It’s Aleks, your friendly neighborhood instructor and director of Toronto Dance Salsa and I love, love, love this question. If you have salsa experience, how do you know with which level to start?
The fastest answer to this question is that you should book an assessment with an instructor. It only takes about 15 minutes and it’s free! You come into the studio and get to check out the studio and meet your instructor. You will dance with the instructor for a few minutes and he/she will be able to assess what level you should be in. The rest of the time will be spent planning how you should join. Maybe you should join level 1 because there are some skills or techniques that are missing or maybe you should jump into level 2, 3, 4 or 5.
It is not about the levels. The ultimate goal is for you and your partner to feel great while dancing. If you are coming in solo (as most of our students do) then it is an awful feeling when you feel you are not at the same level as the rest of the class or maybe you have much more experience than your classmates and you need more of a challenge.
Personally, I have assessed people who have lots of experience and feel like they should be in level 6, but after their assessment, they are in level 2. I have assessed others who have little experience but somehow they were able to soak up everything very quickly (unlike me!) and are clearly in level 4. So it is not about the levels. It is about having a good experience – for both you and your classmates.
Here is a quick breakdown of each level and what you should know to go to the next level.
Level 1 – No experience necessary. Open to everyone, including those with 2 left feet. Bring a sense of adventure and fun. In level 1 both leaders and followers learned crossbody lead, crossbody lead turns, right turns, basic combinations and reverse (or left) turns.
Level 2 – In level 2, the focus is turn patterns and variations. We learn basic styling and checks (where you send your partner one way and then reverse direction). There is also a focus on more advanced crossbody lead turns and free turns. You also get introduced to shines, where you do solo moves while dancing with a partner.
Level 3 – The focus of level 3 is power. We learn double turns and a critical move for the leaders called a breakback, where you can build a ton of power. Leaders are able to turn their partner behind their back.
Level 4 – This level focuses more on tricks like the lasso and double turns leading into more intermediate moves and combinations.
Level 5 – Smoothness is the focus of level 5 and includes moves like the Coca-Cola, which is a standard move for all advanced salsa dancers.
Level 6 – We are bringing everything together. We do triple turns, tricks, musicality, and choreography.
If you have gone social dancing for a while, and have some experience, most students range from level 2 to level 5. But instead of guessing and then feeling like you are in the wrong class, please, please, please book an assessment. Email us at [email protected] and we will set up a time. We also work very hard at keeping the numbers of leaders and followers balanced, so if you join without an assessment and then decide it is the wrong class for you, it is sometimes difficult to balance numbers.
Regardless, the most important thing is that you have a great experience and you feel like you #belong on the dance floor, at Toronto Dance Salsa and with your classmates.
We love you so much and we cannot wait to meet you in person. I hope you are having an amazing day and I will see you on the dance floor very soon.
Remember if you have more questions please contact me! There are so many more tips that I want to share with you! If you have a question, please message me on Instagram (torontodancesalsa), on Twitter (#torontodancesalsa), on Facebook (Toronto Dance Salsa) or email me at [email protected].