How to learn Patterns and Footwork faster

BIG Salsa Festival 2014

Have you ever taken a class that everybody seems to get but for you it’s impossible?

Or with footwork, you never have trouble learning combinations and patterns but with footwork your struggle and it’s almost impossible to learn. I’ve met people who say that footwork is very hard and partner-work easy!

If you are reading this is because you want to know how to learn patterns and footwork faster, unfortunately there is no secret formula, but we will give you some tips that will make you a master at doing combinations and footwork.

Tips to learn Patterns faster!

1- All patterns are divided in “building blocks” (On1 or On2 are the same, just different counts) If you learn this building blocks and how to play around with them you can analyze better the patterns that the instructor is teaching. What are the building blocks? The building blocks are the things you learned in beginner’s class, the right turn, the left turn, cross-body lead, enchufla, copa, and more. If you have your fundamentals down 90% of the patterns you will learn fall into this orthodox moves with a little flair added on (Off-Count CBL, Ch-o-Direction, etc.).

2- Have the timing down and see how the instructor “times” his moves. Oftentimes we think we can do a pattern, but when executing it we struggle at some section, sometimes there are regular moves doing things at irregular counts, analyze the instructor and observe how is he/she linking the pattern together.

3- Technique! Practice your technique, we can always improve on this. Maybe the patterns is not coming out right because of hand placement, maybe you are doing an extra wrong step; see if you can make the pattern look exactly as the instructor’s.

Tips to learn Footwork faster!

1- The most important thing in footwork is having the counts down! Observe carefully the counts that the footwork pattern hits! Is it a regular 1,2,3,5,6,7 count? or is it something more unorthodox like a 1 and 2 and 3? or 1 and 3 and 5? You need to know the difference between counts and how it affects the footwork pattern.

2- We as humans learn differently, some of us learn by observing and some of us learn by analyzing. If you see someone else is learning the footwork very fast or you feel you can’t keep up, don’t get discouraged! calm down and try your hardest to learn what you can, some people are in teams and learn footwork faster, some people have danced for years and years and some people just learn super-fast, that doesn’t make you a worse dancer, we learn differently.

3- Listen to the music!! In footwork more than in patterns a lot of times the footwork follows the music to the pitch, that means that some section of the footwork occurs at a moment in the music, hear and feel the music and observe where are the changes in accordance with the footwork.

Extra Tips

4- If possible record the pattern and/or footwork and try to break it down further, observe little details you couldn’t see at the class and then try to change some of the things you learned.

5- Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice… This is the single most important thing you need to do if you want to learn anything in life.

Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoyed this tips.

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