Suelto! Soloing in Salsa Dancing
We all know salsa as a form of social dance involving two participants who engage in a spontaneous call and response of movement. Usually their hands or a closed frame position will connect them, creating a conversation of push and pull. So what happens when the dancing duo separates? Every so often, the lead and follow will briefly detach to engage in a free style solo where each dancer moves and expresses themself individually. This can be very intimidating to the new dancer when in actuality it should be a fun! Below find tips and tricks for “bailando suelto”!
Just because you and your partner are not physically connected, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not dancing together anymore. You will quickly be able to read if your partner is using the solo time to take a personal mini dance break, or to continue engaging in call and response. You can mirror your partner’s movements or even build on them. For example, the lead might throw a shoulder shimmy in the follow’s direction, and the follow might one-up it by doing a shoulder shimmy that continues down to their hips. A playful dance challenge between the lead and follow can be extremely fun and result in an unexpected and adventurous conversation of movement.
Know the Basics
When all else fails, keep your basic step going! If the idea of improvising is intimidating, feel confident by continuing your salsa basic to the time of the music. Adding arms and attitude can be enough to spice up your solo time before connecting with your partner again.
What do you hear? Use the instruments featured in the forefront of the music to inspire your movement. In this clip, you’ll see how one dancer interprets the lively horn section differently than how he interprets the dynamic drum solos.
Soloing is a great opportunity to play with timing. Give yourself permission to dance outside of the 1, 2 and 3 (or 2, 3 and 4 for you mamboists!). Salsa offers a lot of room for syncopation and dancing on the clave.
Fancy footwork, intricate isolations, y mas! Watch other dancers to see what’s out there and to get ideas for creating your own movement. Salsa clubs and youtube are great resources for seeking inspiration from others. This youtube clip features a young dancer embodying and enthusing fast feet, ease, and style.
Soloing is the best time to self-express and get creative. Rely on yourself and what you feel and already know. Think outside the box and do what hasn’t been done before. If you have other dance experience, showcase it. In this clip you see how a hip-hopper fuses his b-boy skills with his Latin dance talents.
Ok, maybe it detracts from the idea of being in the moment, but it can’t hurt to have a plan or a few tricks up your sleeve. Learn some short solo salsa combinations and bust them out when the time is right. Just be prepared for the unknown. Your partner might reconnect before you finish your baby choreography, or a crowded dance floor might inhibit previously planned movement. Adjust accordingly!
Article by Bella Ballroom instructor, Ziva. Bella Ballroom Dance Studio can help you with all of the hottest solo and partner dancing moves. Visit our dance classes in Orange County page for more info.