With Salsa dance, or any Latin dance for that matter, what makes a good dancer isn’t just the moves on stage or on the dance floor. As a salsa dancer (( a good dancer )), it’s also hugely about what you do when you’re not in the spotlight at social dance events.
As someone who has been seriously into salsa dance for more than two decades now, I’ve personally witnessed, and danced with, what I believed are some of the greatest movers and shakers in Latin dance. So I’d like to share with you some radical, proven advice that will help you become a great salsa dancer.
These tips are worth knowing, whether you’re already dancing, learning through Salsa classes, taking lessons in other Latin dance styles, or even if you have watched how to salsa dance videos.
But first, ( I am not talking about COVID here but.. ) let’s answer this question: What Is the Death of a Good Salsa Dancer?
So, let’s begin.
The Lack of Motivation, Discipline, and Determination
To avoid this in your Salsa dance and to know how to get better at dancing, here is my tip for beginners and seasoned Salsa dancers alike, if you still want to continue to be a good dancer.
What motivates you about Salsa dance? Is it the idea of becoming the Salsa dancer you’ve dreamed of since you were little? Or is it your desire to simply do something that you love, like becoming a good dancer in general? Maybe you want to look like the people performing on stage? Finding your motivation allows you to tap into your determination for pursuing the success and life that you want as a dancer, or in any other part of your life.
Any dancer can become a great Salsa dancer once they are crystal clear on their motivation and determination.
The no-frills, raw, and simple truth: You’ve got to practice, practice, practice if you want to achieve the status of a good dancer. This is not an option but a must-have to become a great Salsa dancer. I can’t emphasize it enough.
The more you do it, the easier it will become, and the easier it gets, the more confident you will become. Having more confidence on the dance floor will drive the fun factor through the roof in your social Salsa dancing!
The road to “Salsa Dance Heaven” will not happen overnight. Think of it just like investing for retirement. The sooner you start the journey to become a good Salsa dancer, the sooner you can reap the rewards on the Salsa dance floor. Just saying.
I can’t describe enough just how important commitment to the craft is. I have been teaching Salsa dancing for over 20 years now, and I can tell you that if there’s one factor that makes a person become a good dancer at Salsa quickly, or that significantly slows down the progress of learning.
It’s the amount of dedication the student, or Salsa dancer to be more specific, puts into it.
What any salsa dancer ( YOU ) need to do:
Commit to your rehearsals and show up for practice, or learn Salsa dance at home (check out the La Clave Membership to get you started). Stick to it whether it’s for every new step you learn or just the basic steps. You will reap the rewards.
Trust me — I still dedicate time every day to create new steps for my students and practice diligently so I continue to be a great Salsa dancer.
A good dancer aims to get better at demonstrating the steps. This strategy alone has helped me to teach new dance steps more effectively during my lessons. I practice five to ten minutes a day. You will be surprised at how this little amount of time will improve your dancing; try it from today until the next time you go out dancing.
Just try it and let me know what you think.
Remember, when you practice you’ll become a better dancer. When you become a better Salsa dancer, you will gain greater confidence. When your confidence is greater, you will have so much fun at the Salsa dance!
A Good Dancer never Loses the Ability to Focus and Doesn’t Have Spatial Awareness
These are other things that any good dancer avoids at all costs to prevent the death of a Salsa dancer. Here is my take on what to do to prevent these from happening.
An essential trait that makes a great Salsa dancer is the ability to focus, really focus. Dancing is a crafted skill that comes from a lot of dedication, discipline, motivation, determination, and above all, focus. Like with anything else, ALL dancers, and I mean ALL DANCERS, will have good days and bad days. I know because I’ve been there before.
Whether you are a performer or not, you will have some days when you feel as though you’ve reached your limits because of being tired, frustrated, or having too much pressure. On those unlucky days, being able to collect your thoughts back into focus is what often sets apart a so-so dancer from a great dancer. In other words, breathe in and breathe out!
This next point is something I discovered after talking to a lot of dancers like ten years ago. I was very surprised at the time because I was being considerate of this with my dance partner. The thing that I’m talking about is spatial awareness.
Dancers, whether beginners or more advanced dancers, must have the ability to be aware of the space of both your body and your surroundings. Having spatial awareness means that you can move around the dance floor knowing precisely how to use your space, how to avoid bumping into other dancers, and how to simply not be in the way.
Learn to cultivate this trait so you have a more natural ability to move upstage, downstage, right and left, and to be aware of your body movements around the space available to you at the Salsa dance event.
You Stop Being Creative, Passionate, and Self-Aware
When I talk about self-awareness, I am not referring to just body position, but in mind as well. A good dancer must be aware of where their body, hands, and arms are positioned, as well as their mental state in preparation for dancing or performing. Dance is an expression of sense and emotion, and as such, it can’t help but be affected by the dancer’s mentality in the moment.
Self-awareness, in addition to the body, allows a dancer to sharpen their focus. I’m just saying.
One thing that all my students realize is when they understand the mechanics of the steps, they begin to tap into their own sense of creativity, and display these aspects through their dancing, leading, and styling.
Sometimes this will show through subtle personal interpretations of motion or even facial expressions, but a dancer must be able to create to add their emphasis to their dancing.
Bringing all of these attributes together, a dancer needs a genuine, core love of dancing. They can be frustrated with certain things, they can easily not enjoy certain moves or styles, but in the end, a dancer has to be passionate about the craft. To be super awesome at dancing, you have to be passionate about it.
The Absence of Perseverance, Humility, and Confidence
The shortage of this new group of traits is sure-fire death of any Salsa dancer, including you. But, knowledge is power. So, here is how to avoid it.
With Salsa dance, knowing that it will take time and hard work is a must. A dancer, at any level of dancing, will also need the willpower to get back up after every fall and redo any mistakes in the steps. Even when working your hardest and being patient with the process, it will take a little time to learn something new. Baby steps are what you need to remember here.
Humility? Dancing requires the ability to get help when you need it and a good dancer must have a certain amount of humility. Any person must understand that there is always someone better, someone more skilled, and someone more experienced. In the Salsa dance arena, this is a fact!
Rather than denying it or being jealous, you should seek out those above you and ask for guidance, when appropriate. Nothing is lost but everything is gained by doing so.
This trait should also apply when giving guidance to those less skilled or less experienced, as you were once there before, remember? I was, were you?
The Flip Side of things
The flip side of humility is confidence. This is not in opposition to humility, but rather coexists with it in a balance. Any dance is a performance art. It requires belief in one’s self and one’s abilities to execute it.
What you know, and the progress you have made, feeds the perseverance when learning something new, and allows any dancer to show it off, when appropriate. It reminds a dancer what they’ve done well before to help them believe they can accomplish the next challenge. Confidence is a safe way to continue learning, so apply it everywhere.
As you can see, the death of a good dancer is caused by a negative mindset, lack of focus, and many other traits. But, it is also true that the opposite is what keeps any Salsa dancer alive.
When it comes to Salsa dance, words like confidence, self-awareness, and discipline, just to mention a few, are equally important for your own personal growth.
A great Salsa dancer avoids the negative traits and embraces the good vibes of dancing. Sometimes all we need a short break from dancing to jump-start the fun process again.
Here a quote for you:
“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.” – Hans Selye
Stay positive and become a great Salsa dancer!