I have been dancing for a couple of years now, and I notice different places start the box step differently. Some start forward with the left foot on a slow(as a lead) and some places start side together with the left foot with quick, quick. What is the main difference of the two? Just curious, thanks.
I am not sure if there is a preference related to American vs. International style, but I have been taught both ways as well. My personal preference is the side-together with the left foot start (QQ). For some reason, it makes it easier for me to go into a crossover or a fifth position break sequence or even a cross-body lead or Cuban Walk. Couldn't tell you why that is, other than it's a "comfort zone" thing. Good question, though. I have often wondered myself. I want to say Terence or Jonathan addressed this a couple of years ago, but not sure.
Its all to do with "clave". if dancing it QQ "side" the rhythm falls in line with that ( the 2nd bar on "2" is ON clave,, the 6th beat ).
When mambo first was introduced, it was taught breaking on "4", which is the beat preceeding the conga slap on " and", which is a clave beat.. but.. the change to the backward position of breaking on " 2 " falls more in line with the actual clave , hence the reason for the side action which was translated (QQ ) into the back break of Mambo.
Its all to do with the " call and response " from Cuban Rumba ( folk style ) .
One also has to be careful because the the clave may change from 2/3 to 3/2 without notice .
The 2 most dominant Clave rhythms in use are the Guaguanco in 2/3 and Montuno a rev Clave in 3/2.
most salsa is written in the Guaguanco style and reversals to Montuno in 3/2 is a more "folksie " side of latin rhythms.
In addition there is Guaracha in 3/2 which is the faster form of Danzon/ Rumba .
All of these come under the " Son " banner . ( Guajira is the Cha cha form )..
hope I didnt confuse you !!
PS.. this may be of interest.. The 2 chain schools have a different approach to Rumba Amer. style F/A commence side QQ.. A/M Fwd S.
The national D.D. for F/A was John Monte ( I worked in NYC with him ) and his brother was Hugo Montenegro, a world class musician.. that may have some bearing on their interpretation of Rumba.
Starting with left foot forward with SLOW is just a short cut. Starting with QUICK QUICK on the side is just a longer route. After QUICK QUICK on the side, then step forward with left foot on SLOW. SAME BANANA, YES?
You may ask same question for american style cha cha cha. Some people start forward to lead with left foot on 2, 3, 4, & 1 as a short cut. Some start to lead with left foot on the side on 1, left foot back on 2, 3 in place, 4 on side, & on side close, 1 on the side. Then left foot forward on 2.
Will someone explain to me why there is so much discussion on which beat to start dancing.
In my opinion it does not matter as long as one observes the basic rhythm (for CC: 2,3,C,C ,1), from which syncopating variations are allowed. The judges dont care if you start with the L or the R foot, as long your basic rhythm is correct and you emphasize the correct beats, such as 1 or sometimes 3 in CC, in other words you are technically correct otherwise.
Just an interesting FYI fact.... The Arthur Murray studio's syllabus has the American Rumba starting with a forward step (for the man) with the left foot in a SQQ count. The Fred Astaire syllabus has the Rumba starting with a side step (for the man) with the left foot in a QQS count.
Like others have stated, it really doesn't matter to judges which way you start as long as your basic rhythm is correct.
A "folk tale" I've heard related to this is that Arthur Murray taught EVERY dance with the gentleman starting by stepping forward on his left foot. When the Fred Astaire studios were established ("stealing" some instructors from Arthur Murray), they taught Rumba starting with the side step instead of the forward step to avoid a lawsuit for "stealing" patterns from the Arthur Murray syllabus. (I don't know enough about copyright law to know if it is possible to copyright a dance pattern.) As the story goes, Fred Astaire (the studio, not the person) claimed that starting with the side step is more like the way Cubans dance—I have no idea if this was actually true. It's a good story, at least.
I am a little confused about rgswoohoo comment. IMO, Fred Astaire and Arthur Murray both teach students to start on the 1 beat for all American dances, smooth and rhythm, except for mambo. In the example of the rumba, they differ on whether it is a SQQ or a QQS step pattern, but they both start on the 1 beat. Another difference, in Eastern Swing, AM starts with the back rock, FA starts with the first triple step, but again both start on the 1 beat. With their attempts to be "different", it has always amazed me that both studios start the Cha Cha with a left side step (for the man) on the 1 beat, and then a back step on 2. Since most studios in the US start beginning students on the American Style, the studios don't need to teach that International Latin Rumba starts on the 2 beat until the student has progressed, and hopefully can fathom the difference and not be confused (of course, there are a lot of other differences that the student must learn).
If you listen to the music, you will hear that in some Rumba songs the downbeat is on a S, while in others it is on a Q. So some songs naturally lend themselves to the SQQ rhythm; others naturally fit the QQS rhythm.
I learned Rumba from teachers who taught the QQS rhythm, so I try to find the first Q in a measure (which may not be the first note in a measure) and start then. Once you get into the dance, it makes no difference.
Dancing is moving your body through space to music. Listen to the music. Don't worry so much about the steps. (The foot positions matter, but they aren't primary.) Your feet just keep the rhythm.
First.. one cannot ( in most instances ) name propriatory rights, to specific fundamental dance figures. AM has figures with their names incorporated,which are copyrite, BUT, a BOX construction pre dates all the dance school figures.
Once again, the commencing direction in latin, has to do with the " call and response " theory , to which the the music relates.
Both the SQQ and QQS , occupy the 1st 2 beats of a bar, the key ,is to make sure its the correct bar, in the 2 bar sequence .
You're getting a little confused here (I was an examiner for many yrs in the States both Intern. and Amer. styles) and unless AM has changed since I left, their ECS, commenced with a Triple to the mans left.
And the Cha in Intern. style is normally "prepped " on "1" before breaking on " 2" as are the Amer.styles. Direction is just one of the major differences between the two.
There has, in recent times, been some Profs who think that the Amer. system needs to be more aligned with the Intern, style in technique. (I personally, disagree with this).
The " down beat " is the 1 and 3 of each bar; combining the 1st and 2nd beat in the bar, thus occupying more " time ", is given a SLOW value. " 2 " is contra tiempo and occurs on 2 and 4.
If you mean that some songs seem more "1" than "2" oriented, yes, that does happen ,and some more of a "2" , particularly in Salsa, BUT, that, does not change the basic principle of the music structure.
For e.g. in Cuban Son, the stressed "4" is its signature , but ,its still breaks on "2", contra tiempo, with a very identifiable "1" in the bar .
Latin music is very complex, and can even change mid stream in a song, going from a 3/2 clave to a 2/3 .
In the Rumba Box or otherwise, there are three steps and four beats.By stepping forward on a slow which is two beats is it possible to comfortably get a movement of the hip on that step and any subsiquent Slow. Please correct me if you think this is a sensible way to dance a Rumba.