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I already have dance background, will I learn quicker?

posted Dec 20, 2011, 4:28 PM by Christian Franco   [ updated Oct 14, 2014, 5:05 PM ]

Having a dance background will not necessarily enable you to learn faster though it usually helps. A dance background usually means that you will have already developed good coordination, footwork, balance, weight transfer, spins, etc. A musical background is also beneficial, as you are more likely to have a strong sense of timing. However, some dances are so fundamentally different from salsa that dancers need to break bad habits learned from once dance to be able to dance another.

A good illustration of this point is a ballet dancer learning to dance salsa. A ballet dancer can bring a lot of great skills to salsa like balance and posture, fluidity, rhythm and timing. Salsa is more of a street dance though, so ballet dancers can encounter problems too. They are usually not used to being led, their bodies may be "stiff" as opposed to loose, their weight is often lifted as opposed to grounded, etc. This may result in the dancer looking like they are still dancing ballet while they are trying to dance salsa. This makes learning salsa challenging, and possibly frustrating (but well worth it!).

Modern salsa combines influences from alot of other dances. Dancers with hip hop, ballroom, swing or other dance backgrounds can use these skills to add some flavour and make the dance unique to them. In fact, many professional salsa dancers take lessons in other styles to improve their salsa! Hip hop/jazz to add more funkiness, ballet to improve their posture and spinning, ballroom to work on their footwork and body control, etc. So whether you’ve danced other styles of dance or not, keep in mind that salsa has its own "feel". Give that “feel” a chance, as opposed to try and make salsa feel like another dance.

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