Have you ever seen a salsa dancer who was able to magically hit all of the accents and breaks in the music? Someone who made you wonder, “how in the world did he/she did it?” Or maybe you have been dancing salsa for awhile, salsa timing has become easy to you, and now you are starting to feel a bit bored with the same old patterns that you know, and you have begun to question, “Is this really all there is to salsa?”
If so, this article is for you. In part one of this article, I am going to reveal to you 3 tips that has made the biggest contribution in helping me become a more musical salsa dancer. Who am I to talk about this subject. Just awhile back, I was social dancing with one of the most famous salsa dancers and instructors in the world, and after our social dance together she asked me, “Mikko, would you want to tour in some different countries with me and possibly teach some salsa musicality workshops?” And now I am teaching and creating an on-line learning product about the subject. My point is that if I can become a musical salsa dancer, having had no musical background, so can you. But enough about me, the reason you are reading this is so that you can become a more musical dancer, right?
And here are my tips.
Tip # 1 – Master Salsa Timing First
Realize that there are at least three different levels of understanding salsa timing, if not more. To become a more musical salsa dancer it is important that you first master salsa timing. When you first learn salsa, you learn to count the music 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7. Once you learn to recognize the 1st beat of the music and hold the salsa timing and rhythm, you have achieved the first level of awareness. The second level of awareness is to be able to recognize the correct timing and rhythm and be able to do that with any song. You still have to use conscious effort and keep counting the music as you dance, but you are able to do that with any song. The third level of awareness is to be able to automatically be on the correct timing and rhythm. At this point, you have developed your musical ear and drilled your steps to the point that you can easily keep the correct timing and rhythm without much mental effort. You have basically mastered the salsa timing. To reach an even higher level of mastery, you have to be able to recognize and step on any particular count or half count in the music with out much mental effort, yet know exactly where you are in respect to the music and timing. This level of mastery often takes a lot of practice and repetition, and I am still continuing to work on this myself. Simply keep practicing, and you will get there also.
Tip # 2 – Learn To Recognize The Different Types Of Salsa
Do you differentiate the way you dance salsa between the different types of salsa music? If you are just starting out or even if you have danced for awhile, chances are you do not. You might have learned to dance salsa On1 for example, and regardless of the mood of the music or the type of salsa played, you still might be dancing the same way that you learned originally? This is common. But realize that there are many types of salsa. For example, there are salsa romantica, salsa dura, and classic salsa. Now if the band or a DJ plays salsa romantic, that is often slow and romantic. Why not try to interpret the mood of the music by slowing your dance down, connecting more with your partner and making your moves slower and smoother? Or if a afro-cuban, pachanga, or cha-cha part comes on a salsa song, and they often do, why not try to listen to those changes and dance those parts reflecting any afro-cuban, pachanga, or cha-cha moves that you might know? My point is that if you want to become a more musical salsa dancer, it is important that you learn to recognize, study, and appreciate the different types of salsa music. Learn the differences between timba, latin jazz, cha-cha, pachanga, son, bolero, salsa romantica, and salsa dura, for example, and you are on your way to becoming a more musical salsa dancer.