How Ballroom Influences Salsa

by Nancy Di Nino, London, Ontario

June, 2000

Introduction by Rose Lau

I am pleased to introduce Nancy Di Nino, who is donating her time to writing articles about ballroom dancing. We met through a mutual salsero and have become firm friends via cyberspace and long distance calls from London -- all due to our passion for Salsa and Ballroom. Through our many conversations about dancing, we both strongly felt that ballroom technique can help you greatly in improving your salsa dancing.



How Ballroom Influences Salsa


Ballroom definitely influences salsa dancing. As I often refer to the cliche "dancing is easy... anyone can learn... but being a dancer is entirely different." Dancing is easy. Whether we are out at a club or wedding or special event, social dancing is what most of us see on a regular basis. Most of us will know a few moves, with some ‘risky' combinations, yet in general, those social dancing or club dancing perform moves that require little skill and time and primarily concentrate on steps or step combinations.


At a higher level, being a dancer where one is at a level of performance or competition... technique is a must! Salsaholics remember this! TECHNIQUE! TECHNIQUE! TECHNIQUE which requires extensive training, dedication and commitment. It is something that is acquired over time. It cannot be rushed, but you can have lots of fun learning! Like any other form of dance, salsa dancers in performance and competition require technique. Imagine watching a woman perform continuous outside turns and not spotting... you would think she had whiplash. She would look tense and awkward. I am one who concentrates highly on technique and styling in my dancing. I use the technical elements acquired in jazz, ballet and ballroom, and apply it to my salsa dancing as best as I can. Learning technique requires time and skill. It teaches you about connection, footwork, speed, balance and rhythm and timing which are all essential in ballroom and salsa dancing. It doesn't matter how basic or advanced the element is you are learning, it applies to the simplest steps or most difficult combinations.


Let me give you an example: Let's consider two dancers, one a beginner or social dancer, and the other an advanced dancer, each performing the same combination such as an outside turn to open break. Although you would watch both dancers perform it, you would notice the execution of the element to be unbelievably different. The beginner would "step" through the simple as that and back to her partner. The advanced dancer would be thinking of her connection with her partner into the turn, spotting of the turn and timing of the turn. The advanced dancer would execute the turn with grace and charisma.


One of my favourite mottos is ..whether your male or female, beginner or advanced, its better to know fewer elements that are executed correctly then to have a library of moves that are sloppy and unrefined. Salsaholics remember this. If you've got fancy moves that are sloppy -- you aren't impressing anyone! Perfect and sharpen the moves you have with a little more time spent on them and remember, have fun doing them!


Salsaholics, learn and have fun at the same time... and you will never stop dancing!