Lead Dancers: How to Dance Like a Professional

Article taken from Addicted2salsa.com:
Imagine yourself in that salsa club for the first time: the music is loud, upbeat and with great energy and everyone is dressed in a fashionable way. As you walk in, you approach the dance floor. Here is when you are truly introduced to the world of salsa. You stare at the dancers as you see dancing, executing all these amazing turns; how they dance with passion, the sexiness, and then again, the turns! The never-ending, fun turn!!

Sound like your experience? It was definitely mine, so right away I knew I had to learn how to dance.

Once I started dancing, the better I saw myself dancing, the more I noticed that some girls did not enjoy dancing with me or they would just flat out say no every time I asked them to dance. Why? After all I was doing all the turns and dips, the sexy patterns, the fun stuff – you know, the works.

It was after some time that I truly learned what makes a guy a great dancer:

When you dance salsa, you don’t make the girl do the turns, you guide her.

This observation alone is very general, but it opens the door to help you understand dancing in a new way. Leading is the key to being a great dancer. Lets dive in to see how you can improve the way you play your role on the dance floor as a leader.

Here are my tips:

Most girls will be familiar with guys making you do the turns and combinations. After all, when you go home after a night of salsa dancing, you feel that your whole body is sore as you if were beaten by a gang of wild monkeys. Guys! Lead as if you were showing the way, not as if you were making her play catch up. Its okay to be toned and firm, guys, but not rough. There is a line between those two concepts and believe me, its not a fine one. There is a big difference when it comes down to making versus leading. Want to know what kind of lead you are? Do a survey among the girls you dance with. They’ll be happy to tell you.

This one baffles me: the guy places the hand up and somehow, by magic, he expects the girl to turn. What king of dance instructor teaches this concept to their students? Every move has to be specific guys. If you want to move a chair from point A to B, you have to make it happen right? So lead as if you were making the turn happen. But remember: guide vs. make. Be assertive in your moves as if she were to close her eyes and still be able to follow you.

Guys, guys, guys!! If she is falling after the same turn patterns, or she feels uncomfortable with some of your moves, then don’t do them. Try combinations and moves that help the girl feel more comfortable, and are at her level of dancing. Always adapt to her, without expecting her to adapt to you. Its funny to see some guys doing the same endless turns until the girl is falling down. You guys, this is not your signal to stop those turns. If she is loosing her balance, don’t keep going on and on.

Changing this perspective will help you see opportunities to be better at leading. Often times, I hear guys make comments like: I don’t like dancing with her, she can’t follow. Instead why don’t you say to yourself: What can I do to improve my lead in this particular move, so that she can follow it next time? After all you want to improve as a lead right? Then start by working on yourself. Thinking this way helps you be the guy who can lead everybody. And ladies will enjoy dancing with you because of that.

Let me put it in other words: be within reach. Dance at a distance that will make it easy for you as a lead so you don’t have to be running after her. I suggest a one-foot distance between your body and hers as you dance. You will feel more in control and this will help her feel your lead. In addition to this, don’t over extend your arms when you dance, especially in your open breaks. This creates extra distance between you and your partner, making it hard to reach or lead the next move.

Pay attention to how she feels, her movement, her momentum, her resistance, her body language, her distance, and her styling. You will be able to place combinations and moves that flow and fit the moment versus placing moves or combos for the sake of the move.

If you don’t, you are just going through the motion – you are not dancing. Remember that we dance to the music, and so does the girl. You will also be able to coordinate your moves better, and trust me, your dancing will improve dramatically.

Many guys out there get so into the moves and styling that they end up forgetting about leading the girl, or end up confusing her. Sometimes styling can interfere with the girls following, so be aware of it. Assertive leading helps you be in tune with your dance partner. Do you feel in tune with the people you dance with or are you just dancing with yourself?

Learn other dances: It improves your favorite dance. Think you know it all? Then you must be a world champion and everyone enjoys dancing with you! Not your case? Not to worry! We can all improve and learn new things, even as a professional dancer I will always continue learning. Take some privates, work on your technique and try learning a new dance.

And the final one:


This is the best thing you could do, if you are really serious about dancing. Do you really want to be exceptionally good at leading? Then practice following. Take your dancing to the next level and understand dancing from the followers perspective. True leaders know how followers feel. What better way to know than by being one?

All these little tips will help you get there as a great leader. And always remember: when it comes down to being a successful dancer, the stronger the foundations, the better you will be able to build upon them. So get to it!

For more information on this and related topic, www.estebanconde.com .


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