HOW TO DO BETTER SALSA TURNS
When you look at a four minutes Salsa song, the thing you and your partner will do the most are right turns. Although they are basic moves, the better you execute them, the more confident you’ll feel as a dancer, and more dancers will want to dance with you.
Over the years, I’ve learned many tricks, but I want to boil them down to three simple things you can do to make your Salsa turns significantly better.
You will immediately see a difference if you practice this daily for a couple of minutes.
Tip 1: Training with your core.
When my instructor told me to turn with my core, I asked, what is the core?.
He struggled to explain it, but It simply means turning with your belly button.
A quick way to practice this is to take your left foot forward, but instead of pushing with your foot, you need to twist your belly button. Then, twist and do a half-turn to your right.
By twisting your belly button and not putting so much pressure on your left foot, you’ll find that you have more power and speed than you ever thought.
One quick way to understand the sequence of the movement is to think about your reaction when someone calls your name; you turn with your body, and then your feet come along.
The same sequence of movement applies to Salsa turns.
Tip 2: Turn on the ball of your foot, not your toes.
Many dancers put their weight on their toes when doing a turn. To avoid this common beginner and intermediate dancer’s mistake, you must learn to turn on the ball of your foot.
Unlike in Ballet, when you’re doing turns in many dances, including Bachata and Salsa, you want to turn the ball of your foot.
The best way to practice this is to imagine the big toe of your right foot, and as you’re bringing your feet together, slide your weight and lift your heel so that it’s not your toes that are supporting you but that little part right beneath your big toe which supporting your weight.
In general, your weight should be at your center when you’re doing turns. Otherwise, when you put your weight on your toes, you’re always trying not to fall at the same time.
So as you’re spinning, practice turning with your belly button and keep in mind that your weight should be on the ball of your foot, not your toes.
Tip three: Suck your ankles in.
Remember, in high school and Math class, and you had to learn to use a protractor, a tool with two legs, one with a sharp needle and the other with a pencil attached to it.
One leg of the device would stand firm in the paper while the other remains apart to enable you to draw a circle.
So you’re turning with your belly button, doing a half turn and staying in the ball of your foot. Now you need to complete your entire turn.
To do it, you press your ankles instead of picking up your foot and dragging it, ending with your feet apart as a protractor.
This separation between our legs should not happen at the end of our turns. Instead, we need to finish with our feet together.
As essential as this is, you would be surprised at how many intermediate and even advanced dancers make this mistake.
Imagine that as you’re turning, while wearing a skirt/kilt and you don’t want everybody to see what’s underneath as you spin.
Therefore you squeeze your ankles and keep your legs tight at the end.
Doing this also helps with extra momentum.
As a student, I was obsessed with learning tricks, dips, and fancy moves. I thought that was what would make me look fabulous and feel confident. But despite all the fancy moves learned from YouTube, I still felt stiff and awkward.
My problem was that I didn’t have a good foundation. But when I started to get to knitting gritty, I began to feel confident.
After twelve years of dancing, I’m continually improving my Salsa; my right turns, my left turns, and all the basic foundations. I have grown more as a dancer in the last two years than in many previous years.
So just know that the game is infinite. There’s always something you can improve; as long as you’ve got the patience and love, you can always get better.
Keep practicing, and hopefully, I’ll see you at a dance.
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