How Can I Improve My Salsa Dancing?
So you’ve braved your first few salsa classes and survived.
Now let’s put a few things in place to help take your salsa to the next level! Here are some tips to help you on your Latin dance journey.
1. Back to Basics
Always practise the basics. Let’s lok at the anatomy of partner dances; a string of basic puzzle pieces threaded together in different sequences to make a huge range of steps patterns, salsa is no exception. The better you know and can perform each individual puzzle piece the better you can perform the entire dance.
I have found over my years of teaching that practising long, advanced, convoluted step patterns rarely helps students develop as much as going back to basics does. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the tiny intricate details of advanced patterns that your are no longer really dancing or making much progress. Even as teachers we train on the basics much more often then we train on the adavanced material.
If you have a bit of time to practise going back to basics is what I always recommend. Many members here at QuickSteps find that using the beginner salsa videos is very helpful for revision.
2. Lights, Camera, Action!
If you really want to improve your salsa you need to know what is lacking. The best way is to see it for yourself. Ask someone to film you dancing. Be sure to ask your teacher first as some studios don’t allow filming.
Once you have the video watch it back with your teacher and discuss and point out the things you would like to work on.
Give yourself a week or so and practise those few things until they feel better and then film again and watch back to compare.
It is a good idea to film the same sequence of steps so you can get a realistic comparison.
3. Use It Or Lose it!
For most people, one of the reasons they wanted to learn salsa in the first place was to be able to go out and use it. With so many Latin nights on around Adelaide it’s a great way to get fit, meet new people and have fun mid week.
Bonus: The more you go out and dance the better your dancing will become!
Once of my first coaches had the catchphrase ‘put those kilometers on the odometer!’ and this is a good thing to remember. The more miles on the clock the smoother your movements will become and the easier your salsa will be.
4. Ridin’ Solo
You wont always have the luxury of practising your salsa with a partner but… this is a blessing in disguise.
When two people are learning salsa there are twice the number of mistakes that can be made. Even if one person is practising a move or technique well the other could make a mistake that will throw them off and vica versa.
If two people come together after practicing separately the result is always much smoother, tighter dancing. I have seen this with my couples time and time again.
This is also why people that learn to dance as a single learn so much faster than couples, more time practising alone.
5. Know the Music
The better you know a piece of music the more you can play with the sound, lyrics and timing. This video is of our good friend Artia Zandian. He is a professional salsa dancer in Melbourne and has been back and forth to Adelaide to run workshops with us. You can see in this video that he is leading and following BUT as he knows the music so well it almost looks like a choreogrpahed routine. Artia has spend thousands of hours listening to and playing with Latin music. He understands how it works and can easily predict what it might do next.
6. Practise Salsa Shines
Being a great salsa dancer is not limited to turn patterns and lead and follow with a partner. Being able to hold your own on the dance floor is very important to make sure you are the whole salsa package!
We often refer to Salsa Shines. This is where to dancers dance salsa side by side or facing each other. They don’t necessarily have to be dancig the same thing and often wont be unless it’s part of a routine. Salsa Shines are a great way to practise your musicality and general body movement.
Here is Artia dancing Salsa Shines at a Salsa Congress.
7. See Salsa for Yourself
Watch dancing videos to get ideas and find salsa dancers you admire. There are millions of videos on Youtube to scroll through and watching. These will give you more of a feel of the look and movement you are going for when salsa dancing.
A large component of dancing is mimicking others and learning from each other. Pass the popcorn!
8. Confidence looks good on you!
We all enjoy watching someone that is confident and enjoying themselves. The more happy and confident you look when you are salsa dancing the better. Even if you’re not super confident to start with ‘fake it until you make it!’.
A few tips for looking and feeling confident:
- Head up- this doesn’t only help your dancing and your balance but it automatically makes you appear confident and in control
- Get dressed up- Wearing the right shoes, clothes and looking the part can make you feel more confident and therefore look more confident
It’s time for a power pose!
9. Private lessons
Spend time dancing with the professionals. Not only is it fun and a great work out but it will turbocharge your dancing!
Members at quickSteps enjoy private lessons regulary as part of their membership. If you attend a Latin studio that is mainly made up of group classes ask one of the teachers about how to tea up a private class with one of them.
10. Social Dance
Spend time dancing with people of ALL levels
-Dancing with more advanced dancers than yourself will push you to use the material you have learnt most recently and using the moves that are newer to you
-Dancing with beginners will help to sharpen your lead/follow- remember an excellent salsa dancer can make anyone look good regardless of ability level!