Salsa is a dance style that is fun and energetic and it looks great when you’re strutting your stuff on the dance floor. Most salsa dancers learn and improve by memorizing the motions for a range of different movement patterns but if you really want to take your salsa dancing to the next level, you should definitely learn how to improvise. Check out this video of Ustin and Ieva improvising salsa and you will see straight away just how great it can look when you learn to improvise well.
Dance improvisation, as with music improvisation, isn’t just moving in any which way to the music. People who can improvise well have spent a long time dedicating themselves to understanding the grammar of the dance style so that they can go on to create their own sentences. With salsa, you are constrained by the 8-beat music, hip and leg motions, and the pauses on the 4th beat, for example. But these constraints only serve to make improvisation easier because you can build off the basic pattern that you have memorized.
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Improvisation has a range of benefits that can help salsa dancers at any level:
Improves your dancing and musicality
By breaking yourself out of habitual movement patterns, you can improve your overall dance skills by learning and developing new patterns. To improvise well, you also need to truly connect with the music. When you practice improvisation you will naturally develop an ear for music as you improve.
Improves your ability to recover
Everyone makes a mistake sometimes when they are dancing. If you haven’t learnt to improvise, a mistake can completely throw you for a loop and mess up the rest of the dance. Improvisation will allow you to think on your feet and turn your mistake into the springboard for a new movement.
Improves your connection with your dance partner
If you dance at socials, being able to improvise will improve your ability to communicate with your partner and it will allow you both to have a lot more fun with your dance. You will also look a lot more natural together, which is very important for competitions and shows.
Helps you to develop your own choreography
If you aspire to write your own choreography, improvisation can be your best friend. You will never come up with innovative and exciting choreography by following the same movement formulae each time. But a new movement that you improvise can inspire you to create a whole new choreography that no one has seen before.
The bottom line
Learning to improvise can be difficult and it requires a lot of practice. You will need to have a deep understanding of how salsa dancing works but you will also need to be able to let yourself go, feel the music, and be creative. Once you get the hang of improvisation, however, your salsa dancing will jump to the next level and you will almost certainly be having a whole new kind of fun.
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