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Salsa Technique - And Why It Matters

Most salsa classes are all about steps. Dance- and salsa technique is often something we don't really learn when we take classes, except a few tips here and there. There are two reasons for that:

1. Teachers Don't (Know How To) Teach Salsa Technique

Sad but true. It's easier to teach steps than to teach how to dance. Salsa is first and foremost a social dance that people do as a hobby, wanting to have a good time. There is not much emphasis on learning technique, so even experienced salsa teachers usually focus only on turn patterns and give additional tips and tricks.

2. Students Don't Understand The Importance Of Technique

Since it's a social dance, what do we need technique for, right? Most of us don't want to be on stage or win competitions. When the teacher explains details of salsa technique or drills the students with the technical exercises, a lot of people get bored quickly. They want to learn the fancy steps and cool moves. They don't realize that they need the necessary technique to execute those moves (and look good while doing it). So many teachers just feed them turn patterns to get them to come back next week.

This is a vicious circle that both teachers and students keep perpetuating. But it comes at a high price. You need basic technique to dance well, even just to dance "ok". Salsa technique is not as difficult as for example ballet, but there are basic fundamentals that you should know and be able to do if you want to get to an intermediate or advanced dance level.

Why You Should Care About Proper Salsa Technique

Avoiding Injuries

Proper technique in any dance has one basic reason: to avoid injuries. Dancing can be very demanding on the body. And even if salsa is quite low-impact compared to for example ballet, there are still things that can be harmful if you do them extensively or for a longer period of time. Proper salsa technique will keep you out of harms way.

Making Things Possible

In dance one movment builds upon the other, one principle makes way for a higher concept. If you don't understand basic concepts, you will not be able to progress. It's like building a house: if there is no ground floor, you won't be able to build the first, second or third floor.

A lot of times students exclaim: " How does he do it? It's not possible!" That's precicely because they're lacking the groundwork, the technique, to make it possible.

Creating The Style

Every dance has its typical style that makes it unique. There is a certain technique and way of using your body that creates a recognizable style and lets you distinguish between salsa and ballet, or even between different styles of salsa.

Moving With Grace

Dancing gracefully is all about technique. The smoothness, poise and quality of movement that separeates a skilled dancer from a novice is proper dance technique. If you want to look good on the dance floor, you need more than steps. You need to be able to control your body and understand how to create the desired movements. Basic dance- and salsa technique will not only enable you to do what you want to do, but to do it with style.


So if you want to improve as a salsa dancer and reach an intermediate or advanced level, make sure you take learning technique seriously.

Here are some articles about salsa technique you might want to check:

Cuban Motion Technique

Leading & Following Technique

Salsa Technique 

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