Salsa Dancing: How to Prime Your Body to Be a Better Dancer
If you want me to tell you how to salsa dancing, don’t expect a quick and easy answer. Latin dancing is fun, but it’s never for the faint of heart (or it’s fun precisely because it’s not for the faint of heart). Expect to break into a sweat.
Expect to feel your body being challenged to do feats it has never done before. Expect your mind and spirit to be asked to take risks.
If you want to be a better dancer, you have to prime your body to have the shape, strength, and stamina for it. Thus, you need to invest in healthy lifestyle practices that will help you make this happen and never forget how to maintain your dance etiquette.
If you want to learn to dance, understand that the lessons don’t start and stop on the dance floor. Enter a salsa dancing clubs and WOW!, you’ll see how it’s a multi-sensory experience: it’s all about every detail — from the lights to the music, to the smell, to the feel of your body and your partner’s body, to the energy of the crowd. This is such a cool experience!
So it pays to look at the discipline of dancing holistically. What you rehearse on the dance floor as well as what you do outside of it all impacts your every performance.
Here are some of the best practices that will prime you and your body to be better at salsa dancing:
• Show up. Discipline is one of the most powerful tools of a dancer. When you attend your classes regularly, you master the steps and improve your fitness at the same time. Your body also becomes more fine-tuned and flexible with practice, helping you avoid over-straining and injuries.
Moreover, the more your body gets used to the movements, the more you can express yourself and show your personality more during each dance.
• Exercise. While dance classes and rehearsals are a form of exercise by themselves, the more serious dancers also make sure to incorporate other forms of training and physical activities. This will help to maintain their peak physical condition.
Whether it’s strength training, yoga, Pilates, barre workouts or even just good old stretching or walking around the neighborhood, the right fitness plan can keep your body in tip-top shape.
• Rest. Work hard, Have fun. And it’s just as important to get a good amount of rest. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that dancers should be in high-energy mode all the time. You need your downtime as much as you need your movement.
Make sure you enjoy a good, deep sleep every night. Trust me, cultivating good sleeping habits is essential whether you’re a dance student or a seasoned professional.
• Eat well. See my blog post on getting proper nutrition as a dancer, for more detailed information and tips.
• Manage your stress. Some amount of pressure — and yes, a bit of stress — is actually good. This is good to push a dancer to his or her very best. But an overwhelming amount of stress will never be a good thing — dancer or not. When you perform as a dancer or are simply enjoying a fun dance night out, stressful events can happen.
The music player may be faulty; your partner may be experiencing an “off” day; you realize your shoes are too uncomfortable for the dance, and so on. Learning how to manage delays and distractions is important to be a better dancer.
When things are not going according to plan, when the music isn’t playing as it should, a good dancer knows how to dance to her own rhythm when the moment calls for it.
Speaking of managing stress, Do you know what is the death of a good dancer?. I’m planning to have this conversation in Real Talk on Latin Dance so stay tuned…