In this article I am going to share some of my most precious advanced techniques and tips to improving your salsa rhythm. Many salsa dancers often do not realize that there is many different levels in understanding salsa rhythm. Most beginning dancers often mistakenly think that you always simply either recognize the rhythm in salsa or you do not. While in some ways this thinking is correct, realize that once you gain the ability to recognize the correct salsa rhythms there are several ways to continue to improve upon your musicality and your understanding and ability to stay on the correct salsa timing and rhythm.
Most beginning students can quickly with proper instruction to gain the awareness to be able to dance on the correct salsa rhythm. However, many students often have difficulties understanding the direction of the music. That is to say, if they dance on the first beat of the music, they might confuse the fifth beat to be the first and vice versa. But once you are able to become more aware of the salsa timing, the next step is to be able to keep the correct salsa rhythm even in faster and more musically difficult songs, songs that does not have as much emphasis on the core beats of 1,3,5,7, for example. Yet, even fewer beginning students are able to keep the rhythm while concentrating on leading and following. And very few have mastered salsa timing and rhythm to a point where their understanding of the rhythm and salsa timing is so automatic that they can concentrate all of their efforts to either interpreting other aspects of the music or to improve upon their quality of their body movement.
To help you master salsa rhythm and timing here are couple of advanced tricks that I used to do it.
Tip # 1 – Practice finding the one by doing solo shines on your own.
I used to just pop a salsa cd on a stereo in my door room and simply practice random salsa shines. A good beginning practice is to do some random stuff with your feet and in the beginning only to accent and find the first beat of the music with your left foot (when you want to develop your On1 dancing). This exercise helped me to get more familiar with salsa music and as I was doing some random made up shines with my feet it helped my ear and muscle memory to always get back on the first beat of the music. In the beginning, if you are learning to dance On1 it is important, especially for leaders, to learn to become very familiar with the first beat of the music so that even if you mess up a move, you can always come back to dancing On1 on the next eight count.
Tip # 2 - Concentrate on another task while simultaneously keeping the correct salsa rhythm
I sometimes washed dishes or cleaned my room while playing salsa. I simply attempted to continue to keep the correct salsa rhythm while concentrating on doing something else. This will actually develop your ability to keep the correct salsa timing and rhythm tremendously. It is one thing to be able to be aware of the salsa rhythm when you exert all of your mental effort in finding and keeping it, but it is yet another to be able to do it while actually concentrating on something else. Whether you are a leader or a follower this practice will definitely develop you as a dancer.
Tip # 3 - Do two things at the same time while simultaneously continue keeping the correct salsa timing and rhythm
This is continuation from the tip # 2. Simply try training your brain to recognize and keep the salsa rhythm even while doing multiple things simultaneously. For example, you could try watching TV, while washing dishes, yet could try to hear the salsa music from your stereo. Just make sure that occasionally you shift your awareness to give your full attention back to the music, so that you can check your real progress.
Tip # 4 – Start teaching salsa to others
This was one of the best ways that made me truly master salsa timing and rhythm. When I started, almost very soon after I started teaching salsa dancing. I used to live in Louisiana so many people got excited about my lessons because they were something completely new and different in the city I was living at the time. But there is nothing much more powerful to teach you more than to becoming a teacher. Realize that master salsa timing you don’t have to be a P.h,D. from a prestigious university, you simply have to have something good to share and find your own market. Teaching forces you to become clearer on your first step and when used as an alarm clock can truly be a lifeshaver. Teaching others also forces you to continue to practice your own dancing.
Tip 5 – Take salsa musicality classes or courses
When I started to learn salsa there were hardly even any instructional VHS tapes (Gosh I am starting to feel old ). It was via many of my travels that I got to attend different bigger salsa events. When ever I salsa musicality class was offered, I attempted always to join one. Learning from other experts in the field is a great way to learn salsa timing.
And there you have it, 5 simple tips to improving your salsa rhythm and timing. See you on time on the dance floor soon!