Your Salsa Journey Starts HereSalsa For All Levels In Brentwood Essex
Every Journey Starts With A Single Step!
And if you can take one step you can definitely dance Salsa.
Every dancer experiences a unique journey as they progress from their very first basic, accumulating the skills and moves they need to thrive, not just survive on the dance floor.
My aim is to make this journey as smooth and stress free for you as possible, because the first few months can often feel like a steep upward climb and the learning curve is not linear. It’s common for people to hit plateaus or even feel they are going backwards at times.
One of the keys to reducing the potential overwhelm of this learning curve is helping you to understand exactly what skills, steps and moves need to be mastered at each level and then providing a progressive learning pathway to help you achieve this.
Many Salsa clubs are extremely vague about what defines each level in their class structure, yet this is crucial knowledge for Salsa students, as without it you have no idea what you need to do to get better and cannot manage your own progression effectively.
I believe in being very specific about what is taught in each class/course/level so you can acquire all the tools you need to realise your dance aspirations.
Levels are specific to individual clubs and often subjective – especially to the untrained eye. Just because someone looks good on the dance floor, or even if they feel good to dance with, it doesn’t mean that they are super-duper advanced.
Experience Doesn’t Always Equate With Skill Level
Some people have been dancing for 20 years plus, yet may still only have an improver skill level or repertoire.
This is because many things in Salsa cannot be picked up organically purely through social dancing. They have to be learned, practiced and refined.
Without the necessary level of technique and spatial awareness, fast, complicated combinations with multiple direction changes are much harder to execute and often dangerous, especially for the follower.
Without timing and musicality, the most show-stopping moves are damp squibs.
Therefore your progress will always depend on the quality of teaching, demonstration and feedback you are receiving, the skill level of the partners you regularly dance with and the amount of purposeful practice you do.
How Salsa Intoxica Levels Are Structured
I have designed five levels of core knowledge which I think best represent the ascending skill level of a social Salsa dancer.
All levels are colour coded so you can see at a glance if a course or workshop is appropriate for you.
Below you will find the syllabus for each level and the pre-requisites needed to join a course or workshop at that level.
You will only be allowed to join more advanced levels if you have the necessary skill sets to avoid holding back other students.
If you are unsure of your current level you should book a Taster lesson to enable me to ensure you join the appropriate course.
All levels include solo footwork shines as well as partnerwork. This is because shines are an integral part of salsa dancing and improve balance, coordination and musicality as well as integrating body motion.
Much of the skill needed in partnerwork relies on you being in full control of your balance, are able to transfer your weight efficiently, and generate your own speed and momentum without affecting your partner.
Learning footwork is the most efficient and fun way of doing this, and ALWAYS translates into a higher level of skill and confidence compared to those who only learn partnerwork routines.
A Social Dance Syllabus
My courses are designed specifically for social dancers.
I think it is important to understand the difference between performance choreography, where both partners know what’s coming, and improvisation, which is created in real time in response to the music.
Some teachers blur the lines between the two which leads not only to unsafe dances, but frustration when those moves just won’t work outside of class.
There are certain moves – especially lifts and most tricks – which have no place on a busy social dance floor.
Unfortunately they get taught by irresponsible teachers to unskilled leads who simply don’t have the timing and core strength to lead them safely, and then insist on peppering them randomly through every dance even if they have never danced with that follower before.
Improvisation Is The Most Important Skill
It should be understood that the physical connection and brain processes required for social improvisation are very different than those required for dancing pre-choreographed material.
Therefore it’s my belief that the means of teaching this should logically be different too.
In other words, copying long, pre-choreographed routines week after week is not the most useful method for teaching real time improvisation skills.
Some delivery of standard moves and classic combinations is absolutely necessary, as these will form the backbone of your social dancing. However if you only copy without learning how to create and link moves and think for yourself, you will end up with boring, repetitive dances.
Musicality And Expression
It is also important to realise that only learning to generic counts can disconnect students from the music – which is why I have embedded some musicality concepts into the syllabus.
Styling + Musicality + Personality = Expression
This is the sweet spot for all social dances.
So here is a brief summary of how my levels are structured – paying students will receive more detailed checklists of the shines, skills, partnerwork moves and combos they need to master at each level.
Just hit the plus sign in the right hand side of the coloured box for each level to see a summary of the syllabus:
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What's Your Level?
Beginner Level - Your First Steps Into Salsa
Who Is A Beginner?
A beginner is someone at the start of their Salsa journey who falls into one of the following categories:
- A complete newbie with zero dance experience
- New to Salsa but has training in other dance styles
- Had some experience of Salsa but returning after a break
- Taken Salsa lessons elsewhere but wants to go back to basics to fill in knowledge gaps, improve technique and iron out bad habits.
Pre-Requisites For Beginners
All you need is the desire to dance and the tenacity to stick with it through the initial learning curve as Salsa is a complex dance to fast music with unlimited creative possibilities.
If you can walk, you can dance Salsa, and there is no upper age limit, although normal mobility is assumed.
This is a dance school for adults so there is no provision for under 18s.
What’s Taught At Beginner Level?
Beginner Footwork & Shines
- Basic and Side Basic
- Right and Left Turn
- Foundation Shine Footwork
- Dancing to Salsa Rhythm and Core Beats
- Counting the music
- How to find the 1st beat of the bar
- Timing and Tempo
- Basic and Side Basic
- Frame and Hold
- Connection Fundamentals
- The Cross Body Lead & Walkthrough
- Leading and following a basic right turn
- The two main structures in Cross Body Salsa
Upper Beginner Level - Building Strong Foundations
Who Is An Upper Beginner?
An Upper Beginner dancer will know how to hold their partner and be comfortable with the simple lead/follow technique of the Basic, Cross Body Lead and Right Turn.
They will be able to link these moves into some simple freestyle combinations.
They will be able to hold Salsa timing or a Core Beat rhythm.
They may not have much (or any) social dance experience yet but the main focus should be to build solid technical foundations.
Pre-Requisites For Upper Beginners
Before moving into my Upper Beginner classes you will need to be able to lead or follow, and transition smoothly between:
Basic and Side Basic in single/double handhold and open/closed position
Cross Body Lead and Walkthrough
Lead or follow a simple man turn/lady turn combo using a pizza turn or behind the back hand change.
Dance to the main Salsa Rhythm and Core Beats
Find the 1 and be able to count the music correctly
Know the following footwork:
Right & Left Turn, Cross Body Lead and all the Shine steps taught in Beginner level.
What’s Taught At Upper Beginner Level?
- Simple Shine combinations using foundation steps learned in Beginner Level
- Add speed and syncopation to create rhythmic variations of those steps
- Introducing assymetry into combinations
- Changes of orientation and direction
Upper Beginner Musicality
- Simple Syncopations
- Using every beat of the music
- How to dance a song intro
- The piano Montuno
Upper Beginner Partnerwork
- The 4 Dynamics of the CBL
- Left Turns For Lead and Follow
- Right Turn and walkthrough variations
- Applying simple hand changes, wraps and Hammerlocks
- Intro to Inside and Outside Turns
- Using Simple Shines in Partnerwork
- Open Break, 360 and simple Copa
Improver Level - Expanding Your Skills & Repertoire
Who Is An Improver?
An Improver understands the base structure of Cross Body Salsa and will have a basic repertoire of partnerwork moves and solo shine footwork.
They will be able to link these moves into some simple freestyle combinations and keep the flow of the dance going without stopping and starting and adding in lots of Basics for thinking time.
They will know inside from outside turns and be comfortable leading or following from either hand, and be familiar with some simple techniques for changing hands such as drop-catches and flings.
They will be comfortable enough to separate from their partner for a few bars of music to do some solo shines.
Pre-Requisites For Improvers
Before moving into Improver classes you will need to be able to:
Remember and dance the shines taught in the previous levels
Lead/follow everything taught at Upper Beginner Level.
Followers need to be able to demonstrate the correct footwork and timing for inside and outside turns without a partner.
Hear and identify the main Salsa instruments and their rhythms.
What’s Taught At Improver Level?
- Longer combinations
- Solo Spin Technique
- Other types of Salsa turns
- Body movement
- Simple arm styling
- Song Structure
- Navigating breaks and timing changes
- Expressing musicality in Partnerwork
- Intro to spin technique and spotting
- Checked Inside Turns & Broken Turns
- Circle Patterns, Rotational moves and 360 Cross Body Lead
- Common Copa Variations
- Followers Double Spin
- More Inside and Outside Turn Variations
- Introduction to Arm work – flings, touch and go, loops, and more hammerlock entries and exits.
Intermediate Level - Adding Complexity, Speed & Style
What Is An Intermediate Dancer?
An Intermediate dancer will be able to lead/follow a decent variety of social turn patterns.
Leads will be able to apply hand changes at will using hammerlocks, flings, drop catches and touch & go techniques.
Followers will know how to reciprocate these and maintain connection throughout.
They will have a basic repertoire of styling and be able to integrate it when musically and functionally appropriate.
Both will have good spatial awareness and be able to dance safely on a fast, crowded social floor.
They will be confident when breaking for shines and have the ability to improvise to the music.
Pre-Requisites For My Intermediate Classes
Before moving into the Intermediate Classes you will need to demonstrate the following skills:
Ability to lead/follow a good repertoire of social turn patterns with sound technique and footwork.
Know the followers footwork for all main Salsa static and travelling turns
Execute a decent double spin on correct timing
Break for shines at appropriate points in the song and show some rhythm variations appropriate to the music
What’s Taught At Intermediate Level?
- Drills for Increasing Footwork Speed
- Fast Flare & Tap/Twist combos
- Shine Improvisation Skills
- Going “Off-Piste” with timing
- Expression through body movement
- Understanding and respecting breaks, transitions and timing changes
- Knowing when to use dips, drops and dramatic stops for musical effect.
- More complex static Spin combos
- Extending the line
- Pivots and Overturns
- 360 Inside Turn variations
- Neck wraps, elbow locks, more advanced armography variations
Advanced Level - Honing Your Salsa Superpowers
What Is An Advanced Dancer?
An Advanced Leader will be able to lead and CREATE complex, improvised turn patterns and shines at speed.
An Advanced Follower will be able to read the most subtle cues from her partner and respond with lightning fast reactions to glide through complex combinations and make it look effortless.
Both will also appreciate the value of simplicity, using body movement to add flavour and fill out the music.
They will be able to hit accents in the music with appropriate styling, and vary their movement quality to reflect the music.
They will be able to predict and navigate breaks/changes with ease and creativity.
Both lead and follower will be able to adjust the timing and placement of their footwork to match the rhythms/phrasing of the music without losing timing or distracting their partner.
They will have near telepathic connection skills and together they will be equal collaborators, both contributing to the musicality, flow and style.
Pre-Requisites For My Advanced Classes
By reading the description above you’ll realise that being “advanced” isn’t really about learning a ton of new stuff.
By now you should have all the building blocks.
This level is about taking that content and using it more creatively, more musically, and pushing the boundaries of your technique to gain more speed, add more spins and interpret the music better.
In order to join my advanced classes you will need at least 2-3 years intensive social dance experience AND/OR have completed my syllabus through group or private classes.
My advanced classes are by application/invitation only and you will need to demonstrate the required skill level in order to be accepted.
What’s Taught At Advanced Level?
- Drills for Increasing Footwork Speed
- Fast, syncopated combos
- Shine Improvisation Skills
- Creative use of the music
- Advanced Spin Technique
- Triple Spins
- Travelling turns with extra rotations
- The 540 Cross Body Lead
Mambo & Salsa On 2Expanding Your Salsa Horizons
Take Your Musicality To The Next Level
At some point you may realise that in order to progress your Salsa, you need to dig deeper into musicality.
And this is mostly when dancers start to explore Salsa On 2 because it’s here that many more opportunities to express the music can be found.
Mambo is actually a very deep subject with a rich history, and is in fact the root of all cross body or linear style Salsa…and before THAT was Son, Rumba and other Afro-Cuban folkloric dances.
So you really don’t know Salsa until you know Mambo.
The terms “Mambo”, “New York Style”, and “Salsa On 2” are often used interchangeably however they are not exactly the same thing.
And although the moves and structures are largely the same as dancing Salsa On 1, the way they fit to the music gives a very different feel and flow to the dance.
There are a few different On 2 timings and styles, and these are covered briefly in my Mambo syllabus. I believe it’s important for students to have an overview of Mambo as a whole to inspire them to further study rather than sticking rigidly to one style
We cover the basics of New York Style, Puerto Rican Style, Pachanga, Cha Cha Cha, Boogaloo, Son, and Classic Mambo/Palladium style as they will give you a deeper understanding of the nuances of dancing On 2 and how to work with the music.
There is so much to learn in Salsa which makes it impossible to cover everything within the confines of standard classes.
So additional workshops take place from time to time which go deeper into subjects such as connection, musicality, body movement, styling and spinning.
These are aimed at dancers of improver level and above.