As I get more experienced, it’s becoming much easier to detect how good someone is based on their salsa basic. For those who are new to the dance, the Salsa basic is term used to describe your standard 6-step back-and-forth stepping pattern. By learning how to step as well as adding a bit of flair; you too can take your basic from beginner to salsero.
How To Step:
Stepping as a walker is simple, we do it all the time. Stepping as a dancer, is much trickier. What’s the difference? Stepping to walk, is usually a flat-footed affair. While it makes walking quite easy, it looks ‘clunky’ when you dance this way. What you want to learn is how to step like a dancer… or what I call, the ‘tiger step’.
What I mean by this is that you should aim to land the ball of your foot first, and then roll out to the rest of the foot to complete the step. I call this the ‘tiger step’ because it makes you look like you’re perfectly balanced and ready to pounce; much like a stealthy, wild Tiger.
When I first tried to learn the ‘Tiger Step’, I had a lot of trouble because I didn’t have the proper ankle/arch/calf strength. What I did to correct this (and still do to this day), is to do ‘calf raises whenever I can. Here’s a good video to get you started:
Stepping More Naturally:
Once you have the Tiger Step down, do your basic in front of a mirror. Do you see how you’re stepping? Usually you step forward and then return your foot to the center, parallel to your other foot. While this technique is good for learning, you really want to always keep your feet slightly not-parallel. When I mean is that when you return your foot on count 3, try to keep that slightly behind your other foot. What this does is help smooth out your basic movement. It also makes moving through more difficult moves later on.
A natural tendency for most new dancers is also to bounce while they step. While it’s very natural to bounce while you walk, it’s not a slick to bob while you’re dancing Salsa. I remember seeing an old movie where they teach young ladies to walk ‘with grace’ by balancing a book on their heads. While I didn’t try this, I always picture that a book is balancing while I dance.
TightRope Tiger Step:
Now that you have your steps staggered and that you’re stepping like a jungle cat, it’s time to add the tightrope. What I mean by this is that when you step, think that each step you take is on a tight rope. Picture the ball of your foot stepping forward, so that both your feet are on a slender tightrope. When you step back, bring your foot back slightly behind the other, still on the same tight rope.
This will give your basic a really sauve feel, making you look more balanced as well as feeling like a tiger.
Here’s a great video from Addicted2salsa about how to take your basic to the next level:
Here’s to Stepping like a tiger.
Stay Shining Salsero!