For many people learning to dance “on 2” is a far off obscure thing that they have tried once or twice in a workshop without success. Some join a team hoping to learn to dance on 2, but even after many months they still find themselves falling back “on 1”. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way! I tell you the secret to learning to dance “on 2” quickly and much more painlessly than you ever thought possible!
What is dancing on 2?
Dancing “on 2” is a style of salsa in which your break step (your last forward or backward step of your basic) is done on the 2 and the 6 vs the 1 or the 5. But it is so much more than that! This small shift in timing causes the dance to be danced in a very different way. NY style “on 2” (in which the leaders break back on 2) changes the place of the “slow” (count 4 & 8) within the dance. Instead of the slow being in the middle of the basic, it is now on the ends of your basic. This changes how the dance feels drastically! It allows for more time over the turns because you are now turning during the slow instead of prepping on it. This is very apparent in traveling turns such as inside turn and outside turns.
Instructors frequently teach how to dance “on 2” by counting the break steps (sometimes very loudly) 2 and 6, but the secret to a (relatively) quick transition is to focus on where the slow step is. The whole dance feels different when danced this way and you are much more likely to be aware of your timing and will be much less likely to fall back “on 1” when learning this way. Most leaders don’t step on every count and therefore lose their timing because of a lack of weight transfer. Followers tend to spin and then wait for count one to step back. If leaders focus on where the pause is in moves and transfer weight every count they find that dancing on 2 comes easily! Followers need to understand the difference in spinning technique and timing in order to not fall off time as well. Once that has occurred learning to dance “on 2” is just a matter of practice!
The key is to have an instructor break down the timing in your basic moves and practice that. Then once you know the timing, you can now apply the timing to anything you want. I hope that helps you on your way to learning this amazing style. It will truly make you a much more versatile dancer!
Competition scoring results
How were competitors scored?
Competitors were scored based on their timing, technique, teamwork, musicality, and overall presentation. Judges called back 4 couples. Judges were asked to give a yes or no score on who they would like to see dance in the finals based on the above criteria. A yes was given 2 points and a no was given one point.
Thank you to all who participated!! It will keep getting better from here! Thanks for helping us grow our salsa community! We will be doing our competitions quarterly so our next one will be in August. Hoping for more judges to get a wider spread for results as well as having two separate levels! Stay tuned for more details!!
Results are as follows.
“How long will it take me to learn how to dance?”
“How long will it take me to get good at dancing?
The question I get all the time as a dance instructor is, “How long will it take me to learn how to dance?” or “How long will it take me to get good at dancing?” My reply is always the same. It is up to you how long it will take you and it depends on what you define as being able to dance, or being a good dancer.
Is being able to dance the ability to comfortably lead 5 patterns on the social dance floor, or is it having the command of many patterns and being able social dance with anyone? Is being a good dancer being able to look like the best dancers at the socials, or is it just being able to lead/follow well? Decide on your definition of what you want from your dancing.
So, here they are: the most important factors in my opinion in how quickly you can become a proficient dancer.
- Practice! Most people are not good at something the very first time you try it. The amount of time you spend dancing will directly correlate with how quickly you progress. It’s about frequency folks, not practicing once per week for 5 hours. You will grow much more quickly spending 10 minutes every day (70 minutes/wk) than you will if you spend 3 hours once a week practicing. When you learn a new technique, practice it as frequently as you can.
- Practice the right things. If you are practicing your basic step wrong you are not doing yourself any favors. Seek professional help even if it just quickly for a second after a class and ask the instructor if you are doing it correctly (make sure the instructor has time, and if not schedule some private time). If not you need to know how it feels to do the move correctly and how it feels to do it incorrectly. If you know the feeling of right and wrong your body will naturally try to correct itself. Purposefully do the move wrong and then purposefully do the move right. Make sure that you know the difference.
- Pay attention to the little details in the classes you take. Those are much more important than the patterns you learn. I can’t say it enough: technique matters. How you feel as a leader or follower matters! It is why the girls will wait in line for a leader and he never has to ask a girl to dance, or why that girl always gets asked to dance (more on this in another post). If you don’t know how it feels to dance with yourself, then you haven’t asked, or you haven’t taken a private lesson, or you honestly haven’t paid attention. Regularly practice dancing with your eyes closed feel your partner. Are you pulling too hard, too far? Are you hitting her in the head? (We really don’t like this!) Ladies, are you not being responsive to what the leader is asking you to do? Are you collapsing your arm? Are you too tense? Paying attention to those things will drastically change your dancing more than months of pattern classes.
- Take a private lesson! Ask most people who are high level dancers how many private lessons they have taken and they will tell you that they can’t count. They make the biggest difference in your dancing. Make sure you do your homework before a private lesson though. Find a good instructor. Ask around. Don’t just ask if you liked them, ask what they like about that instructor. Look at their students are they progressing? The final piece of homework I recommend is knowing what you want to work on. It is not good to walk into a lesson and ask the instructor to fix whatever they think is broken. You know your dancing best. Instructors only get the few minutes they actually dance with you. You are there every time you dance. What is working in your dancing and what is not working in your dancing? You will feel like you got more out of the lesson if you come with something specific to work on.
- Social dance. If you are learning a social dance then the best thing you can do is actually social dance!! Go often, and dance with as many different people as possible. Do not be afraid to ask the good dancers to dance, this is how you will get better. Yes, you might get turned down, but the majority of good dancers are more than happy to dance with beginners. We were there once too.
I hope this helps you in your quest for becoming the dancer that you want to be. Please ask questions, start a conversation, talk about what has helped you progress as a dancer. This list is not all inclusive.
See you on the dance floor!