I don't think you need worry about the 'emotional side of dance' until you have mastered the basics. You say you have been only dancing a few months so work on the steps, footwork, posture, turns and walks before worrying about anything else. Arms in latin can be very expressive but they take work not to look mechanical. Often women don't want to put the work in. Your 'inner tigress' can be released when you can dance.
There is a famous book (some people call it "the bible") by Alex Moore, with the simple title "Ballroom Dancing," that you should read. (Alex Moore is English and the figures he describes are International style, not American, but his explanation of technique applies to all types of ballroom dancing.) There is a little section in the back of the book with the title "Expression in Dancing" that is what you want.
That does not mean you should ignore the advice others have posted about learning proper technique first. (Again from Moore's book: "The secret of the successful study of this book has nothing to do with the ability to remember such technical details as the numbers of the steps on which CBM, Rise and Sway occur. Rather it is the ability to understand why they occur." When you get to that point, then you may be ready for "expression.")
Our favorite dance instructor used to say that "Dance is a feeling."
Sorry ahead of time if this sounds rude but dance is what you should be focusing on not on playing an emotional game. If it is an emotional game your looking for perhaps you should seek professional advice on getting the attention and help you need.If you perceive other people's honest dilemma's as a way to enhance your own life you should consider not using a dance studio as an outlet for your needs. A dance studio just wants people to go dance and enjoy the experience.
Your instructor shouldn't be manipulating you and you shouldn't be okay with it. You shouldn't want to play back. You should find an instructor who can keep you interested because he is an amazing teacher. You aren't paying for someone to jerk your emotions around, you should be paying for someone to teach you proper technique.
I love my instructor and over the years we have grown quite close. He has never manipulated me and if he ever did our dancing relationship would be quite over. If I am competing or performing do we sizzle....yes....but only, I REPEAT ONLY on the dance floor while performing for others.
Thank you all for your responses! I appreciate hearing all of your opinions about this topic. I especially appreciate the suggestion to get the book Ballroom Dancing, and am looking forward to reading it.
I'm very interested to know what kind of boundaries all of you keep with your instructors, students, and dance partners.
I think some people (dancer) have misunderstood my intentions a bit. I really think this is an important topic to talk about, especially for new dancers, because, like it or not, there is a romantic element to dance that is easy to get caught up in if you're not expecting it. As least it was for me. Just because I fell for my teacher does not mean that I'm not working on the basics, not dancing for the sake of dancing, or "using other people's honest dilemmas as a way to enhance [my] own life". (The latter comment was so caustic. Dancer, I appreciate brutal honestly, but I don't think I meant whatever it is you think I meant.)
I'm wondering if the salsa scene where I'm at isn't just a little bit different from the usual ones. I'm living on a small island in Asia, and the dancers here are quite close to each other. We not only go to the club together, we take classes together, have dinner during the week, take weekend trips to the big city, and constantly chat together over social networking. I think that makes a bit of a difference in our emotional entanglements.
I'm thinking about tearing the original post down and beginning a new one that will get comments more in the direction of boundary keeping. Looking back, the first one sounds a little pathetic. I just find it confusing and uncomfortable when the dancers at my club start telling me that they're in love with me, especially when a few weeks later they are in love with someone else. But, never will I ever fall for another dancer again. Ever. I'm really just interested in having fun and protecting my emotions as well as the emotions of the other dancers around me while being able to dance romantically without having it go beyond just dancing. Belleofyourball, it's good to hear that that's entirely possible.
Also, there was an instructor who posted on this thread when I first wrote it who opened up about some of the training he received on how to manipulate students. Even though you deleted it, if you read this, I just want to say thank you for your honesty. Your post was so helpful, and I'm really glad I was able to read it when it was still up. I wish we all could have more open conversations about these things.
Emotional and sexual manipulation by the dancers (teachers and performers) has been described in literature going back thousands of years.
Hetaeras, geishas and such ruled countries from the shadows or married emperors. The power of dance had been harnessed by religious and shamanic rituals. The dance lessons for regular folks existed even then and the same crap dates back that far.
Religions tried to regulate it. Everybody knows the joke about a rabbi who does not allow a newlywed couple to have upright sex because it "may turn into dance".
Dance is a mating ritual. Biologically speaking, the hormones produced during dance foster feeling of emotional unity, boundless trust, generosity and these feelings for a specific person who aroused them once, may last for the rest of some people's life. It has less to do with sex - except for the same hormones are produced during orgasm, childbirth and when parents gaze at their children. Dear dance instructors: I read a lot of complaints about novice women being inappropriate - have mercy! They cannot help themselves, most of the time do not understand what happens and a deep shame and confusion frequently follow them home.
Unfortunately, for the instructors, the sense of power and a secondary gain, a high from the same hormone release, makes the process irresistible. Studios exploit this phenomena mercilessly. It takes a very mature, professional and an ethical dance teacher to help an unsuspecting or confused pupil to channel and sublimate all this flood of feelings into learning excellence and constructive challenge.
It takes a mature and smart student to process and intellectualize what is happening to them and make choices. Dear students - we are educated and successful, ambitious and assertive. Sublimate and intellectualize; look at your dance challenge as a process that requires dedication, technical excellence and financial resources. But be honest with yourself - a physical embrace by a trained individual with the music and a few supportive kind glances will always produce a powerful psycho-physiological reaction; the smarter you are - the more meaningful it might become, because you will rationalize it. "Brainy" people are more susceptible. There is nothing you can do about it: EXCEPT:
take complete control, do your research, know what you want and set boundaries; choose your instructors and have them teach you what YOU need. There is no level when they know better. If you are still interested in a complete trust and being powerless in the process - it is not the learning you are looking for. It is what it is.
Thank you, "wlemery" for being brutally honest and confirming what I had figured out by observing a studio for almost one year.