One of the struggles for early dancers of Salsa is often how to make it look less “stiff” when dancing. Even when you feel like it is fairly easy for you to execute relatively complicated patterns, you still feel like you’re only doing “steps” and lacking in ability to create that flow between you and your partner. Don’t worry, this is not unusual, especially for us adult learners with no dance experience before. Fluidity comes in time, with practice, comfort and confidence. We can all work towards it, though. Here are some ways that can help you introduce fluidity in your dance movement.
Master your basic steps
Your instructor would probably have given this advice a hundred times and more during your time of learning, and you are most probably always associate it with ‘timing’. While it is true that you need to practise your basic steps in time to salsa music, what is often overlooked here is the technical aspects of executing these basic steps. It’s about foot placement, posture, weight balance, core control, and tension release. So first thing to do is paying attention to all of the above. When you step, make sure you land on the ball of foot and then push down, bending and straightening your knee while shifting weight to create a natural hip movement. Relax your shoulders and elongate your neck so that your arms can move naturally. Also remember that your core is responsible for strength and control of the pelvic alignment and your ‘centre of gravity’, so remind yourself to engage your core so that you’re never off balance. This is a good place to start, especially if you’re still a beginners, because everything else will fall into place later on in your salsa learning journey.
Do a proper warm up before class
It is important for dancers to warm up before any dancing activity to prepare the body for longer and global movements and help to decrease tension in the muscles and joints. A safe warm up gradually increases the body temperature to an optimal working level and and helps to avoid injuries. Not only this will prepare your body both mentally and physically, but it will also help you to release tensions and permit freer movement of the joints.
Learn Body Isolation Techniques
Learning Body Isolation techniques will improve your overall body awareness. Understanding the impetus and motivation for movement engages the brain and draws a link between intention and movement. Body awareness is the key to fluid, connected and engaging movement. This awareness will take time to develop and won’t happen overnight, there’s no other way around it rather than practice, practice, practice, and be patient for the result to happen.
Go to other classes
It’s a good idea to go and try other classes to complement your Salsa class. For example, Yoga and Pilates classes can help you with tension release and breathing techniques, also can help improve your flexibility and fluidity in movement. Reggaeton and Hip Hop classes are great especially for Body Isolation techniques as they teach you how to do sharp and controlled movements. Rumba and AfroCuban classes will of course be very useful to complement your Cuban Salsa class, as you will learn the roots of all the body movements used extensively in your Salsa, as well as learning the different rhythms of Cuban dances (which is a must if you love dancing to the modern Timba music).
So next time you see an advanced dancer on the dance floor who dances smoothly with an envious flow, remember that it takes a lot of training to make it look easy. Do not compare your months of experience with years of intensive training and social dancing they do. Keep at it, keep going to classes, and keep going out to clubs to dance socially. The more you dance, the more comfortable you become with your movement, also the more aware you will be with your musicality, and the more relaxed and confident you get to be. And once you feel relax and comfortable, also confident with your techniques, you too are capable of creating and articulating fluid quality movement.