Havana People

Commonly Asked Questions of Dance Teachers

Curious about dance and Latin Dance styles?

1. You teach dance...Is it a real job though?

Actually yes! We even pay our taxes like regular people!

For some of us dance artists/teachers we are even lucky and hard-working enough to make dancing our main and only job, whether that is only performing, teaching or a combination of these, it is possible to take that risk and give up you “safe” job.

Now, some of you might imagine a glamorous life of performances, dance parties, events, travel and fun – and while it is some of those things, a job as a freelance dancer or small business is a little tougher than just that, it can be a little hard to switch off from “work-mode” with long hours, many hours of administration and business set up/maintenance/advertising, and most of us give our heart and soul to the performance and to our students, it can be physically and mentally exhausting.

They say “if you love your job you never work a day in your life”!

– this list of artistic jobs also includes singers, musicians, artists, photographers and even influencers on social media (and even more!)

art is work commonly asked questions dance teachers salsa bachata havana people

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2. How quickly can I become "good" at salsa/bachata?

Well, this is something that each new students craves to know, and unfortunately it’s a question that’s a little hard to answer! While we believe anyone can learn to dance, each “journey” is different for everyone, and depends on many variables such as how many classes you attend, your previous experience, your determination and practice time.

For example a student who goes to one class a week and does not practice in between will likely learn and feel confident less quickly than someone who takes lessons one or more lessons a week and practices when they can in-between lessons. That is why it is nearly impossible to give a correct and definite answer to that question. It also depends on the goals of the student, dancing is of course for fun and for most a hobby, but even a hobby can be driven by achievement and personal goals.

An estimate of a 6-8 weeks salsa course can land a student on the dance floor with confidence and some simple but effective dance moves! 

3. How can I tell my dance level when joining a class?

When joining a new dance school or class you might be wondering at first which level of class you should attend, perhaps you have previous dancing experience in another or the same style of dance, or have come from another dancing school, you should try to remember each school has their own definition of levels as well, so an intermediate class may be more or less advanced than a class you have attended previously.

 

Our advice is always to contact the teacher or company and ask them! Please don’t turn up unannounced in the advanced class, think about it, it’s like trying to learn multiplication sums without knowing how to add or minus, it might also be considered disrespectful by your teachers or even by other students. 

 

Instead, first explain your experience to the company beforehand and they will advise you which level they think you fit into, if you feel you need to be more challenged by the class, then you can approach them and arrange to join another class. Many dance schools across Europe will ask you to join from the very beginning or even to audition to demonstrate your knowledge if you wish to join a more advanced level.

4. Where did Salsa come from?

There are some misconceptions about where salsa actually came from – but the roots of Salsa actually originated in Cuba, a beautiful mix of Spanish and African culture, rhythms and dance. 


Salsa was born on the streets and in the clubs of Cuba – and so it was pioneered by regular people (not trained dancers) and that is why salsa is for everyone! 

Influences came from numerous styles of dance such as Son, Danzon, Bolero, Cha Cha Cha, Conga, Afro-Rumba (not to be confused with ballroom Rumba) and the Orishas, to create the salsa we know and love today. With the rising popularity of “radio sound” and jazz from the Americas, salsa was able to develop and spread across the world!

5. There different styles of Salsa?

As you become more experienced and knowledgable about salsa you will come to recognise that there are different styles of salsa! Yes indeed! There are many variations of salsa, most developed in different countries students and “non-dancers” that salsa is just one style of dance, but just like with any genre of music there are always sub-genres or sub-styles. While all the styles are based on the main foundation steps of salsa the main differences are related to musical timing, some styling preferences and leading & following routines and rules.

 

Above we discussed the origins of salsa and yes, there is the distinct style of Cuban Salsa, but as the popularity of salsa dance, jazz and Latin culture spread across the world, other styles developed including New York salsa, Puerto Rican Salsa, Cali style, Colombian, LA (Los Angeles), Miami, also “Salsa on 1” and “Salsa on 2”.

6. What is Bachata? How is it different from Salsa?

Often I am asked from new students about Bachata and how it is different from Salsa… If you’ve even been to a Latin dance or Salsa party, Bachata is usually played to break up the all that high energy from salsa and give the dancers a moment to rest or enjoy a slower song with a partner. 

Bachata was born in the Dominican Republic, originally a faster paced dance with lots of footwork and improvisation, after bachata entered popular culture the steps have become standardised and the music itself has also been influenced by Latin pop music.


Note that bachata is danced on bachata music and the basic steps of bachata are different from salsa, however the rules of the dance in terms of leading and following are similar. Over the last few years the popularity of the music genre has grown and the dance has developed to incorporate more complex moments as well as elements from other styles like contemporary modern dance. 


If you enjoy salsa, then you will definitely enjoy learning and dancing Bachata as well!

Written by Rhian Saunders (Havana People) 

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