Three Mistakes To Avoid As A Beginner

When I was a student, I wish I was told not to do these things. What pitfalls and mistakes can you avoid that I wish I was told when I was learning to dance Salsa?  I’m gonna tell you the secrets of the three mistakes to avoid as a beginner.

Don’t look at the gas pedal.

Imagine, you’re learning to drive. You are a little nervous and overwhelmed, but you are sitting in the driver’s seat. The steering wheel is in your hands, the dashboard is lit up and the windscreen is right in front of you. You turn on the car, put it in drive  and immediately look at the gas and brake pedals. Chances are you’re not going to go far without crashing if you never look at the road.

That’s how dancing works. 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.

Don’t lock your hips and knees – unlock your potential.

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 because you know how slippery the ice is. That’s how you should be dancing. My rule of thumb is 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 be silent – count your steps.

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 it 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?

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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