Do you want to be a Great Social Dancer? Well this post is dedicated to helping people (irrespective of level) identify what it takes for them to become the best social dancer that they can possibly be.
Now – if you don’t have time to read this article – In a nut-shell, it all boils down to Connection: Connecting with the Music – Connecting with your partner – connecting with the move… etc. It’s all about connection. However, how can you improve on this connection? Well that is what I am going to share with you in this article, So let’s get to it….
1. It’s all about the MUSIC:
You do not dance to 123, 567! Those are counts, you dance to the music!
Don’t forget about the Music when you dance because you are too busy counting. Dance to the MUSIC!
Counting was introduced to make teaching easier and to help people keep the rhythm. It was never meant to replace the music all together. So, Dance to the Music!
Now, just in-case you missed it, DANCE WITH THE MUSIC!
There is a combination of 3 things that encompasses dancing to the Music. I recommend you start with A and work your way down to C.
A) Dance on the Song = To the right beat (45%). You can’t just dance to some imaginary beat in your head. Salsa dance is based on moving to the rhythm. Anything else isn’t really Salsa. So find the rhythm and stick with it.
B) Dance to the song = Style of music (35%). Is it a romantica (dance soft) or a dura (dance hard) or a classica (dance smooth)? Don’t just execute endless turn patterns irrespective of the style of music. Make sure your dance style fits the music. Music like all good stories has an intro, a build up, a main section and an outro. Make sure you move accordingly and understand the idea of flow – using both exertion and calmness to create varying effects when you dance.
C) Dance with the Music = Interpret the music and play with it (20%). Feel the music with your body and hit those musical accents and feel the changes in the song and use these changes in your movement to express it. Hitting a break in the song with a perfectly timed dip or move is magic and will do wonders for you and your dance partner.
2. TECHNIQUE, Technique, Technique
Perfect Practice makes perfect. Dancing is an art-form and just like any art-form, you need not just practice, but practice perfectly. So Learn to Lead or Learn to Follow. However, what does it mean to Lead or follow?
A) LEARN TO FOLLOW
Follows should feel and not think; following in this sense refers to feeling the lead and the rhythm, not thinking what does the lead want me to do now? This requires the Follow to be totally receptive.
Imagine the Leader is like a radio station sending out signals or sound waves, and you the Follower are like a radio with it’s antenna totally receptive. The whole dance is the interplay of opposites but these opposites need to blend together to work in harmony and become one, just like the yin-yang symbol. (analogy courtesy of Marchant Birch)
B) LEARN TO LEAD
Think of this as learning to drive a car. Nothing beats experience and you have got to pay your dues and learn (Sorry, no short-cuts). The more your drive the better you get, same on the dance floor.
Now driving just like leading follows the same principles. You do not drive every-car exactly the same even though the principles of driving are set. So a Ferrari is very different experience from a Volkswagen beetle in almost every way. The point?
Even though technique remains the same, every follow is different and thus requires a different lead. Therefore, continuously learn how different follows move and adjust your lead accordingly.
P.S. Accept the fact that not everyone can be the Adolfo Indacochea on the dance floor. Get over it and just be the best damn driver you can be! This boils down to Quality over quantity. Rather do the 6 moves you know really well than the 26 you just learned yesterday and haven’t perfected yet.
3. HAVE FUN:
Having Fun is probably the most important thing on the dance floor. Here are 5 key points that will help you communicate to your dance partner that you are having a good time:
A) Smile – This is the easiest way to communicate you are having a good time and put the person you are dancing with at ease.
B) Dance together – Dance is a language of communication. So for the few minutes you dance together, make the person you are dancing with feel like the center of the universe. Forget about how many people are watching you, it has nothing to do with them. This dance is between you and your partner. 2 people sharing a beautiful moment and creating a wonderful experience together.
C) Eye contact – Maintain some form of eye contact, however don’t gaze into each others eyes too deeply. Note: Staring the entire time without blinking comes across as serial killerish. Too little eye contact however comes across as disinterested. So you need to find the balance.
D) Hygiene – It’s kind of hard to have fun when you are pressed up against someone dripping with sweat and smells like they have not had a shower in days and also has bad Breath! Enough Said.
E) Don’t be a creep – Learn to respect personal space. While dancing is in essence a sensual activity, everyone has their limits, and crossing them is the opposite of fun.
Till next time, Live, Laugh, Love & Salsa!
This Article is based on research and advice given by some of the worlds best salseros and salseras. What do you think? Is there anything else missing in this article that would help make you become a Great Social Dancer? If so, please share with me and the world.