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The Etiquette of a Salsa Student: Part1

-by Kevin Toft

Please leave your ego at the door. Often it’s the stubborn or self-righteous person who will fight with their partner over who did something wrong or why it isn’t their fault the move isn’t working.

“Teachers are there to teach and partners are there to dance. In either relationship there shouldn’t be a struggle.”

Instead of arguing, do something more helpful. Assess what needs to be done to accomplish the move instead of wasting time with negativity. The important thing is to remind yourself that you aren’t the perfect salsa dancer yet and you are always reworking movements to fit you and your current partner better. Keep the tone of your practice constructive and creative as opposed to negative and stressful.

“Something I noticed while training in ballet was that for an instructor to give a correction means that you were close enough to perfect that they wanted to help you get there.”

If they didn’t give you a correction you still had a lot of figuring out to do with your own body before he or she’d even bother. Whether or not that is true is for you to decide, but the ballerina who told me that had actually convinced herself that it was the truth and she pushed herself to receive that acknowledgement from the instructors.

“It takes a conscious choice to change the way you think about something and lots of concentration at first but with time you can turn a critique of your dancing into a major compliment.”

For example, if you go out to dance and somebody says something negative about the way you were dancing at least you know that you were worth watching! Maybe the next time someone gives you a correction you’ll say to yourself, ‘finally I’ll be able to fix this move I’ve been struggling with,’ instead of, ‘why is he/she picking on me?’

“Put another way, you pay to go to classes and when the teacher comes to you personally and wants to work on what you need to work on that is much more valuable to you as a student.”

Don’t hide from critique, seek it. Then use it as motivation. Whether you’re attending group lessons or getting one on one attention with private lessons let others help you.