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Salsa: Basic Steps
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My name is Meena Bhasin and I work with the Americas Society / Council of the Americas, a non-profit organization that works to keep the Americas united through cultural, political, and economic initiatives. We are working on musical outreach in public schools and one of the units will be on salsa music and dance. We were wondering if we could get permission to use a brief video from your website for introductory material for the students to learn about this fascinating art form. It will be used to send to schools in the New York area and possibly throughout the country as well.

Thank you very much,
Meena Bhasin


Learning With Us

We endeavour to make our instructional material as safe, fun and easy to understand as possible. However, we regretfully cannot take responsibility for any accidents and injuries you might experience as a result of using this tutorial. You proceed at your own risk.

This page is provided as a possible answer to a difficult question that most beginners face, "Where do I begin?"

Below, I've mapped what I believe to be the most effective route for a patient and tenacious learner to become well versed in Latin dance. It isn't the fastest way, nor is it the easiest. But it is one that I believe will keep your full potential intact. Think of it as a "serving suggestion".

The success of the learning sequence (a.k.a. hierarchy of development) is based on re-iterative learning - newly acquired skills must be applied in the context of all the previous points.

1. Salsa: Basic Steps
First you need some basic vocabulary to get you going. We'll start with three of the most commonly used steps:

Please make sure you read about the video clips and how to use them.

2. Merengue Tutorials
With this tutorial, we start getting your body accustomed to the movement that is characteristic of Latin American dancing.

I often refer to this exercise as "pedalling". Once you mastered it, apply it into your basics above. Pay special attention to applying the pedalling action into your backward steps; they are the most likely to develop errors because they are unsighted.

3. Salsa: Ear Training
Timing is crucial and takes a while to develop. Now's the time, right at the very start, to come to grips with it.

The tutorial assumes familiarity with all the salsa basics, the salsa walks and some of the merengue material. Just do what you can and make a mental note of those points that you can't do for now, and come back to them later. You should be able to do the content at 144bpm, 154bpm, and 165bpm. (Ideally you'd have tried 176bpm as well).

4. Get some music
if you haven't got some already. It puts your ear training in a real world context, gets you dancing into the music, and makes learning much more fun. Check out:

You can take it one step further by counting the beats for yourself, which trains your ear even more. And then you'd realise that some songs are deceptively quick and others deceptively slow. Life with salsa's often unpredictable.

5. Learn the salsa walk
This is a section in two parts. You'll need, in order:

Thereafter you should use it as an exercise component in the ear training and dance techniques listed previously. Also try reinterpreting your salsa basic steps in terms of the walk (e.g. the side-to-side is just three lateral steps alternating in direction).

6. Salsa: Ear Training
Tighten up the timing of your basics and salsa walk using the next tutorial:

7. Salsa: Basic Steps
Extend your basics vocabulary by learning:

Try to re-define them as variations of the salsa walk.

8. Learn about the music of Salsa and Merengue
While getting to grips with the basics, do a little background reading on the structure of Salsa Music and Merengue Music.

9. Salsa: Basic Steps
Complete the basics tutorial by learning:

(To be continued).


1999 Salsa & Merengue Society