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Practicing outside of class?

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Joined: 15 Oct 2006
Posts: 45
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 12:56 am    Post subject: Practicing outside of class? Reply with quote

There are many excuses for not practicing outside of classes. I myself have plenty of them: no time, no music, no partner, too tired, too busy, can't remember what was taught in the last lesson. So here are a few tips that will become your easy excuses that encourage practice, especially to those who are new to salsa:

3x5 commitment
I've had this happen to me many times, I spend an hour in class an at the end of it I think I've got it nailed, following week I've completely forgotten. What happened? The brain and body develops a muscle memory through practice. Without practice, your body can just as easily forget. So what's the 3x5 commitment? Just practice three times a week, for five minutes. In fact, I find that when you get home immediately review what you've learned in class that day for just five minutes while it is fresh in your head. During the week, practice at least two more times. For real keeners, practice 5 times week. The importance is spending a little bit of time several times to review. You'll be amazed, and you can show off the following week by executing the previous week's move/pattern flawlessly.

Get some salsa music
Just listening to a lot of salsa music helps a lot. Sometimes you'll go to a club and watch a couple dance and it seems like they know exactly where to place a pause, fancy shine, a pop, body movement or dip. It may seem magical, but more likely they know the song and have heard it enough to have memorized some key highlights in the song. For beginners the importance is finding the beat and the ability to follow the beat without having to think about it while on the dance floor. A completely new song can sometimes be difficult to follow throughout the song. Some songs are tricky, and can even change beat or rhythm in the middle of the song. By listening to a lot of salsa you improve the chances you'll already know the song and the beat so you can concentrate on other things.

Just the basics
Having a solid foundation in the basic step, side step, open break, cross over break, right turn, reverse turn and back break can make everything else much easier later on. Whenever you're standing and doing something that does not require too much concentration, (please don't do this while deep frying food, performing brain surgery, or operating a chain saw,) review these steps. The repetitive practice of these basics causes you to develop the muscle memory for these basics making more difficult moves easier to learn later on. As Emely will attest to, you can even do this while waiting for the bus or on the subway. In a public space you'll have double the learning experience as you can be so subtle by dancing very small that people might not even notice. Again, you'll be amazed at how just practicing in this very small way will improve your overall dancing.

This may be the easiest way to practice your moves, and above all it's fun. Go out to a salsa club and dance the night away. The Monday night practice sessions and the TDS outings are a great place to practice as well. Not only will you have a great time, but students of all levels are there including those you know from your class. The helpers, assistants and instructors you know and love are there as well of course. Planning to go out and hoping a few more TDS students will be there? Post a note to the get-together section of this forum and let others know to join your group.

I'm sure there are other tricks that dancers have to remember what they've learned in class. Please share, as I'm sure there are plenty we don't know about.

Remember to have fun, and let salsa put a smile on your face.

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Joined: 08 Aug 2007
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That’s many good tips, and quite a complete list. One other tip I can think of is to review combinations in your head. This is to improve the leaders memory for combinations, until they become second nature, and one just “creates” his combinations on the fly.

And the most important tip is to have fun while dancing and practicing. Everything will sink in much better when having a good time.
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Joined: 15 Oct 2006
Posts: 45
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:14 am    Post subject: A tip while in class Reply with quote

Thank Rev, you made me think of a tip that is useful while one attends class. You'll notice that most instructors will repeat the moves that are being taught at least three times. I notice students typically will have their eyes glued to the instructor throughout the class. Sometimes this can hinder one's ability to commit the move to memory. By the third repetition, try to not look at the instructor and practice the move by recalling on your own. If one becomes lost, one can always look up. This basically forces commitment into memory by not relying on the instructor. If this is too much at first, instead of looking directly at the instructor while repeating the move, keep them in the corner of your eye and focus more on your partner.

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Joined: 10 Feb 2008
Posts: 207
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great advice for students in class, Alfred. It is important for the leaders to work towards becoming more independent early in their dancing experience by training their memory.
A tip for the leaders: Continue dancing after you have completed the move/combination that is being taught. This refers to the part of the instruction in class where students practice the new moves with music. The dance is not over once the move is completed, instead continue on with your basic and repeat the move. Also, try to incorporate other moves that you know. This will better prepare you for the dance floor.
And a tip for the followers in class: Do not expect that your partner should lead you only into the move that is being taught in that class. Instead, follow the lead and enjoy the dance.

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Joined: 09 Oct 2006
Posts: 192
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would also like to add that practicing can be both formal and informal. Some students prefer to book studio time and practice with a salsa partner. Some students attend group practice sessions like the Saturday Toronto Salsa Practice, or the TDS Monday Practice Sessions. Personally, I do most of my practicing thoughout my day... when waiting for the bus, in an elevator, doing the dishes, sitting in class, etc. And any reflective surfaces are good for practicing body waves Very Happy
Katie Y.
Events Coordinator
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