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Get The Most Out Of Salsa Classes

No matter what kind of salsa classes you take, be it group classes, privates or workshops at congresses, there are a few tips and tricks to get the most out of them.

Weekly Salsa Classes / Group Classes

Be on time – coming to a class already stressed out is not a good start.

Classes are not a time to show off what you already know – you’re here to learn. If you’re not on stage, don’t worry about how you look. Being concerned about how you do things in class will inhibit your learning process, so don’t bother if you plan on becoming a good dancer!

Do not get hung up in what your partner is doing. In most classes you will rotatate partners, which can make things a little harder when you’re still learning the new move. If your partner is doing things wrong, you can politely point it out to him or her (ask before you give unwanted advice!), but don’t get stuck on his progress. You’re in class to learn yourself, not to teach others.

When you’re in class, focus on just that. Don’t let your mind wander off to irrelevant things. Concentrate on what the teacher is saying, and try to absorb as much as you can. Always listen when the teacher is saying something, stop your own practicing or discussing with your partner. Good teachers give a lot of tidbits of information during a class that often are missed by the students because they were busy with something else.

Ask questions! Asking if you haven't understood something or to further clarify things should be the norm in every class, yet most people are afraid to ask questions for fear of looking stupid. Stupid is only the one who pays money for a class and then pretends he knows everthing already. You are there to learn, and that usually comes with asking questions. Besides, a lot of people will thank you for asking the questions they didn't dare to pose... It's always funny to see a student wanting to know a detail and then half the room going "Yes, please explain!"

After class: learning some new moves in class will not guarantee that you will be able to execute that move next week when you come back to class. It takes a lot of practice for a move to flow naturally. Make it a habit to practice what you learnt in class right after you come home if possible, and the next day. Often already when you come home you will notice that you have difficulties to recall what you did an hour earlier. That’s normal, so make sure you practice a move until it becomes seccond nature. Ideally don’t learn something new before you have integrated the old.

Salsa Workshops

Workshops can be intense, since they are meant to cover a lot of material in a short amount of time. Often technique is covered more in depth in workshops, or the focus is entirely on a technical topic. Make sure you have a way to retain all the information, either by filming the round-up in the end or by writing things down.

Private Classes

If you're taking private classes, keep a few things in mind. A private is meant to be feedback, so feedback you will get. Sometimes a little more direct and honest than you would like. Don’t expect your teacher to praise you on your abilities. He or she will pick on the things that are not working or that can use some polishing. Privates can be very intense and require you to work hard, but they are the best way to become good fast.

Congresses & Festivals

A salsa congress is a great opportunity to learn new things and meet great teachers. But in order to get the most out of a congress make sure you keep a few things in mind.

Don’t take too many classes! That is the biggest mistake people make. They take all the classes they can get and in the end they remember nothing of what they learned. I recommend not taking more than 2-3 classes a day, and even that can mean pushing it. Be sure to have breaks between the classes so you can go through what you’ve just learned. Take a camera with you to video tape either the teacher and/or yourself doing the move afterwards.

Before you go: check out the classes and teachers that you want to take beforehand. Go to Youtube and check out the videos of the different teachers that will be at the congress. That will spare you a lot of wasted classes.

If possible, come to a congress with a partner (at many congresses you have to...). You can practice in between classes and after you come home.

Be early! Most classes at congresses are chokeful of people and when you end up in the back you’re lost. Many teachers will rotate the rows, but not all of them. A nice place to be is at the outside corner of the stage/front.

Pace yourself. A congress is a tough weekend which is gonna cost you a lot of energy. Make sure you drink a lot and don’t forget to eat. Try to have little snacks with you, they will get you through the low bloodsugar levels.

Salsa Videos - Youtube/Dvds

You can learn a lot from Youtube or dvds, but ...

It can be very difficult to distinguish between good and downright bad instruction if you don't know what you need to look for. Especially as a beginner it it easy to be fooled by some charismatic teacher who seems to know what he's doing, only later to find out that he simply didn't.

Not all salsa videos are created equal. Make sure the videos you're learning from are clear and concise in their explanations. If you have to rewind three times just to understand what hand is supposed to go where, pick another video.

Pick videos that clearly demonstrate the moves with counts. Videos that show the move in the beginning before they break it down are preferable. It is always easier to pick up moves if the person demonstrating them is standing with his or her back to you, or when turn patterns are shown from different angles. 

After Class

Taking classes is only part of the story, a very small part in fact. Most of the work happens after the class through individual practice. For every weekly class you're taking you should add at least 5 hours of practice. If you're taking intensive workshops or privates, you'll most likely need 10-15 hours pratice in order to integrate the information.


Go To >> Part 4 Of The Salsa Practice Guide:

Keeping A Dance Journal 


 Salsa Classes & Workshops

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