How to Stay Motivated while Learning Salsa

How to Stay Motivated while Learning Salsa

How long have you been learning salsa? Are you feeling frustrated and just about to give up? Whether you are a salsa beginner, intermediate student, or seasoned dancer, here are some tips I’d like to share with you to help you stay motivated to continue learning salsa.

Learning salsa is like learning any new skill. We start from the basics- learning step by step from basic patterns to advanced ones. At first, everything may seem easy-peasy, but as you gradually level up, you will start to face challenges such as turns/spins, frame, call/response, body coordination etc. You might feel frustrated at times, and you may even feel like giving up. You are not alone! Most of us experience these feelings at some point or even cyclically. Here are some methods to help you hang in there:

1. Adjust Your Mindset

Dancing is a physical activity, and you’re going to sweat and feel soreness in muscles you might not have even noticed before. You’re going to try new, unfamiliar movements and rhythms, and sometimes you’ll feel ridiculous and embarrassed. Sometimes you’ll feel motivated by the challenge, and other times you’ll feel shame that you cannot do something well (Editor’s note: If you never feel this way, you are probably not evaluating yourself very accurately 😅 )

What I’m trying to say is, it’s absolutely normal to feel uncomfortable, because when you’re learning something new, you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. There’s nothing wrong with feeling frustrated, ashamed, sad, or upset while practicing. Instead of focusing on these feelings, however, try to focus on ‘learning’ itself. You’re growing and adjusting, and that’s all it matters. If you can have this mindset first, then you are more likely to persevere and make it past those things that are challenging you.

2. Find Yourself a Role Model

Whether it’s your teacher, advanced classmates, or an international professional dancer, find yourself a role model- someone who inspires you to dance like him/her. After learning salsa for a while, we all have goals and expectations for ourselves. Maybe you want to enjoy social dancing in parties more, or maybe you want to look fabulous while dancing… Whatever your goal is, having someone to look up to will encourage you to keep challenging yourself and progressing.

When you feel upset about your dance, try watching some dance videos from your idols and cheer yourself up. While learning salsa, knowing where you’re heading helps to clarify your goals.

3. Build an Efficient Partnership

In an efficient partnership, you and your partner can give each other real feedback, no matter if the feedback is good or bad. Who could be a good partner? Your classmates are often a good choice. Practicing what you learned in class in a different time and settings tests if you really understand what the teacher said. If you have a partner to point out your blind spots, it will definitely help you correct your connection, timing, steps etc. At Flow we have a practica on every Wednesday after salsa classes, which is a perfect chance to practice your moves. There will be teachers and senior students there to give you feedbacks and let you know how you could adjust yourself.

As in travel, dance with a friend, and s/he will help you go far.

4. Record Yourself to Track Your Progress

I know as a beginner it’s not easy to record your dancing- with no background for dancing and without learning for long, you may feel the video is a disaster. But trust me, the sooner you start to video yourself, the faster you will progress.

Even when we are taking the same Salsa class as our classmates, we all have our own bad habits and things we *think* we understand but actually don’t. Seeing yourself dance in a video helps to see what’s really happening more clearly. Regularly videoing yourself also gives you valuable clues about your progress. Maybe you’re starting to catch the beat; maybe your basic steps are getting better; maybe you’re looking more comfortable and relaxed dancing with a partner…

When you’re able to actually see how you’re growing, you will feel more motivated to keep going (under the premise that you continue taking class and keep practicing XD).

5. Find a Sense of Belonging

Many people have come to a studio not only to cultivate a hobby or learn something new, but also to mingle and connect with people. There are various kinds of activities and events in salsa community, and you will never feel alone during the holidays. If you open yourself up to meeting people from different backgrounds, you may find a sense of belonging. Once you feel comfortable with the community, it will be much easier for you to stay and keep practicing- after all, who will say no to partying with friends? Dancers are always hanging out together- in class, parties, events, going out to eat, going on trips. Feeling you are part of a community that you enjoy is not only good for your dance- it’s good for your life! And when you feel happy and secure in your own community at home, you may find that it’s fun to go explore other communities in other countries, which will continually challenge you and give you opportunities to become a better dancer.

I’ve mentioned 5 methods that I personally find helpful for staying motivated to learn salsa and to keep progressing and gaining more self awareness at different stages of dancing.

In my next article, I will share about ‘inner motivation’ to help you think about the connection between you and dance.

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