Note: This is Adrian Buendia's first contribution to SalsaNewYork.
His opinions are meant as a counterpoint to stimulate thought. Call it
thinking from the flip side of the coin. As Adrian stated to me in an email
"I do not wish to offend anybody, I am just looking to share my
experience with others and
get some feedback.".
PARTNERS IN SALSA DANCE CLASSES: HARMFUL,
-by Adrian J Buendia
It is a common practice among salsa dance instructors, to have the
switch partners frequently during the class in order to get them used to
dancing with different partners. As a beginner student I found
practice, at least the way it is generally done, counterproductive
Every time I was learning a turn in any class I took, just when my
and I where beginning to "get it," the instructor would switch
partners and I
would find myself right back at the beginning. If my new partner
in learning the turn, or her style or sense of rhythm was different from
previous partner's, or my own, this would throw me off and render any
progress I made before of little use. I needed time to synchronize
The instructor usually continued where he/she left off before the
ignoring the conflict created by it. Meanwhile, my new partner and
more focused on adapting to each other's style and understanding of the
than on what the instructor was saying, would fall behind on the
and eventually find ourselves pretty lost.
I tried taking an intermediate class, to see if dancing with a more
partner would help, but I couldn't keep up, the pace was too fast for
went to several classes with 3 different instructors, all well known and
reputable, hoping to find one that would do it differently. They
all did it
the same way.
I think that a better way for instructors to do the partner switch, is
allowing the students to learn one complete turn with the same partner,
then, when they start teaching a new turn, have them switch partners.
way the instructor is not adding one more difficulty to the already
task of understanding and memorizing a turn.
Being able to dance with different partners is, obviously, important,
a man to adapt to a new partner's style, he must be able to lead her,
something he cannot do when he is still learning the steps.
And for a
woman to adapt to a new partner, she must also be familiar with the
that she can understand what her partner is trying to do, and follow.
Because of this, it seems to me that people who already know how to
the ones who can benefit the most from the experience of dancing
different partners. People who are trying to learn how to dance
instead, hindered by it, since they are, in practice, trying to learn
things at the same time.
I personally think that the ideal way to learn how to dance is by
with the same partner, this way the couple can quickly adapt to each
style, their level of ability will be matched, and their progress will
even. This frees their minds to focus entirely on learning the
they learn better.
However, dance classes where one is not required to bring a partner,
many more people to participate, and make it easier for the
run a full class, since it does not require continuity but, instead, it
always accommodate new students of different levels and contain full
instruction on a variety of things. That's why this type of class
desirable for students as well as instructors and, therefore, more
I must add here that I am not a true beginner, and that I actually have
advantage over the average beginner: I was born and raised in
Cuba, where I
learned the basic steps of Salsa dancing very early. It is turns
never bothered to learn. I am also a musician, and have played
professionally for years. Understandably, I have no problem at all
up floor shines, basic steps, or anything that I can do without a
I have stopped taking classes, and have been learning from videos
with a friend. Though videos are an effective tool to learn how to
they are not nearly as motivating as being in a class. Dancing is
activity, and being around other dancers is half the fun.
I welcome any feedback on the opinions that I have expressed here.
to email me at: AJB0580@AOL.COM
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