Learn how to salsa dance
10 Ways to Practice Salsa Without a Partner and Get Damn Good Doing It!
There is no reason you can’t practice salsa without a partner. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to get better at salsa dancing. Yes, salsa is a partner dance, but you absolutely must be able to hold your own if you want to have fun, free your mind and be in the moment.
To prove anyone can benefit from some good old fashioned solo practice, I present you with…
10 Things You Should Practice Without a Salsa Partner
- Developing Your Timing & Awareness of Music
- Your Basic Steps
- Body Movement
- Turn Technique
- Layering Your Skills Together
- Film Yourself Regularly
- Practice Partner Shadowing
- Memorize Your Steps
- Watch Great Dancers Do Their Thing
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#1 Developing Timing & Awareness of Music
At a basic level, this is your ability to dance on beat so you can communicate with your partner and execute movements on time. As you improve your ability to recognize rhythms, instruments, and song structure you’ll find yourself able to start reflecting that expression in your dancing and be more playful. In essence, timing is a foundational element of being able dance with a partner and musicality is what brings that dance to life. If you struggle with finding the beat and dancing on time, I’ve created a really helpful resource just for you. Check out this mini YouTube video course on “Finding the Beat”. it’s a four-part series and it will radically help you improve your ability to find and dance on beat within 30 days, so go check it out.
#2 Mastering Your Basic Steps
This is like learning to walk. These are the foundational steps to everything in salsa. You can never practice your basics enough. So get crackin’ and make sure you evaluate yourself along the way. make sure you can…
- Do your salsa basics on time
- Do you basics in all directions (front/back, side to side, diagnolly, crossing over to the front and the back)
- Switch between each basic step without hesitation
- Stylize your basics with taps and touches
Shines are the footwork that you use beyond just your basic steps. And practicing footwork will help you refine your timing, stepping, and pivoting techniques. Since there are only so many ways you can move your feet, the same steps you learn solo will often appear in your partner work. That means the more shines you know and get comfortable with, the more you’ll start feeling better both dancing solo and with a partner. Through working on shines, you’ll also learn how to step to different rhythms beyond the basic timing. This helps expand your awareness and understanding of the dance and your skills overall
#4 Body Movement
This is really where the magic happens. Let’s take a look at some basics. (Refering to 2:58 in the above video) So here’s a basic with no body movement. Now here’s a basic with some body movement and now here’s a basic with serious body movement. There’s not much else to say. Body movement is that wow factor, that secret sauce, that flavor that makes dance so amazing to watch. When I started to improve my body movement, I really started having so much more fun. I felt way more connected to the music because I was able to express myself to it. Now, body movement is still one of my greatest weaknesses but it’s definitely my focus right now because I realized it doesn’t only make you look better, it feels so much better. It’s what brings everything to life. It makes you look good, it makes you feel good, and not just to you but to your partner as well. That’s because body movement is actually technique. And when you move correctly, you’re leading and following will feel much more smooth, connected, and impressive.
#5 Turn Technique
Turn technique is what holds most beginner follows back from being able to execute smooth and controlled turns. And it’s what holds most leads back from being able to lead the turns smoothly because they’re leading them on the incorrect timing. Dial your turns in because it’s the fastest way to improve both as a experienced beginner lead and follow. It’s going to make your dances so much more enjoyable too
#6 Layering Your Skills Together
So you’re going to want to practice all the individual concepts I’ve already mentioned on their own before getting into layering. But once you have your timing, your basics, some simple shines, some body movement, and some turn technique, you want to start layering them on top of each other to bring the package together and make your dancing more complete.
To start layering these techniques and skills together, begin with your basics. Once you have your basics down, start trying to add your body movements in. Once you can do that, take some simple shines and then try and add body movement into those shines. Now, the important thing to remember here is that you shouldn’t do complex footwork at this point because it’s going to complicate things too much. As you’re trying to add this layer of body movement on top it’s going to be much harder to even do the simplest of shines.
Next up, once you’re comfortable adding body movement to some simple shines, add a turn or two in there and then see if you can add body movement on top of that. Once your execution improves, you can focus on doing each of these things and connect deeper to music. Try playing a song. As it plays, think about and feel how the energy of the song changes from the intro through the verse and into the next section. How does it make you feel, and how are you going to express those changes in the song with your movement? Now remember: Layering these skills on top of each other is a very step by step progressive process. Some days you might feel like you’re a few steps ahead and otherdays you might feel like you’re taking a few steps back. But if you focus on all these individual elements and then layer them on top of each other one by one being very compassionate with yourself and starting very simple, you’re going to see results over time
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Alright, so you’ve mastered a few of the basics and started layering some of these skills on top of each other. What’s the next progression in your journey, you ask?
More Ways to Progress Your Solo Salsa Practice
#7 Film Yourself Regularly
When practicing alone, the camera is your best friend and you are your biggest critic. Before getting started, try and have at least one video clip of yourself dancing with a partner so you can analyze what you need to work on.
How to approach critiquing your dancing:
- Watch the video all the way through without thinking. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.
- Watch the video a second time and identify the parts of the dance that don’t quite look right. Maybe you fumbled your steps, your partner didn’t respond well to your lead, or you had an otherwise awkward moment. Figure out what caused that awkwardness and write it down.
- Keep a list of your “mess ups” and find out what your biggest weakness is. Some examples could be stumbling in your footwork, unclear lead/follow technique, poor timing etc.
- Choose one of the skills from your list of ‘mess ups’ and focus on it during your upcoming practice sessions. Every now and then, re-film yourself and see how you’re improving on your skill of choice.
- Repeat the process of weakness identification, analysis and practice until you are happy with the progress you’ve made.
- Celebrate when you see improvement!
#8 Practice Partner Shadowing
Shadowing is basically running through a move or pattern from start to finish while pretending to dance with a partner. It might feel a little lonely, but it’s a great way to drill your technique without the distraction of a partner. Quite often, when you’re learning something new, you’ll pay too much attention to what your partner is doing and forget what you should be concentrating on. When shadowing, you can make sure your posture, movement, lead/follow technique, and footwork are all dialed in before moving on to a partner.
Shadowing is more of an intermediate technique and will get easier and easier the more Salsa experience you have. If you’re a beginner, feel free to give it a try, but don’t get discouraged if you can’t quite visualize the hand holds and (your ghost partner’s) body positioning while starting out.
#9 Memorize Your Steps
Dancing is a language. You have to learn your vocabulary before writing a sentence and perfect your sentence writing before crafting a letter.
In the same way, you have to master Salsa steps before combining them into a pattern and master patterns before social dancing. Everything in dance is modular. Without the vocabulary, you have no building blocks to build your masterpiece.
So what can you do to make this masterpiece more masterful? Memorize your moves! Increase your potential by having as many building blocks as you can. If you forget your moves, your social dance will crumble.
If you’re really keen to try this, create a list of all the steps you know (perhaps categorizing them by skill level or technique will help you remember them). Every once in a while, re-visit the list and see how many of the moves you can perform from memory. If you find yourself forgetting some, then that’s a good time to start jogging your memory.
The moves you have locked in your memory are your home base – your safe place. From there, you can slowly add steps to your arsenal and expand your vocabulary.
#10 Watch Great Dancers Do Their Thing
Watching others dance is a great strategy to tie into your camera critique. You already know what skill you want to improve on, so now you need to find someone who’s great at it and study them.
Go out for a night of social dancing and take a break in between dances. Glue your eyes to the dance floor and identify someone who looks like they really know what they’re doing. How does their movement compare to yours? Try to ignore their personal style and focus on the technical movement. Pay close attention to how they connect with their partner, move their body, flow between steps and respond to the music. While watching, focus on the movement that’s related to the skill you are trying to improve. Watching everything they do is fine, but ‘everything’ can be overwhelming to think about. Having a focus will help you find the key takeaways to fast track your improvement.
After your secret spy session, remember one or two takeaways that you can try next time you practice. Rinse and repeat this process for each skill you want to improve. Remember to use your camera to keep tabs on your progress.
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How To Dance Salsa For Beginners: Free Online Classes
Getting Started With The Salsa Basics
Once inside the course choose PARTNER WORK and select the ABSOLUTE BEGINNER LEVEL.
Here’s what you’ll learn…
Learn from 3X Canadian Salsa Champs and World Salsa Summit Medalists, Patrick and Scarlet.
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Part I: Beginner Salsa Steps
Lesson 1: Side Basic, Front-Back Basic & Closed Hold
We’ll get you moving with some basic steps and show you how to begin connecting with your partner in the classic closed hold. It’s an exciting beginning!
Lesson 2: Back Basic, Cumbia Basic & Open Hold
After this set of basic steps you’ll have a solid idea of how to move in different directions all while keeping time with salsa music.
Lesson 3: Putting Your Basics Together
Here we bring all your basics together so you can play around and get used to switching between them.
Lesson 4: A Tip for Your Basics
We can’t reveal all of our secrets here now can we?
Part II: Beginner Salsa Turns
Lesson 5: Basic Right Turn & 5 Turn Pattern
The right turn is the first turn you learn in salsa and it’s the foundation for learning double turns. In this lesson you’ll learn 5 handhold variations for the right turn so you can drill it and get it in your muscle memory.
Lesson 6: Cross Body Lead
Although it’s a move within itself, soon you’ll use the cross body lead (CBL) to bridge moves together. It’s essential to linear “night club style” salsa and it’s the foundation for many moves – be sure to perfect it over time.
Lesson 7: Change of Place
The Change of Place uses your Cumbia Basic to switch places with your partner. The more comfortable you are with it the better. In the Experienced Beginner series, you’ll learn more moves that that are based on the Change of Place.
Part III: Beginner Salsa Combinations
Lesson 8: Four Basics with Cross Body Leads
In this pattern, we challenge you to use your Cross Body Lead to transition between your four basics. Once you get it down, you can switch up the order in any way you like.
Lesson 9: Five Turn Pattern with Cross Body Leads
It’s time to insert the Cross Body Lead into your five turn pattern. Adding in cross body leads helps break things up, making your dancing feel more interesting, dynamic and spontaneous.
Lesson 10: Change of Place with Cross Body Leads
As you’re starting to see, the Cross Body lead is a great way to transition in and out of the different moves you do, including the Change of Place. Once you’re comfortable using the CBL to bridge moves together, then we can increase the difficulty.
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Salsa Timing for Beginners
There are two core concepts that differentiate salsa from other latin dances: timing and rhythm.
Salsa timing refers to the counts, or beats, of the music that you step on and salsa rhythm refers to the body movement you create between each step.
Types of Salsa Timing
1. Basic salsa timing
The counts of music you step on are 1-2-3, 5-6-7.
It takes 8 beats to do your basic step but notice how there is no step on 4 or 8?
That’s because the rhythm of the movement is quick, quick, slow; quick, quick, slow. Counts 4 and 8 are used to draw out your body movement and create the “slow” parts of the rhythm.
Using counts 1-2-3, 5-6-7 you can dance salsa in a couple ways…
2. What is dancing “On 1”?
When someone says “I dance salsa On 1” it means they start dancing on the first beat of the bar of music – “the 1” – the first count.
When dancing On 1 you start dancing on the 1, and your break steps (steps used to change directions) are on the 1 and the 5.
Dancing On 1 is the most common salsa timing used around the world, but it still depends where you live. Ask around to other dancers or studios what’s most common timing in your area.
3. What is dancing “On 2”?
When someone says “I dance salsa On 2” it means they start dancing on the second beat of the bar of music – “the 2” – the second count.
When dancing On 2 you start dancing on the 2, and your break steps are the 2 and the 6.
It’s important to know there are various ways of dancing On 2, but the most common way, popularized by Eddie Torres in New York, is what we’ve just told you: step on counts 1-2-3, 5-6-7 with break steps on 2 and 6.
Dancing salsa On 2 is often called “mambo” because it has roots in the original mambo dance which was danced on 2.
4. Is the style of dancing On 1 different than dancing On 2?
Let’s make a distinction…
There’s a difference between Timing and Style:
Timing refers to which counts of music you step on.
Style is a visual aesthetic that you give your dancing.
If you dance on 1 or on 2 you can dance the exact same way and do all the same moves, you just change where your steps are with respect to the 8 count of music.
Learn more about The Difference Between Dancing Salsa On 1 and On 2 here.
In our online Salsa Course, all lessons are taught on 1 and on 2 timing so you can choose which ever you like, or learn both!
The different styles of salsa is another topic entirely.1.1. These Rules are an official document of IP Sobiray Pavel Evgenievich (hereinafter referred to as the Site Administration), and determine the procedure for processing and protecting information about individuals using the services of the bachata-salsa.ru/ website (hereinafter referred to as the Site) and its services (hereinafter referred to as users).
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12 Life hacks to quickly learn how to dance from Mamita Dance
Author: Pavel Gather
Psychologist, Teacher of Salsa and Tango
Author: Pavel Pavel Pavel Psychologist, teacher of salsa and tango
At the start, you always want to get a quick result. When it doesn't happen, the hypothesis arises that everything takes time. After a conditionally acceptable time, humility comes to mastering pair dances, which, perhaps, is not given, and I will just do what I learned somehow.
This is the most common story of those who believe that the mere act of attending a pair dance class is enough to learn how to dance.
Absolutely not. If you want to really dance well, you have to make an effort outside of the dance class. A good teacher will definitely be needed, but the initiative should be on your side.
1. Listen to music
The most common and accessible advice that is given already in the first lessons. And it definitely works. Music creates a certain atmosphere of the dance and intuitively you want to move to it. It doesn't matter where you listen to music - in the car, on headphones while walking or doing household chores.
An addition that will help you dance better is your active participation in the music. Sing along, dance or simply beat musical accents with any free parts of the body. In the subway, for example, it is enough to tap out bright moments with your fingers, in the car to sing along with sounds, and at home you can jump for pleasure.
2. Watch videos of good dancers
It's complicated, but also obvious. It’s more difficult, because without recommendations from more experienced dancers, unfortunately, it’s not so easy to find a good quality video on the net (I mean not the resolution quality, but the content itself).
Meaningful viewing of the video is to form an understanding of HOW the dancers make this or that impression on the partner or the viewer. Technology is at the heart of everything. Understanding how the pros do it is a big step forward.
It is important to distinguish a show from a disco dance, a staged number from an improvisation, a stylized dance from an authentic one, etc. Ask for recommendations and dance teachers will always throw off a couple of videos of worthy landmarks.
Tango Z. Showreel.
Online modern tango courses
Tango nuevo is the most advanced version of tango. We can quickly learn to dance from zero to a steep level.
3. Dance in salsatecas/milongas/discotheques
A very delicate moment when it is worth coming to the first party. From a technical point of view, most students in 1-3 months have a sufficient set of figures and techniques to come and dance calmly. Psychologically, the same moment can be stretched out for an indefinite time. After all, it is imperative to “not lose face”, “learn more figures” and be sure what to do in case “there is an unfamiliar movement”.
In fact, the partygoers don't really care (except for a small layer of non-professional teachers who want to help inexperienced dancers by treating them as customers in the future). It is important to come and try dancing after a month of classes. You can only with friends or guys from your group. This will be enough to feel the adrenaline and inspiration from the dance.
4. Dance with partners or partners not of your level
The conventional wisdom that you need to practice in groups of your level does not stand up to the test of experience. Perhaps now your eyes widened in surprise, and you want to meaningfully read the phrase again. Yes, you saw everything correctly: when you dance with a partner of your level, you don’t grow anywhere.
It's important to understand that not only does it work one way and you have to dance with cooler dancers, but it works even more effectively the other way. It is no coincidence that teaching pair dances dramatically raises the level of the teacher himself. You have an endless stream of very beginner dancers.
How it works. A more experienced partner needs to be "stretched". It's easy and obvious. With beginners, you need to take more initiative on yourself, see the general pattern of the dance more widely, turn on and insure more, try to be an example and be more careful. The quality of interaction begins to grow significantly. And wonderful partners too.
Dancing with partners of your level doesn't make you grow. Dance with beginners and more advanced dancers
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5. Learn to dance for a partner and for a partner
Turks and Argentines are one of the best partners in the world. In Russia, partners are highly valued. Why? The answer is simple. In Argentina and Turkey, it is not questionable for men to ask another man to lead in one piece or another and give feedback on the quality of the lead. For them, it will be a great shame to hear moralizing from a partner, or even more so to be known in the community as an insecure partner.
In Russia, due to the constant, often far-fetched opinion that there are more women in pair dances, partners calmly get up and study their partner's part. Such partners then grow into very cool dancers and teachers. In no case do this at parties, only in class. Here we are talking only about the learning strategy. At parties, be yourself.
6. Do not memorize the links
Always try to look deeper and understand the through principle and idea of movement. Understanding what and how is done will make it possible to independently generate any sequences and chips.
Human memory is limited and there will always be a moment when something will escape and your repertoire will be limited by the size of RAM.
In Argentine tango, for example, there are seven levels of movement construction that, when mastered, will allow you to make millions of combinations. And how many dance sequences can you really remember? In rueda, more than 150 figures dance in a rare circle. It's hard to keep more in mind.
7. Develop your body
Many years of experience in teaching partner dance shows that as soon as everyone pairs up in a class, any progress in individual style ends. But it is the individual style that distinguishes everyone at the disco: partners change, and style is always with you.
The body as the main instrument of dance must be very plastic, responsive and emotional. Surprisingly, not all pair dance schools have a general physical warm-up. It is vital to tune the body and understand how it works.
You can always train extra and concentrate more on the basic steps, as their true value is as body work. The sequence of steps is, in fact, the simplest thing that can be in pair dancing. The quality of individual performance determines the craftsmanship.
8. Try on the images of inspiring dancers
A psychological life hack for those who have already mastered the steps, but still feel that there is not enough brightness and drive. Most are terribly afraid of being someone else's "clone". Here the action is the same as under the influence of hypnosis - the more you resist, the more you plunge into an altered state of consciousness.
With a high degree of probability, you are already dancing like someone else's "clone". A meaningful fitting of someone else's image is that you mentally take the image of the one who inspires you (inspiration is critical in this case) and "put on" yourself. Then you start dancing and trying to feel in general how it is to be able, for example, to be the best partner or the sexiest partner in a disco. This is much more difficult than it seems. But it works extremely efficiently.
9. Dance to unformatted music
Habitual rhythms keep you in tight limits. Tango salon or speedy timba leave little room for experimentation and fantasy. Pattern dancing is always noticeable and is reserved for beginners.
The truly new is born outside of the usual. Look for places to experiment. If there is no place, organize self-training. The main thing is not to get carried away, because music determines the style. We bring something new to pair dances, rather than trying to change them.
Search, improvise, don't be afraid to go beyond, develop in different directions, be inspired by music atypical for the style
10. Try your hand at basic dance directions
dances exist according to their own non-choreographic laws.
This is the deepest delusion, which has turned into a ceiling for the qualitative development of pair dances. After all, all professional dancers, for example, in salsa or bachata, build their ideas on the basic choreographic principles.
Do not think that choreography is applicable only on stage. Any meaningful movement of the body can be choreographic. In general, try classical or modern choreography. Basically, hip-hop can work too.
11. Look for battle sensations
Pair dances return us to an active position of manifestation of our body. As in the days of our ancient ancestors, we impress the members of the opposite sex by how dexterous, hardy, sexy, etc. we are. Modern laws of the jungle in the entourage of big cities.
If you look around the dance floor, it becomes clear that the majority are clearly herbivores (not in the sense of vegetarians, but in relation to those around them). I am sure that predators are always more interesting in terms of the attractiveness of the image - try to find a counterbalance among herbivores, for example, a cat woman or a lion man.
The conversation is about an internal position, not about aggressiveness. Lability and lack of control are inherent in adolescents, and not in adult self-sufficient people.
Accordingly, even a training or friendly battle gives, on the one hand, practical skills - to make a bright sequence of movements, bring an idea to a climax, show a spectacular feature, on the other hand, develops the psychological basis of the dance - self-confidence, resistance to extraneous attention, self-control and self-control in complex elements.
12. Communicate with professionals
The environment shapes the internal position. Basically, real passionaries of the dance community are ready to openly talk, discuss and support the development of dance in every possible way.