The Difference Between an Intermediate and Advanced Salsa Dancer

I was asked recently “What is the difference between an intermediate and advanced Salsa dancer?”

Most people would immediately assume that it would be largely to do with the amount of moves that you know…they couldn’t be more wrong.

An advanced dancer will be able to do a lot with relatively few moves, and give even the simplest routine a real wow factor.

Advanced social salsa dancers improvising

First let me define what I mean by advanced.

It’s not, by default, anyone who happens to do an advanced class at whatever club they go to.

We all know that there are many people who can get their feet round the class routines, but it never looks pretty or polished in the way a teacher or trained dancer does.

For me, an advanced dancer is someone who is the P.I.T.S

Read on to discover what that means…



An advanced dancer will know exactly where they are placing every part of their body…from their feet to their fingertips.

They will know exactly where they are in the music and in the dance, and they will be able to vary their speed of movement without affecting their timing.

They will also be able to adapt their dancing to fit their partner’s in order to make the dance work better.



An advanced dancer will be able to improvise to a high level.

That isn’t the same as remembering and repeating shines or turn patterns that they’ve learned previously.

They will be able to create their dance as they go, spontaneously reacting and responding to the music as they hear it, anticipating breaks and making it all look effortless.

A lead will be able to play with different handholds and know by virtue of experience what’s likely to work. If he does make a mistake, you won’t notice because he’ll be a master of the cover-up as well.

A lady will be able to add styling into her dance which complements the moves and music, without affecting the lead. She will have a sixth sense for the windows where she can steal a couple of beats and make herself and her partner look amazing.



Precision springs from good technique.

Technique is also what makes the complicated and difficult moves easier.

It’s not what you do, but how you do it.

Technique isn’t always specific to one dance…there are principles which transfer between dances.

For example, someone who has done Ballet will probably be great at spinning in any dance.



Advanced dancers will have a discernible style.

This will be partly rooted in the integral style of the dance – for example Cuban Salsa has a different style profile compared to LA Salsa.

But they will also have their own unique style married to that, where they have made conscious aesthetic choices about how they want their dancing to look.

That look will be unique to them and impossible to copy.


So if you want to make the jump from intermediate to advanced, you need to start working on being the P.I.T.S!!