Basic Step with Side Breaks

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DT: What does "break" mean in this context?

Helmut: It's a rock step, either forward or back or anywhere. If you step in any direction with one foot and then shift back onto the other foot which stays where it started, that is a break step whether you do it in rhumba or salsa or whatever.

DT: How are you leading this?

Helmut: It happens after the man's back rock step, or back step. Most of the steps are led after the man's back rock, or the lady's forward rock. After I do the back break, or back rock, I bring my feet together and go sideways. Again, if I don't change the shape of my arm, my weight going to the side is going to lead the lady to go sideways also.

Up straight...

...lady's upper body remains
erect. She reaches from the
waist. It is not visible from
this angle but her right leg
is bent...

...Now her left leg is bent.

Kana: If the leader goes to side, lady goes to side, -- we go to side with him. Since my moving foot in the beginning of set is always my right foot regardless of whether it is backwards or side, I just go where he goes. You could lead this and follow without hold. You could do free-hand and looking at each other by just a visual lead and follow, thatís possible.

DT: Is it easier to follow if the couple is attached rather than free-hand, or hands free?

Kana: I feel it's the same, not hard. In the very beginning of the first class, I do this with a free hand lead as well. Most people lead and follow pretty well. [Ed.: There is one example of a free hand figure in salsa 1 , figure 10, The Chase]

DT: Can one lead you forward and back free hand?

Kana: Yeah, you have to know the basic part of the footwork. But, as soon as his body comes forward, his body weight will commit to forward and we just go back. Maintaining the relationship between two bodies, the distance remains same and the way you are facing to each other.

DT: So you as the follower are fixating on where the leaderís upper body is moving to.

Kana: Yes, You are moving together as though you are in invisible tubes together, forward and back or sideways.

DT: In dance parlance, we often hear the term "doll arms" used when discussing frame, the idea being that a doll's arms are inflexible. If the doll's body turns, her arms turn too. Helmut, is that a good analogy for frame?

Helmut: Partly, but there is some spring to your arms. You do not want to hold them rigid, you just want to hold them in the same place.

DT: Okay, you stated Kana that it is more the action of the knees than the hips that determines the sway in the hips. Is that true with this figure also?

Kana: Yes. You are always landing with your knee bent. You are placing the moving foot with that knee bent or flexed, then gradually you shift the weight and your legs become straight.

DT: Is it part of the look of the dance that the placing of weight on the bent knee is done gradually?

Kana: I always encourage students to visualize something like a laser energy beam comes through the floor to your ball of foot -- to your heel, to your ankle and knee, all the way through to the hip.

DT: You werenít swinging your hips out there.

Kana: I am not trying to swing my hips out there, but my body shift coming through the floor through every part of my legs eventually move my hip. You will get more successful results if you do not initiate the move from the hip. You will have more successful results if you think about weight change to your legs.

DT: Helmut, Is the action the same for the gentleman do you feel?

Helmut: Yes.

DT: Helmut, you started with a left side break? Is starting right just as good?

Helmut: I suppose you could start to the right, but it is traditional that most of the patterns start off after the man's back break and that would mean the first side break would be to the man's left. But other than that, I suppose you could start with a right side break.

DT: How about doing just one side break, or any odd number of side breaks such as 1 or 3?

Helmut: You could, but not traditionally.

DT: Kana, what happens with your upper body during this Cuban motion.

Kana: Itís very free and flexible, you donít want to stiffen yourself, but upper torso is always very active.

The Keys:
The forward back basic step (the first page) has a forward step, or forward break and a back step or back break. This side break variation represents the first of 3 consecutive break variations, the other 2 to follow being the forward break variation and the back break variation.

Like most variations, this side break variation is begun after the man's back break. If the leader goes to his left, the lady stays in front of his chest and goes in that direction also.

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