What is the difference between salsa freestyle dancing and choreographed salsa routines?

As with most style opf partner dance, salsa comes in two forms; 

  • Freestyle (lead & follow)
  • Choreographed 

The video above is Michelle and Francesco dancing a ‘freestyle’ salsa. This means they are using small body movements and arm positions to communicate to each other and make the dance come to life. The steps are not planned out in order but rather, Francesco (as the leader) is choosing one step after the other at lightening speed! 

Yes, it looks and sounds very complicated but it becomes second nature with practice. 

Let’s look at a salsa that is Choreographed. 

The video above is a choreographed salsa routine. Each step is planned one after the other and this routine will be danced exactly the same way to the same song every time. 

The step patterns used in both freestyle and choreographed salsa are generally the same other than the ‘shines’ or any lifts that may be used. 

What is a ‘salsa shine’? 

A salsa shine is where the two dancers move out of dance position so that they are no longer in contact and stand facing each other or side by side. They then perform salsa moves on their own. 

What is a lift? 

Like it sounds, one dancer lifts the other dancer off the ground. Whilst it is possible to do lifts when freestyling, it is not recommended as this can lead to injury.