Mistakes to Avoid as a Salsa Beginner

Every Salsa beginner makes mistakes, that’s how we learn. But there are some common mistakes that you can avoid. I wasn’t told these when I started to dance – I wish someone had told me! But I’m going to share the secrets to make your Salsa experience even better.

Don’t Look at the Gas Pedal

When you learn to drive do you look at the road ahead of you or do you look at the gas pedal? You look at the road ahead or else you will crash. Dancing Salsa is the same. Don’t look down at your feet or you will crash.

You will pick up the steps faster if you feel your feet and the ground – build that muscle memory and connect with your body. It’s automatic – we look when we feel stuck. It’s hard not to look. I’m an overthinker. I’m a planner. I need every minute detail to be explained to me because that’s how I learned and yet as I’ve continued to grow as a dancer and instructor, I keep finding that the fastest way to learn is to feel it instead of see it. So the first mistake beginning Salsa dancers must avoid is looking down.

Unlock Your Potential by Unlocking your Knees and Hips

I’m not talking about hip movement or that sexy, Latin sway that we all want when we dance. I’m talking about being grounded. Imagine you’re going ice skating, You’re about to step on the ice. You will automatically unlock your knees to stay smooth and balanced on the slippery ice. That’s how you should be dancing.

My rule of thumb is to bend your knees so you shrink down about an inch or an inch and a half. Let’s say you are five foot six (that’s me on a good day). Bend your knees and tilt your hips slightly down so you are now about five foot four and a half. This brings the centre of your body down closer to the ground. You will not only learn faster, but it’s easier. Latin dancing is about being grounded and closer to the earth. Don’t lock your knees is the second mistake beginner Salsa dancers must avoid.

Count Out Loud

I wish someone had said to me, Aleks, the more you count those steps out loud as you are practicing the faster you will learn. So remember it is one, two, three, pause on four, five, six, seven and pause on eight. We’re better at learning when we say it out loud. Think about doing a presentation. No matter how many times you read your notes, unless you practice and say them out loud it doesn’t feel like it becomes your own. That’s the rule I apply in dance. Don’t be embarrassed to count out loud when practicing in class. I encourage all my students to do it in all my classes. When you verbalize, you internalize. I mean if it rhymes it makes sense, right? Staying silent is the final mistake beginner Salsa dancers should avoid.

I hope these tips help you to feel more comfortable on the dance floor and avoid some of the mistakes I made.

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