Improving your salsa dancing
Here are some tips to help both leaders and followers become good salsa dancers. 1)THE MUSIC is number one when you dance. Listen to it. It has two parts: rhythm and melody. First, concentrate on the rhythm or beat. You must dance to this beat, or there is no way you will become a good dancer. You actually want to feel as though you are dancing behind the beat. Even fast salsa music, when you get really good, is not that fast; so don’t rush. Stay with the tempo. The majority of beginner salsa dancers tend to rush the tempo. They are ahead of the beat. A good way to slow yourself down is to practice salsa basics to cha cha music. Just leave out the cha cha. This will definitely slow you down. If you are dancing to one tempo, and your partner’s on a different tempo, there is no way you will have a good time. This is the single most important thing. The melody or the tune is the second part of the music. This is a lot harder to dance to, and will only come with lots of experience and knowing the music. Eventually, you want to dance to both.
2)BODY MECHANICS: Each type of dance has a specific way of moving. If you don’t move that specific way, you won’t look good dancing to that music. You can’t dance salsa and look like a tango dancer or ballet dancer. It doesn’t look right. You need to have that salsa look and feel. There are a lot of elements that make a salsa dancer look like a salsa dancer. Two of the most important are Cuban motion and the figure eight. You can see these two things explained and demonstrated on our Youtube chanel. You need to have both motions wired to look and dance salsa well. Do not spend another second learning a new “advanced step” before you have these motions down pat. Salsa dancing isn’t salsa dancing without these two motions.
3)Stay in your DANCE CIRCLE. If you stand on one leg and allow the free leg to naturally hang down so that it just touches the floor, then make a circle with that free leg around your body without any stretch, this is your dance circle. Stay in it when you dance. This will make sure that your steps are the right size. Large steps are a not good. You should be dancing with your body and not your legs. The body moves the legs and not the other way around. Smaller steps will also help your balance.
4)DON’T GRAB. You want to be connected to each other with a very light touch. The leader is not there to be your balance beam. You don’t want to grab on to him on every other step. If you have trouble with your balance don’t wear 6 inch heels. Wear flats until you are able to dance in heels. And for the leaders. You aren’t doing judo. A good leader doesn’t need to throw the woman around. You should be able to led a good follower in almost every step with one finger. When you are leading and following the right way, it will take almost no effort. The wrong way, and it feels like a wrestling match.
5)DANCE at each others ABILITY. A great leader when dancing with a beginner, will only do steps she can do. Taking her into steps that are beyond her ability is bad leading. If you haven’t danced with a woman before, build the dance. Start with easy stuff, and get more and more advanced. Don’t do a cross body lead with a turn before you have led her in a simple cross body. This is building the dance. If you’re an advanced follower, and you agree to dance with some beginner guy, don’t expect him to be Johnny Mambo.
6)ADVANCED DANCERS: Dance with people who are better than you. This is true for any field. Want to raise your chess game or boxing skills, you’re not going to do it with people at a kindergarten level. This is sometime hard to so since advanced dancers usually have no interest in dancing with beginners. So the best way to do this is by taking privates. With one on one instruction, you can work on all your problem areas at your own pace and get out of any bad habits and be prevented from developing any new ones.
7)PERFECT PRACTICE. Practice makes perfect is one of the most untrue phrases I have ever heard. Practice all day long the wrong way, and you will do it the wrong way. Go to the golf range and see all the golfers practicing their bad swings and never getting any better. They are just enforcing that bad swing. This is a problem with many dancers. They get in bad habits and dance with other dancers who have the same bad habits. Grabbing, steps too large, rushing the timing, poor body mechanics is no way to dance. When you learn something, make sure you learn it exactly the right way, and practice it exactly the right way. If you don’t, you are only enforcing bad habits. Remember, only perfect practice make perfect.