A Guide to Learning How to Salsa

Stage 2-2: Pattern Development

Stage 2: Pattern Development
Stage 2: Pattern Development
As we gain knowledge of patterns and moves through our course of learning salsa we typically have challenges remembering how the patterns run or what their proper names are. Also, leaders will walk through a pattern in their heads before executing the whole pattern leadning to downtime between patterns. Giving names to patterns or moves is the easiest way to remember and execute patterns when you are dancing without your notes in front of you. Although there are proper, or given, names to certain patterns from the dance community you will want to make up names to the moves & patterns you have learned.

The advantage of not knowing a lot about dance terminology is that you can give names to patterns that are within your own vocabulary of understanding instead of trying to use correct terms. By making up your own names you are literally using your own notes taken on patterns.

Give simple names to the patterns you have learned, preferably one to three words. The name should be simple enough that you can execute the whole pattern just by thinking of the pattern's name.

Although you will be making up your own names for patterns it is best to use the given names for the moves in a pattern. Hammerlock, crossbody lead, butterfly position, and open break are given names for moves from proper dance terminology whereas Tornado, Titanic, Slide-Off, or Hand-Grab Turn are names given to patterns from dancers.

The burden of learning patterns falls on the leader because they are the ones that "lead" the follower to "follow" in their steps however, followers that learn proper terminology have an advantage when they want to replicate a move that they observed from another couple.

It's common to watch a couple dance and not remember what patterns they conducted. A way to remember the patterns is to break down the couple's selected series of patterns, which is also called choreography. You will need to have knowledge of the basic terms used in salsa dancing before you can do this easily. Visit the Terminology section on the website for more information.

As the couple goes through the choreography, call the names of the moves in your head as they are executed. When a pattern appears that is unfamiliar you should be able to catch it early enough where you can make mental notes on them assuming that you did not bring a notepad to take notes on!

As you learn new patterns during your course of salsa dancing you will be executing your current knowledge of patterns repetitively which will result in better feel and fluidity to the pattern's look. As you gain confidence in the way you move in the patterns you should also become comfortable dancing to the beats of the music without consciously counting. As a result, you will perform certain movements (quirks) that are naturally expressed. Flicking your hair away from your face or a flick of the arm during a turn are examples of those quirks. In Stage 3 we will discuss this in detail including examples of what styling and flares look like.

Advantages of Giving Names to Patterns:
+ Easier to remember all the patterns learned
+ Quickly go from one pattern to the next with minimal thinking time
+ Learn new patterns by watching other couples dance

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