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dance team

LEVEL UP! DANCING YOUR WAY UP TO A SEMI-PRO SALSA DANCE TEAM

Naldine

When I first started social dancing in the winter of 2017, joining a team wasn’t part of my plan. Instead, dancing was more of a hobby to spice up my monotonous life. My plans changed on Saturday, January 26, 2019, when I attended “Sabado de Rumba,” a social hosted by Rhythmology twice a month. Out of nowhere, Alfred asked me to attend team practice that upcoming Tuesday. Talk about short notice. Before I even responded, my mind screamed, “Hell yeah!” The universe delivered an opportunity that I couldn’t reject, and I’m proud to be part of an all-women dance team with six other talented dancers. I’m here to tell you that if I could make it on a dance team in less than a full year of dancing, so can you!

7 Simple Ways to Get on a Dance Team

Ask, and You Shall Receive. If you don’t knock, you’ll never know if someone will open that door. Asking is the easiest way to receive. If you’re interested in joining your studio’s dance team, speak to the team director about your intentions. The worst that can happen is a flat, “No,” but that doesn’t mean that you give up. Continue mastering your dancing skills and ask again until you hear a “Yes.” 

Audition for the Team. Most dance companies recruit new dance team members and hold auditions seasonally. Auditioning is your chance to shine and show them what you got. Therefore, don’t be afraid to try out the old-school way for a spot on the team and bring on the heat!

Act Like You’re the Prize. Confidence plays a role in claiming your spot on a team. Ask yourself why wouldn’t they want you on the team? You’re an asset and bring significant value. According to the law of attraction, things flow to you when you act as if you have it already. Therefore, don’t sell yourself short or doubt your ability to join a semi-professional team. You got this!

Invest in Private Classes. Last year, I took weekly private classes from January to July. Yes. If you do the math, that’s seven months of 1-1 practice sessions. During those seven months, I had the opportunity to improve my dancing skills with focus and determination. Private classes also allowed me to jump from Salsa Level 2 to Salsa Level 4. Therefore, I recommend that you put in the time and work to elevate your dance skills.

Go to Socials and Dance Events. Believe it or not, the instructors monitor your progress, even at socials! You might think that you’re invisible, but they’re watching. Socials are an excellent opportunity to stand out and show off your versatility. It might lead to an offer to join a dance team like in my situation.

Make Friends with People on the Team. The power of networking is real. Sometimes, who you know is the key to opening the door of opportunity. Therefore, if you’re friends with someone on the team, he or she can put in a word for you and help you get on the team. It’s also an excellent opportunity to see if the team is the right fit for you. 

Say Yes to the Showcase. Even if you’re not asked to be on the team, you can volunteer to dance at your studio’s student showcase. Rhythmology hosts two student showcases annually, and I had the opportunity of performing at the “Step It Up” Showcase last year. Participating in the show will prepare you for what it takes to be a performer. So go for it!

Life is about elevation and self-mastery. Dare to try something new or step outside of your box. Don’t be deterred because you feel like you’re not “team level” good. I was only in Salsa level 4 when I joined the team with less than a full year of experience. So you don’t have to be in Salsa Level 8 to join. Dancing on a team will challenge you mentally and physically, and you’ll share that unique journey with your dance mates. Therefore, I challenge you to level up!

 

 

body movement

7 BODY TRICKS TO BRING YOUR SALSA “SHINES” TO LIFE

Naldine

~ Your Body Is a Work of Art

Are you ready to take your dancing skills to the next level? If so, you’re in the right place! If you’ve attended classes at Rhythmology, you’ll learn powerful body techniques to stand out on the dance floor. The subtle nuances of body movement that most dancers overlook are what will make you look like a pro. Over the past year and a half, I’ve studied from amazing Rhythmologists, and I’m sharing my notes for free! Keep reading if you’re ready to learn how to be a Rhythmologist, aka, a dancer, who studies the movement and feels the rhythm. 

Your Body Language Matters

Dancing is more than doing the steps. It’s an art, and our bodies are vehicles of self-expression. Therefore, the way we move our bodies on the dance floor matters tremendously. 

When I first learned the Salsa shines, I focused entirely on memorizing the steps and neglected technique. My brain couldn’t juggle all the moving parts like timing, styling my arms, or connecting with my partner. Over time, I grew comfortable with the steps and shifted my focus on movement and connection. I’m also thankful for Rhythmology instructors, Alfred and Bryan, who didn’t hesitate to give me constructive advice.

Nowadays, I’m learning how to apply these body techniques to elevate my dancing. Think of these tips like checking and adjusting your body before you hit the dance floor. I promise that you’ll notice a difference in the quality of your dancing. If you want to take it a step further, I recommend that you take the weekly seminars on body movement and musicality with my favorites, Bryan and Luis. 

Check Your Body Before You Hit the Dance Floor

Stand Like a Royal. Royals like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle mastered the art of body posture and carry themselves with poise and confidence. I’m guilty of sitting and standing with slumped shoulders, but a firm stance is fundamental in social dancing. So pretend you’re a royal and straighten your spine, lift your chest, tuck your belly and push your shoulders down. If you feel movement from your back muscles, then you’re dancing correctly.

Raise Your Arms. Your arms should never flap aimlessly down your side while social dancing. Instead, position your arms at an obtuse angle to maintain your frame in solo and partner dancing. 

Position Your Feet at 11 and 1 O’Clock. I still struggle to remember this technique, but Alfred says that our feet must be slightly turned out while dancing. It feels awkward to perform the shines in this position, but you’ll look like an advanced dancer. 

Bring Your Energy Forward. Social dancing requires us to dance on the balls of our feet. Therefore, bringing our energy forward as opposed to backward prevents us from dancing on flat feet. Further, bringing the energy forward creates a stronger connection while dancing with a partner. I can’t deny that social dancing sometimes feels like an invasion of personal space, but physical closeness is part of the connection.

Inhale and Exhale. I recently took a class with Rhythmology instructor, Mitchell, and he brought up this vital tip. Most of us forget to breathe while dancing. Breathing helps our muscles relax and reduce tension. So don’t look lifeless on the dance floor and forget to breathe. It’s the most natural thing on this list to do.

Ready, Set, Dance!

Once you’ve aligned your posture, feet, arms, and energy, you’re ready to hit that dance floor and shine!

Caress the Floors. I stole this line from Alfred, who helped me visualize how to move my feet. The Salsa shines involve a lot of knee bending and the shifting of our weight. However, we sometimes lift our feet off the floor like we’re marching. Instead, we must stay grounded and brush the floors with our feet.  

Emphasize Counts 4 and 8. As you know, the Salsa steps involve a sequence of eight counts. However, counts four and eight are silent. Even though we consider these counts to be “breaks” or “pauses,” they still require energy. Therefore, use these counts to propel the next step. 

Remember, the dance floor is your canvas. Dig deeper beyond the steps and create art with your body. You have what it takes to be a Rhythmologist! 

SHE SAID “YES” TO THE SHOWCASE: THE JOURNEY TO HISTORIA DE UN TAXI

Who knew that my private lessons with Alfred would lead to performing at the “Step It Up” Showcase last July. The old me would have waited until mastering the Salsa levels before my debut on stage. Alfred, however, had other plans and believed in my potential before I did. His belief was enough for me to rise to the challenge and commit to the process.

In hindsight, I’m happy I said yes when my mind told me, “No. You’re not ready yet. You’re only in Salsa Level 2.” The journey to “Historia de un Taxi” was an unforgettable learning experience and I can’t wait to perform again.

Lessons Learned During My Journey to the Showcase

  1. Being Bossy with the Boss Is Against the Rules. I feel out of control as a “follower” in Latin social dancing. In my world, I run things, but the Latin dance world doesn’t allow for two bosses. Therefore, learning to trust my leader is still a work in progress. Sometimes, you have to be humble and play your role ladies. Towards the end of the journey, I grasped the challenging concept of “follow and lead.” If Alfred asked if I was ready or knew my steps, I threw the ball back in his court and replied, “I’m just following your lead.” 
  2. Don’t Be Afraid to Participate in the Creative Process. From the beginning, I expressed my likes and dislikes about the music, costume and dance moves. I fell in love with the song “Historia de un Taxi” by Ricardo Arjona because of its catchy intro. Thanks to Google translation, it was more fun dissecting the lyrics of that song with Alfred. To add a more feminine touch to our routine, Brianna Cruz choreographed my stellar entrance. Lastly, Alfred and I chose the beautiful yellow costume owned and designed by Aleksandra “Ola” Kozlowska. It was an honor to wear that piece. Ultimately, teamwork makes the dream work, and we created a masterpiece!
  3. Just Do It like the Nike Tagline. Like the old me, don’t wait until you’re ready to commit to new things. I’m learning to say yes to opportunities that I fear because there’s growth on the other side. So face your fears and do it!
  4. Small Progress Is Still Progress. My goal was to achieve a double split and leg hold by the showcase. The good news is that I can touch my toes and do a right split. If I weren’t performing at the showcase, I would never start stretching or take dance classes more seriously. Like Cassie’s throwback song, I still have a long way to go, but I’m proud of my small milestones. 
  5. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. Dancing with an amazing leader like Alfred is intimidating, but he is extremely supportive and exudes positive energy all the time. The reality is that not all leaders are like Alfred. So dancing in a room full of other seasoned dancers can be more daunting. Instead of comparing myself to my peers, I cheered them on and observed the qualities that set them apart from inexperienced dancers like me. So put aside your pride and be a student, take notes and be open to constructive criticism. Also, remember that there’s room for you in the spotlight too. 
  6. Smile and Hold Your Head Up High. I’m not going to lie. I didn’t perform the routine flawlessly as I imagined in my mind countless times. Despite the mishaps, I never lost my smile during that routine. I was present over perfect, and that alone gave me peace of mind after my performance.

If you’re interested in performing, go for it and say yes to the showcase! Also, check out some videos below of my practice sessions with Alfred and Brianna where you’ll see the “real” journey.

 

 

 

eye contact, connection

5 FUN TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR SOCIAL LATIN DANCE SKILLS!

Naldine

~ Listen Closely. Feel Deeply. Look Beyond. Dance Freely ~

As the modified saying goes, practice makes permanent (not perfect)! It’s plain simple. You’re capable of developing good dancing habits if you commit to the process. Stop making excuses and become the great dancer that you aspire to be. Check out some great tips below and practice them until they stick!

  1. Listen to the Music

The “hustle and bustle” of New York makes it difficult to stop and be present in the moment. Latin dancing, however, requires us to pause and listen carefully to the music. Musicality is an important skill that determines your timing to different styles of dance like Salsa, Bachata, Cha-Cha or the Tango. That’s why you must listen and feel the beat to move to the rhythm. You can improve your dancing skills today by listening more to Latin music. You don’t even have to speak or understand Spanish to decipher the rhythm. If you need music recommendations, follow Rhythmology’s Salsa playlist on Spotify today!

  1. Ladies, It’s Okay to Let Him Lead!

In Latin dance, the man leads, and the woman follows. This sounds quite simple, but most new Latin dancers including myself struggle with this concept. If you’re anything like me, it’s difficult to let go of control and trust a stranger. However, I’ve learned that there shouldn’t be a power struggle between the man and the woman in Latin social dancing. Otherwise, you’ll look like a couple fighting on the dance floor. No Bueno! Latin dancing is about kindling a genuine connection and communicating through body language. The man and woman rely heavily upon their hands to transmit signals between them. For example, the man will spin his partner by using his hand and fingers.

Remember ladies, following your leader, isn’t an invitation to be passive or submissive. You’re not a prop or an accessory to the man. You’re equally important and must still do your part and pay attention to his signals! The next time you dance with a partner, I challenge you to keep calm and follow his lead. Over time, it will become second nature, and you’ll look like a pro on the dance floor.

  1. Make Eye Contact

This might be extremely awkward at first, but eye contact is a great way to connect with your partner. Dancing with your head down does not exude confidence and might cause you to bump heads.  So don’t be afraid to look into your partner’s eyes and break the awkwardness with a warm smile or “small talk.” Trust me, smiling works and that’s my go-to move in awkward situations like dancing with a stranger.  For couples, eye contact increases intimacy and creates a deeper connection. There is nothing more appealing in Latin dance than expressing love on the dance floor.

  1. Let Go of Your Inhibitions and Just Dance!

Why do we become so self-conscious around others yet we confidently dance in front of the mirror when no one is watching? Dancing should be a fun and relaxing experience whether we’re in the comfort of our homes or outside our comfort zones. Don’t overthink and just let your body move effortlessly. Everyone has rhythm. We’re often too focused on comparing our dancing skills to others that it blocks our ability to release the rhythm within us.

I admit that I struggle with the overthinking part a lot. Sometimes, my body naturally stiffens when I’m overthinking the counts or steps. However, we must relax our arms to properly give or receive signals, as we discussed in the second tip. Remember just to let the music take over and dance.

  1. Be Patient

It takes time to develop strong dancing skills. Be easy on yourself and don’t rush the process. It’s okay to step on your partner’s foot or be off beat from time to time. It’s not the end of the world if you turned the opposite way or forgot to shift your weight. Take the time to learn from these mishaps and practice until you improve. Self-awareness is the key to succeed as a dancer. If you find yourself struggling with the dance steps or rhythm, then sign up for private lessons. Private lessons are less intimidating than a group class or a social at a club. So don’t wait to schedule a private class today to hone your dancing skills! You’ll thank me later. 

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