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The Science of Building Confidence in Dance: From "Two Left Feet" to Salsa and Bachata Star

Updated: 4 days ago

So, you think you have "two left feet" and want to conquer the dance floors with salsa and bachata? You're not alone! The journey from hesitation to dancing confidently, especially around other people, is entirely possible. Here are seven scientifically-backed ways to quickly build confidence and unleash your inner salsa and bachata star!

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1. Start Small and Set Achievable Goals 

Begin with simple steps and set small, achievable goals. Research shows that breaking tasks into manageable chunks can significantly boost confidence. A study published by Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology" found that goal-setting improves self-efficacy and motivation, leading to better performance and increased confidence

Action Plan:

Learn Basic Steps First

Start with the fundamental steps of salsa and bachata. Don't overwhelm yourself with complex routines right away. By beginning with the basics, you lay a strong foundation to make learning more advanced moves easier later.

Aim to Master One Step Per Week

Focus on perfecting one step at a time. This approach makes the learning process less daunting and more manageable. Setting a goal to master one step each week helps you stay organized and gives you a clear focus.

Celebrate Each Small Victory

Every time you master a step, celebrate it. Recognizing your progress boosts motivation and confidence. Treat yourself to something special or share your achievement with friends and family. Celebrating small wins keeps you positive and eager to continue your dance journey.

2. Practice Regularly

Consistency is key. Regular practice helps ingrain movements into muscle memory, making them feel more natural over time. This process helps integrate new behaviors into your daily routine, enhancing skill acquisition and retention. This method is particularly beneficial for mastering complex dance movements, leading to improved performance and confidence over time.

Research published in the Asian Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology by Munroe-Chandler and Muir (2022) supports this approach, highlighting the impact of training frequency on young dancers’ imagery use and ability.

Action Plan:

Dedicate 15-30 Minutes Daily to Practice

Consistent, short practice sessions are more effective than long, sporadic ones. Setting aside 15-30 minutes daily helps you build a routine and keeps the movements fresh in your mind. Always remember that consistency is key to making progress.

Use Online Tutorials or Join a Dance Class

These resources provide structure and expert guidance. Online tutorials can be beneficial because you can watch them at your own pace and repeat steps as often as needed. Joining a bachata or salsa dance class allows you to learn directly from an instructor and interact with other students.

Practice Before a Mirror to Self-Correct

Watching yourself helps you identify and correct mistakes immediately. Practicing in front of a mirror lets you see exactly how you move. You can spot any errors and adjust your steps right away. This will help you improve faster and learn the correct posture and techniques.

3. Seek Constructive Feedback

Receiving constructive feedback from dance instructors can accelerate your learning curve. Feedback helps learners understand their mistakes and how to improve, which boosts confidence and performance. This guidance is crucial for refining techniques and mastering complex dance moves, ultimately leading to better overall progress and skill development.

Action Plan:

Attend Dance Classes and Ask for Feedback

Instructors can provide valuable insights and corrections. Attending dance classes allows you to learn from experienced teachers who can watch your moves and offer helpful advice. They can show you how to improve and correct any mistakes. Don’t be shy about asking questions—getting feedback from an expert can boost your progress and confidence.

Record and Review Your Practice Sessions

Self-review helps you see your progress and areas needing improvement. By recording your practice sessions, you can watch yourself dance and identify what you’re doing well and what needs fixing. This method allows you to make adjustments and celebrate your progress, which keeps you motivated.

Join a Dance Community or Find a Practice Partner for Mutual Feedback

Support from peers can be incredibly motivating and helpful. Joining a salsa or bachata dance community or finding a practice partner allows you to share experiences and learn together. Practicing with others allows you to give and receive feedback, making learning more fun and effective.

4. Visualize Success 

Visualization is a powerful tool to build confidence. A study in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that soccer players who used visualization techniques improved their performance and confidence levels (Munroe-Chandler et al., 2007). Visualizing yourself dancing gracefully can create a mental blueprint for Success.

Action Plan:

Spend a Few Minutes Each Day Imagining Yourself Dancing Confidently

This mental rehearsal prepares your mind and body for success. Visualizing yourself dancing confidently helps build a positive mindset and prepares you to perform better.

Picture Yourself Enjoying the Music and Moving Smoothly

Focus on the positive aspects of dancing. Imagining yourself having fun and moving smoothly boosts your confidence and makes dancing more enjoyable.

Use Visualization Before Practice Sessions to Set a Positive Tone

This sets the stage for a productive practice session. Visualizing success before you start helps you stay motivated and focused during practice.

5. Embrace a Positive Mindset 

A positive mindset can significantly impact your confidence. Self-affirmation exercises, such as positive self-talk, can enhance confidence and reduce performance anxiety. By regularly practicing self-affirmation, you can boost your self-esteem and approach challenges with a more positive outlook. This mental shift helps you handle pressure better and improves overall performance in various activities.

Action Plan: 

Replace Negative Thoughts with Positive Affirmations

Instead of thinking, "I can't do this," tell yourself, "I am improving every day daily." Positive self-talk boosts your confidence and motivation.

Remind Yourself of Your Progress and Potential

Keep track of your achievements and how far you've come. Regularly acknowledging your progress helps maintain a positive mindset.

Surround Yourself with Supportive and Encouraging People

A positive environment fosters confidence. Being around supportive people encourages you and makes your dance journey more enjoyable.

6. Learn from Mistakes

Mistakes are part of the learning process. Embracing them can turn setbacks into valuable lessons. Having a growth mindset, which views challenges and failures as learning opportunities, can significantly enhance confidence and resilience.

Action Plan:

Analyze and Learn from Your Mistakes

Each mistake is an opportunity to improve. When you make a mistake, take a moment to understand what went wrong and how you can fix it. Learning from these errors helps you grow and become a better dancer.

Don't Be Afraid to Experiment and Try New Moves

Experimentation leads to discovery and growth. While trying new moves might feel challenging, it helps you learn and expand your skills. Embrace the process of experimenting, as it can lead to surprising improvements.

Keep a Journal of Your Dance Journey to Track Improvements

Reflecting on your progress helps you see the bigger picture. Write down what you’ve learned, your challenges, and your achievements. This journal will help you track your growth over time and remind you how far you’ve come.

7. Stay Physically and Mentally Healthy

Physical fitness can enhance your dance performance and confidence. Regular exercise improves overall body coordination, stamina, and self-esteem. Incorporating regular physical fitness routines into your schedule can improve your dance skills and help you approach performances with greater assurance and reduced stress. This holistic approach supports both the physical and mental aspects of dance.

Action Plan:

Incorporate Physical Exercise

Add exercises like stretching, strength training, and cardio into your routine. These exercises improve your overall fitness and dancing ability. Regular physical activity helps you build strength, flexibility, and stamina, essential for becoming a better dancer.

Ensure You Get Enough Rest and Eat Healthily

Proper nutrition and rest are essential for peak performance. Eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep help your body recover and perform at its best during practice and dance sessions.

Practice Mindfulness or Relaxation Techniques to Stay Mentally Sharp

Meditation can reduce stress and improve focus. Taking time to relax and clear your mind helps you stay calm and concentrated, making your dance practice more effective and enjoyable.


Building confidence in salsa and bachata is a journey that combines patience, practice, and positivity. You can transform your dancing skills by focusing on achievable goals, consistent practice, and a supportive mindset.

Remember to embrace feedback, visualize your success, and learn from mistakes. With dedication and enthusiasm, you'll soon find yourself moving with grace and confidence on the dance floor. Enjoy the dance and celebrate every step of your progress! 

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Bachata and Salsa Classes in Los Angeles

If you're looking for beginner bachata or salsa classes in Los Angeles, come join us at Movers and Shakers.

Our programs are structured and comprehensive, you'll learn proper technique from day one so you can become confident to slay on the dance floor.

Join our inclusive community today and become part of the Movers and Shakers family as you learn the art of Latin dancing.



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