For the past 10 weeks, I participated in a salsa performance class cycle through the Baila Society (BASO) that culminated in a dance showcase. The design of the program was to allow participants to train like professionals and to get a taste of what it would be like to actually be a part of the dance company. The showcase event took place in a professional black box theater, and there were professional photographers and videographers to capture the entire night. I was kind of disheartened because I messed up at the very beginning (the part that I knew the best and that we’ve been practicing the longest), but I reasoned with myself that I: 1) finished strong 2) should be proud of myself for completing the process.
The training experience was especially trying at the beginning because the instructors front loaded the choreography and left the remaining few weeks to clean things up. At times, I found myself being really frustrated because we would learn a lot of choreography at one time, and I struggled to keep up. On top of that, since salsa is a partner dance, it was a little embarrassing to go from partner to partner making it known that you didn’t know what the hell was going on–some people were more understanding than others but that’s for another post. Secondly, this took up way more of my time than I expected. Not only did we have official once a week practices with our instructors but we were also expected to have extra practices with our partners–ya’ll I didn’t know this for signing up and my reading definitely suffered.
Fast forward to actually getting the video. The mistake I made at the beginning was really minor and the rest of my performance definitely made up for it. I knew that I was in the front row for a majority of the show, so even though being so much in the spotlight made me a bit nervous, it was also motivation to make sure I knew what I was doing. It worked out because I did pretty damn good and got great pictures. Check out the video below.
Now that it’s all said and done, I can tell that my confidence as a dancer has definitely improved. I am also a far better social dancer. I wasn’t sure how learning choreographed moves would help with the impromptu-ness of social dancing but somehow the skills transferred. At the end of the night, I danced with the team’s instructor, and I felt like an absolute boss. I’m learning how to notice subtle cues the leads offer with their hands. I make eye contact, which is a huge deal. My styling has improved so that I don’t have dead hands and arms when I’m dancing.
Salsa dancing (and all dancing in general) is great cardio, and wearing heels gives me a good leg workout (and irritates my hamstrings). It seems that many people have an aversion or temerity towards dancing in heels whether it be street stilettos or any type of ballroom dancing, but honestly, the benefits are worth it. It’s also a great confidence boost.
What’s next for me in the salsa streets? Since I’m still studying for my qualifying exams, I definitely can’t make anymore long-term commitments, but I would like to continue social dancing as a way to maintain the relationships I’ve built during the performance class and to continue to improve my social dancing skills. I really enjoy the weekly class I was taking before, so I will continue with that, and I’m contemplating moving up to the ‘advanced’ section. It will be a bit of a challenge, but honestly, intermediate is a bit boring at this point.