a Performance Team

Question By User  snackingontears

A couple questions about your personal experience:

Why did you join a performance team?
What did you get out of it?
Did it help build your technique / form?

I’ve been dancing since May, taking classes consistently, and going to socials 2-4 times a week. What I’d really like right now it to hone my technique and defeat any bad habits I might be building – get my arms and hips moving correctly and get my spin technique down. I’m not super big on the idea of performing but I wonder if a team could help be polish how my dancing looks.


User gumercindo1959 

Like anything else, with moderation. I know folks who have grown tremendously with performance dancing as a complement but I also know people who have plunged themselves into performance training whose social dancing suffered. It should improve because it makes you much more precise on your movements/footwork/placement, etc.

User All__fun 

1. I joined because I wanted to get better. I knew joining a performance team, would allow me the opportunity to practice so much more !

I was extremely nervous during tryouts.

2. I learned that, I HATE performing. But I love the practice and dedication that is required of it. IMO If you want to become a monster social dancer, learn to perform. This does not mean every performer is a great social dancer, But you will learn proper technique, Frame, Basic steps, Turns, Spotting. + you will be practicing a lot .

3. I think my previous answer, said this already . But yes, this depends on who is the director. but seriously, you are going to be practicing so much, and as long as their are better dancers than you, you will LEARN sooo much.

User wanderingelephantlif 

Background: I’ve only done one performance (Cuban salsa rueda as a follow) and previously most of my latin dance experience came from social dancing for a few years with regular classes again this year.

I found learning choreo made me get used to expecting someone to dance perfectly and in a way that I was expecting which made it social dancing a little disappointing sometimes. On the plus side, I think it did hone some technique as I was thinking more about steps. This outcome might be because I stopped social dancing during this time. But I did get a lot of enjoyment and fun out of it.

If you’re just looking to improve technique, perhaps private lessons could be the way to go. Where I live now there are LA salsa technique-only classes at the local dance school which are amazing.

User andrewingram 

I did 7 performance teams over the course of 2 years, and whilst my social dancing did improve whilst doing them, I largely put it down to:

1. Social dancing more, because I now had a group of people I could go out with regularly. It got me to 5 congresses that I otherwise wouldn’t have gone to.

2. A desire to not look bad on stage made me take ownership of my own learning (most of my technique improvements decidedly did *not* come directly from the performance training).

A performance team will help you learn particular moves and steps better, but the duration (typically 12 weeks) isn’t enough time for deep improvement, so you’ll mostly find yourself focusing on practicing the bits that *look* worst rather than *feel* worst. If your teacher is particularly good (e.g. world class) you may get deep technique improvements from the course, but chances are that you won’t.

User andrewingram 

I had a lot of stubbornness whereby I wasn’t happy with a partnerwork move from the choreo unless I could feel that I was actually leading it (rather than it being anticipated, which is the norm for choreos, even at high levels). So where other people would get completely lost after a mistake, I developed the ability to recover quickly — it turns out this is a key social dancing skill.

Once I was on my 3rd/4th choreo, I could memorise the routine pretty quickly which meant more of my training time was spent working on improvement.

I learned to ignore a lot of what my teacher was saying and observe what he was doing. In my experience most teachers to some degree aren’t fully aware of their bodies (though they are to a greater degree than their students), which means their instructions don’t always match their actions, if you can spot this happening you can correct for it.

The big one is that halfway through all the choreos I happened to go on holiday to Australia and took a private with Sharon Pakir, who is such a gifted teacher and I can’t praise her enough. She quickly identified the root cause of a lot of my weak technique and put me on the path to correcting it. I’ll give an example (this one from a second private I took a month or so ago). Like many leaders I have visibly lazy steps during partnerwork. A typical teacher (even a good one like Super Mario) will just remind you to step. But what do you do when your brain thinks you are stepping but the message isn’t quite getting through? It could be a neurological issue (I do actually have something like this in my right leg, but it’s not the main problem). Or it could be an issue with the way you’re stepping. Sharon identified that my “steps” were using my leg muscles too much and my hip flexors too little. So now I’m focusing on this and have noticed a big difference.

The key takeaway is that if you take control of your own learning (even sporadically), you will improve. People who wait to be force fed technique will usually be waiting a longer time. Quite often this means recognising that even your teachers get it wrong (but be careful, they still know a lot more than you), and spreading the net wider in order to learn.

User katyusha8 

I think being in a performance team will help you in the sense that you will be forced to practice more. If you want to really improve – find a good teacher and take privates.

User double-you 

What you will learn depends a lot on the teacher/director/whatchamacallit of the team. You will learn choreography and about performing. But there are serious and less serious teams. If it is more about fun and doing stuff, technique won’t be high on the agenda. Leading and following is never high on the agenda because that is not very important in performances. It helps, but in the end everybody knows what should happen and then the task is to do it and make it look good. So in a more serious team, there will be a lot of work on personal dancing and everybody doing things the same way because it has to look uniform and in sync. How much depends on the aspirations of the teacher and somewhat on the general skill level in the team (because uniformity).

So go and look at what the current team looks like. Maybe talk to them.

User digitalsmear 

Performance team isn’t going to do anything for you that just dancing regularly can’t do. At this point, at least.

What a performance team can do is help you drill in basics that you already have a strong foundation in to a much higher mastery and precision. Unless you have a high level dance background from before your bachata experience, then you simply don’t have the skill.

Of course, you could be some kind of phenom, but if your teachers are telling you that you’re this good, it’s either a small school that needs the student activity (income), or you should find another school because they’re not experienced enough to tell.

That said, if you really want to do it, then have fun. I developed some pretty deep friendships over the course of my performance classes. Nothing makes people bond quite like an impending showcase deadline, and a drive to represent our best selves by putting in the hard work necessary to show it.

User dwkfym   

a vast majority of amatuer performance teams outside NYC don’t seem to make you a better dancer. It really depends on the instructor. My first team, no offense to anyone who was on it, really sucked. But, the instructor was actually very good (if uninspiring) at teaching his version of the dance and it helped me become a better dancer overall. That being said the rest of the teammates haven’t really improved in the last few years.

Honestly I’ve seen people becoming better dancers faster by going to dedicated classes (especially ones that emphasize social dancing fundementals) than at a performance team.

In my city at least, people tend to join teams prematurely, then get jaded at dancing because they missed out on all the other stuff that gets unlocked by social dancing, and then quit, or sorta stay at a holding pattern of dance skills and keep dancing with current or past teammates.

it’ll keep happening as new people keep recognizing status of people they’ve seen at a performance whether they are good or not, and as promoters keep using them as ways to get more people in through the door.

User projektako 

For me, zero. I shunned performance for a long time. After a couple of rounds performing, I realized it was a completely different skill. And I didn’t like it. Performing choreography is like a classical recital, social dancing is like a jazz jam session.

Sure, maybe if you’re an beginner or intermediate level dancer and you are still familiarizing yourself with possible patterns I can understand how it may help… But after a certain point in your development… Especially at intermediate and advanced levels, it shouldn’t help with your social dancing at all. It may actually make it worse.

For me, social dancing is about improvisation and being in the moment with you, your partner, and the music. You have real freedom of expression. A performance team may help you polish technique and execution… But I think one doesn’t NEED a performance team to help you with that, it doesn’t have much to offer than the ego boost of being on stage. Social dancing requires flexibility as each dance is a brand new experience. Skills to deal with that are totally different.

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