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Lesson 3: Using Your Words

"Salsa Bachata Class Accelerator" Lesson 3: Using Your Words

The video below is part of a paid program on one of our sister sites. We're giving the program away for free here at Movers and Shakers.

This "Local Class Learning Accelerator" series is about learning how to learn.

The series will teach you to squeeze the absolute most benefit from your salsa and bachata classes.

The series is meant to be completed in order, so start from Lesson 1.

Audio Transcript: Below is the audio transcript of this lesson. Headers have been added.


Alright, so we're going to talk about using our words during class. This is really one of my favorites. It's so, so effective. When I finally discovered this in class, it changed my life a lot with my own dance journey.

Using Your Voice During Dance Classes

So, what you're going to do is, when you're in class, you should always be using your mouth. Now, the way that classes are run is basically the instructor is doing 99% of the talking, and maybe 100%, the students are doing almost no talking. We're just watching and then copying.

So, instead of doing that, what I want you to do is start, at the very minimum, you can start with counting.

1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, or you're dancing on 2. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 1, and it's going to feel kind of silly at first, but you don't have to do it super loud, but just a little bit.

If the person next to you can hear you, fine. I mean, it should be loud enough that you can hear yourself 100%.  Now, there's a few reasons for this. The first thing is it keeps you focused and keeps you engaged.

Overcoming Distractions in Dance Classes

Personally, I have struggled with this a lot in dance classes. I remember when I was enrolled in ballet, I would catch myself, every 60 seconds, focusing on something other than dance and other than what was happening right in front of me. It's like, they put the music on, you do the movement, okay, they stop the music, they explain the next pattern, the next movements.

Then while they're explaining it, I was always drifting off. I was thinking about lunch, I was thinking about that something happened the day before, maybe I was exhausted, it was just hard to focus in general. It's really hard to focus.

So, focus is a huge part of actually getting the information. When you use your voice, it forces you to put your focus on what's happening right in front of you and that can make a huge difference for actually internalizing the material. So, that's the first thing.

Create Your Own Cues to Describe Moves

The second thing is that it makes whatever you're looking at more tangible and we talked about this in another video. Basically, if the instructor is doing this big pattern -  go here, go here, go here, go here. Usually, here is not a good thing because it's very intangible.

So, you need to say - this is happening, that's happening. Okay, turn left. Okay, turn right. Okay, flare, boom, boom, boom. You can use any words for what you're seeing to describe it. The only thing that matters is that it's meaningful to you.

So, if the instructor does a movement and you think, oh, that reminds me of an ice skater. I don't think you can see my feet right now, but that's fine. Basically, you do a movement, the feet are coming out, you think of an ice skater. You go, okay, big pattern, ice skater and then it has meaning for you and it's much more tangible. But it's not just thinking it, it's actually saying it out loud.

You're going to sound like a crazy person saying all the stuff in class. Who cares? All that matters is that you're getting what you need in class because you're taking your money and your time to be in that class. So, you should get everything out of that class that you can. And it's much more fun when you have a successful class and you actually get the material in your body.

So, the first thing is using your words to stay focused. The second thing is using your words to make tangible whatever is happening, and then the third thing, it comes back to focus but in a different context.

How to Effectively Focus on a Certain Pattern or Move

Let's say the instructor gives you a pattern and there's 10 different elements that you have to or that you should be thinking about. An example I really often give is a right turn. So, a right turn follows, the hand comes up, the elbow, we want it right in front of the shoulder here. So, keeping the elbow down, when you step forward, you're going to step right in front of yourself. The foot's turned out, allow the hips to go a little bit to the left.

Keep this here the entire time, wrist stays straight, make sure you spot. And then come around, turn with the feet together and on the balls of the feet if you can. That's a ton of detail. So, you're not going to get all those details immediately. But instead, if you get just one single detail into your muscle memory in that class, that is a success.

That is more of a success than trying to get 10 things and getting zero, and I see that a lot. Students come to class week after week making the same mistakes and they know what to fix up here, but it's not happening and there's a lot of different reasons for that. But, right now, what we're talking about is what you can do in class to start fixing that thing while you're in class.

Use Your Cues and Say It Out Loud

So, what you will do, for example, let's say, okay, right now I'm just going to focus on keeping the elbow down. So, you do your movement, one, two, three, elbow. Say it out loud. And that's going to force you to focus on the elbow. Otherwise, it becomes one, two, oh, I forgot. One, two, oh, I forgot. You'd be amazed how many times in a row people would forget that thing that we're focusing on right at that second. I get it. We're just human. We're distracted by a lot of different things. I'm guilty of it as well.

So, you have to train yourself to focus on the right thing. And using your words is a really effective way of doing that. So, you do your prep, one, two, elbow. Five, six, seven. Okay, let's do it again. One, two, three, elbow. Five, six, seven. Okay, so you focus on this, maybe you forget some other things. I hear that a lot also. Okay, no problem. But at least you're starting to get the elbow into your muscle memory.

Your partner might be wondering what's going on. Just ignore it or explain to them, oh, this helps me focus on this thing that I'm fixing right now. Because you made a decision that you're going to fix that thing right at that moment so, use your words.

Three Ways to Use Your Voice in Class

Use it, just say anything during class.

Count with the instructor, counting is a good one. Count during class because it keeps you focused instead of having your mind wander.

Say out loud what you're seeing or what that looks like to you so that you can make the things more tangible and then say out loud the things that you want to focus on to fix.

So, you can use really all of those during a class. I mean, they come up at different moments. But anyway, those are the three ways that I want you to use your words during class. But remember, all the time, talking, talking, talking, talking because this connects your brain to your body and makes everything more tangible and helps you focus on what you need to to actually improve your dancing. 

Salsa Bachata Class Learning Accelerator Lessons

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