When Teachers Tell You Different
Salsa is not a stylized dance dicipline with a fixed syllabus and technique everybody agrees upon. Although this is
essentially what keeps salsa evolving, it creates a few problems.
Every student eventually encounters the situation where he
or she gets seemingly conflicting advice. Most teachers have their own interpretations and methods on how things
should be done, according to what they have been taught and what works for them. There are different reasons for
why you can get conflicting advice from different teachers:
Sometimes the advice simply belongs to a certain style, either more or less agreed upon like "New York
Style" or simply the personal style of the teacher. The beauty of salsa is that it is very creative and
expressive, so people are bound to experiment and also mix in elements from other dance
Often you'll find that teachers use different words to describe ideas and concepts, but essentially they mean the
same thing. It is difficult to agree upon the descriptive words, since everybodys understanding varies
according to their previous knowledge.
Depending On Skill Level
A good teacher will often teach different things to different levels of abilities to the extend that he will
over-simplify or even deliberatly teach things "wrongly", since the detailed concept would be too much for a
beginner. Later on the more advanced dancer will be confronted with seemingly opposite rules and explanations, that
are merely more "expanded" concepts.
Depending On What You Want To Do
Often teachers give "rules of thumb" to drive a concept home, but things are rarely black and white. The
more advanced dancers know that "rules" almost always have to be adapted and adjusted, sometimes bend or even
broken. It often just depends on the situation and what you want to do. An example could be differences
in leading: while doing a basic step you only need a light lead, preparing for a tripple spin needs a little
bit more force.
Ideally teachers have experimented themselves with different advice and found what works and what
doesn't. That can also be a very personal thing. A tall dancer will need a slightly different technical
aproach to spins than a shorter dancer. Because of previous dance training or the lack of it you
might prefer one technique over the over. Depending on what other difficulties you have or are compensating for one
thing just simply might work better for you than another.
Always Ask Why
How To Handle Contradictory Advice
When you hear one teacher contradicting what you've heard from another previously, ask him or
her why they teach it that way. A good teacher should be able to give a reason why he or she is doing something a
certain way. But don't be disappointed when the teacher can't answer you, since most salsa teachers have
learned something a certain way and then started to simply teach it without questioning the
Find What Works For
As stated above, a lot of things depend on previous training, overall ability, body type, or simply personal
preferences. Always try what your teachers are telling you, but eventually you will settle for one way over the
other. Go for what makes sense to you and what creates ease in your dancing. But also be prepared to change
your approach later on if you find it more congruent with your own experiences.