A Guide to Learning How to Salsa

Stage 2-3: Use of Styling & Flares

Stage 3: Use of Styling & Flares
Stage 3: Use of Styling & Flares
Once you've gotten a few patterns down you'll be on your way to being comfortable with salsa dancing. Being comfortable means you can dance the basic steps without having to count in your head and be able to transition between one series of moves to another without thinking too much. With your experience being filled with dance patterns you will need to take the next step in challenging yourself and your development: using styling and flares.

Styling and flares is what will make you stand out from the rest of the salsa-learning pack. Styling doesn't have to be flashy mind you, you don't have to do those crazy hip movements like those dancers in ballroom and you don't have to fling your arms all over the place. Styling can simply mean the way you move your head during a turn or how you bring your arm to your hip. Styling is what you want to make of it.

As a reminder, you can only work on styling when you're comfortable with your basics and patterns. Whatever you do, don't start on them until you have a few patterns down, leader or follower!


There's a very good reason, the J Smooth Salsa reason. We want you to develop your own style, a style that defines who *you* are. What you want to do is change up the way a pattern is executed, not add on more steps (in this context, adding more styling and flares). Let's give an example.

Joe Dancer knows his basics and his patterns but wants to add some style to his steps. He decides to take a class in styling from an instructor, where the instructor teaches a series of steps and moves to create a pattern or styling. Joe Dancer leaves the class happy he's learned some styling. Does Joe Dancer have his own styling?

No. Joe Dancer learned someone else's styling and is dancing *their style*. Joe Dancer never created his own. Everytime Joe Dancer does any styling, he's performing someone else's movements.

Here's another scenario:

Mary Dancer knows her basics and her patterns but wants to add some styling to her steps. Based on the moves and patterns she's learned she decides to play around with them by adding a hair whip here and there.... flings her arm here or there... etc. Mary Dancer feels really stupid doing them, but she keeps at it until she feels comfortable with some of the things she does for styling. Next thing Mary Dancer realizes she's whipping her hair and flinging her arms in flares without a care. Does Mary Dancer have her own styling?

Yes. Mary Dancer developed some habits that only she could've put together. Mary Dancer formed a series of habits to create her own styling.

Now obviously you're asking "but how do I have styling if I don't have examples! Shouldn't I take a few classes in styling and flares and take away the things I want to do, to make my own styling?"

You could, but why not watch other people dance with their own styling at a club, and take away the things you want to do. You see, by taking a class in styling or flares, you're enabling yourself to copy (step by step) someone else's styling. By participating in a dance team or performance team, you're enabling yourself to copy (step by step) someone else's styling. A natural occurrence is for you memorize and execute the exact same steps...

... like when you learn a salsa pattern.

You can learn salsa patterns from anyone, they're basically all the same between instructors. Styling? No, that's not the same between instructors. Each instructor has their own styling. Now if you want to learn styling from an instructor because you want to dance like *them*, sure you can do that, but you'll lose on that individualism that you could be developing. However if you want to stand out as your own, create your own styling.

Do we have examples of styling or flares? We do not but these days you can go to a club and watch people dance or go online.

If you still want to take a class in styling or join a team to better your dancing, that's a great idea but always tell yourself that you're there to learn so that you can create your own style.

Advantages of learning styling on your own:
+ You're creating your own style on patterns you already know or are familiar with
+ There's zero chance anyone will have the same styling as you
+ You'll be recognized as someone with their own unique styling

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