-by Kevin Toft
I’m not one to grimace, but when I’m at a salsa event and an instructor says something along the lines of “don’t do it this way, that’s the wrong way,” you’d see me grimace.
“Ok granted, there are some techniques that are dangerous if done incorrectly and there are standards that all teachers should be educating their students in but if someone can spin with a different technique there’s nothing wrong about it.”
In the end, there are countless combinations of body positions that can achieve a certain result. The trick is finding the right one for your body (and after that finding the right one for your partner’s). Salsa dancing, along with any form of dance is about developing a relationship with your body. Working on hand-eye coordination, eye-foot, hip-chest and every other combination until your body is completely your own to control.
“Eventually, your mind will start expressing itself through your body and you’ll be doing the most beautiful things through that link.”
Here’s my personal rule. If a move doesn’t make either person uncomfortable and you can stay generally on-beat it is fair game. For students out there who take classes from many different teachers and are receiving mixed messages, make sure to always give equal respect to all teachers. There’s always something to learn from anyone.
A surprising number of my students have come to me and said basically the same thing. They all want me to teach them “the right way” to dance salsa. What they really want to learn are the signals of lead and follow necessary to communicate with other dancers at a salsa social. What they think they want to learn is all the cool moves and shapes I create with my body as I dance. There’s a syllabus of moves for every level of dancer, and I have meaningful reasons for teaching my specific technique the way that I do but my goal isn’t to make you look like me. Believe it or not I’m here to let you look like you.