Toronto Salsa: How to be a better follower in Salsa
During our Salsa Nightclub Level 1 classes, we mention that the best followers are the best listeners. They are attentive and pay attention the cues of their leader and create a space where magic can happen. So as an instructor, I had to learn to be a follower and of all the tricks I have learned, here are my top 3 “How to be a better follower in Salsa”
A great follower is always slightly behind a leader, the better the follower, the more micro the delay is. So think of it this way, imagine you meet a friend and you want to share about your day. Every time you try to finish your sentence, they interrupt you and try to finish it for you. Sounds annoying no…I think we all have met a person like that. Well as a follower, you are actually always meant to be late. You can practice by closing your eyes the next time you follow. We do this at our school and at first the followers get nervous but by the end, they are surprised at how quickly they can finally feel their partner.
Hand, Body, then the Foot
When you do Hip Hop, Ballet, Jazz, or really any style of dance that is solo, you lead first with your body, then your foot comes along for the ride. Think about it this way, when someone taps you on the shoulder, you turn with your torso and then your feet come along. Well as a follower in Salsa, you are connected to your partner with your hands. So even a basic turn will get better if you let your hand (think it’s your compass) go first, then your body twists and then your feet will come along for the ride. Hard to master but amazing once you get good at it. I call it the top-down method. Next time you are following, focus on Hand, Torso and then Foot. It will make a world of difference.
Know your Salsa counts
As a follower, you are asked to listen, be late, be patient, don’t overthink and stay in the present. The only trouble is, much later (usually in Level 2,3) you start to focus on knowing the Salsa counts yourself. So I always encourage my followers in Level 1 to practice counting. This way, you know just as well as the leader, where WHICH foot should be on which count. The leader may direct you to a specific place but it’s on the follower to land the correct foot (left or right). Start simple with this rule. As a follower, your Right foot always moves on 1 and your Left foot always moves on 5. (This is based on L.A. Style On1 Salsa of course). How do you get better, just count out loud.
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