Get The Most Out Of
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Go To >> Part 4 Of The Salsa Practice