"Lesson plan" for one-time salsa class?

#1
So, I will be teaching my second-ever official salsa/bachata class as part of a charity event in two weeks organized by European Commission trainees here in Luxembourg, and am wondering if anyone could share a sample 'lesson plan' for a 1-hour salsa class for basic beginners? We'll also teach a 1-hour bachata class but I think that one is more straightforward. I have taught a few people 1-on-1 over the years on an impromptu basis and also gave my first 'official' beginner class in Cuba to a group of Americans who asked me to (first time I actually made money from salsa instead of just spending it :p ), but have never taught a basic beginner linear salsa class and I know there are many people who teach on this thread, so please share from your expertise. :)

I will try not to overload them with history and music explanations since time will be limited, but I do think I would like to start with a 5-minute 'overview' of 'what is salsa' (which is of course impossible to do in 5 minutes :p ).

Many thanks!
 
Last edited:
#2
Cool. "We" is several people teaching or just you?
You are all supposed to be highly educated so no need to dumb it down. Hopefully no one has to translate into 28 languages:p.

>Salsa is based on "clave" which means rhythm key. Much of West African derived music is based on rhythm key rather than tonal key of European music. ... Cuba reference... PR/NY reference...
tatata... modern versions have made their way back to the EU... one of the best bands in salsa today, Tromboranga Orquesta, is based in Barcelona (which is still part of the EU :p).
It is the music of immigration, both forced and voluntary (sociopolitical angle :p)... and here we go... explaining steps, weight shift.. bla bla<
 
#3
I will try not to overload them with history and music explanations since time will be limited
It's about what those students are there for.

*If...they were there because they wanted to learn some salsa history - you could spend the entire lesson doing just that!

*if...they were there because they wanted guidance becoming better dancers - you could spend the entire lesson teaching "proper technique!"

*if...they were there because they found your dancing admirable - you could spend the entire lesson showing off...

-But chances are your students are there just to have fun, dancing some salsa. (And that's it).

---

*Keep the stories to SF~
*Keep it simple.
*And keep them students active! All the time!
 
#4
I don't teach, but I was asked several times to help out. It is very important to show people a little bit how salsa looks like. I mean dance a little bit with your parthner. It set people in a positive mood.
 
#5
The 1 hour classes I assist in start out like this:

5- minute of dancing to music.
This is normally when ppl are in line and you are at the front.
Usually the teach is talking out loud 123-567 or QQS-QQS.
May lead them in right turn or side step or suzy q.

These first 5 minutes are used to get ppl moving and having fun. Even if they don't know the steps yet. A lot of ppl are nervous and it helps break the ice. It also allows the teacher to see what level the students are at and adjust accordingly.

Then 10-20 min of instruction or footwork.
If very beginners you may really want to break down the steps, how to move the body, how to move the arms. Break down how to do a right turn. Again this all depends on the skill level of the students and how much you think they can get. Music is also brought back in after the breakdown, so they can do what you just broke down to music a few times.

Maybe have 4-8 8counts of footwork prepared (unless you are good at thinking on the fly to the music). They may get the basics really fast and then you teach them a footwork pattern.

At the 30 min mark or so, it would be good to teach partnerwork. You can always go into this earlier if wanted. Of course depending on the level, it would depend on what you teach. For beginners, it is good to teach about connection for open and closed position. Teach the guys how to lead a right turn, teach the girls how to follow the right turn. Perhaps a cross body lead, into a guy doing a right turn immediately followed by the girl do another right turn.
If you have some intermediate ppl in the class, give them some extra ladies styling to do during the turns. Or for guys, different ways to lead the turn.
If most of the ppl are more intermediate be ready with a slightly more complex pattern that you like. This part is really up to but just be ready to adjust on the fly.
Rotate the guys (or ladies) ever so often throughout the partnerwork section. Go according to your feeling.
If possible, rotate in with the guys so you can give them direct feedback. Also if you have an assistant, have him rotate in with the girls to give feedback.
Then have them try the pattern to music. You may have to count to get everyone started on the right timing. We always have the ppl in a circle around us at first. This way we are doing it to music also with them at first. Then after rotating a few times, separate from your assistant to help the couples.

At the end offer them to record. Have them record what you taught at the beginning of the class with a quick breakdown summary (without music). If you did a footwork pattern, then record it to music also. (Usually do the footwork with the ppl behind you when recording). Then record partnerwork without music while breaking down. Then record to music. Make sure to record doing the pattern from both sides. Here you can have some fun and do some extra stuff that wasn't taught after showing the pattern. Ppl always love to watch great dancers (which you are one) and to look forward to something to learn next time. Or just stop at the pattern, up to you. :)

For music, pick stuff that is on the slower side like Acid by Ray Barreto. Something that has fun, and clear to pick up the beat. Make it as easy as possible for them to "feel" the music.
 
Last edited:
#6
Nice gig !..
1... Use a merengue for a warm up, as you know, it's easy and fun

1. A.... Demo what you are going to teach. i.e. Fwd/ back Basic without music then with .
2...Underarm turn, walked (people have a penchant for turns ! )
3...CBL.....something to get their collective teeth into.
4...Use at least 3 different songs of med / med fast pace .
5...Keep techn to a minimum .Hold and Frame are a priority .
Explanations.. Important to let them know there are different styles and music may dictate them .
 

vit

Son Montuno
#7
>Salsa is based on "clave" which means rhythm key. Much of West African derived music is based on rhythm key rather than tonal key of European music. ... Cuba reference... PR/NY reference...
tatata... modern versions have made their way back to the EU...
Pretty much all social dancing music, whether west african or non west african has both rhythm and melody, because on music without "rhythm key" most people can't dance, so 99% of attendants of the class would have no idea what are you talking about. It's just that salsa music has slightly more complex rhythm - which is of 0 relevance for people learning basic steps
 
#9
I have not formally taught salsa, but had helped in practice sessions for beginners. I also attended several beginner classes after reaching an intermediate level. Here is my takeaway from those classes:

1. Have a short verbal introduction about you and what salsa is. What type of salsa you will teach and so on.
2. Demonstrate salsa dancing to a well know song with your partner (oh yea, having a partner is a must, don't teach solo).
3. Start out with everyone being solo, introduce them to the basic steps like mambo, rumba, etc.
4. Get them to pair up and make a circle (rueda), teach how to do do the dance hold and the basic steps together.
5. The figures taught are usually un tarrito and exhibela or something else that is easy to grasp like dile que si.

When deciding on music, consider songs from monder pop music, that everyone can relate to. Many of these have salsa transcriptions, which are quite good. You can have some authentic music mixed in as well, but the rythm of salsa is hard to hear at first (took me half a year to get the hang of it), so pick wisely.

Throughout the whole session, do not just teach outright, have downtime sessions, where you have the class dance in rueda.
The goal should not be to teach them much, but to make them feel good about salsa. Nobody can learn to dance in one hour, but if they have fun, they will enroll in a dancing school.
 
#10
When deciding on music, consider songs from monder pop music, that everyone can relate to. Many of these have salsa transcriptions, which are quite good. You can have some authentic music mixed in as well, but the rythm of salsa is hard to hear at first (took me half a year to get the hang of it)
Are you familiar with the expression 'wrong on so many levels'?
 
#12
When deciding on music, consider songs from monder pop music, that everyone can relate to.


Nobody can learn to dance in one hour, but if they have fun, they will enroll in a dancing school.
Your summary is VERY Cuban oriented . It shows how lacking you are in the general publics intro into the genre.. The style in most cities ( NY excepted ) is more geared to a CB/LA style on 1. There are small pockets of on 2 classes but are well outnumbered ( and this is empirical evidence ) .

As to music , WHY would I shy away from indigenous music to which the majority of clubs play ? ( Cant speak for the UK as a whole )
Traditional. Music exposure is critical to the learning process. IF the musical teaching selections are to reflect the style , then "Pop" is a no go ..

And, if you believe that attending one class means a surge of students, I only wish that were true !!
 
#13
Your summary is VERY Cuban oriented
Whoah, whoah. Outside of rueda what makes you think this is geared towards Cuban style?

Plenty of teachers choose a superficial approach to teaching dancing regardless of style. If I teach casino the first things I teach are the connection between partners and then move to closed position footwork that moves them around the dance floor a bit while keeping the focus on getting the rhythm.

What this guy describes is not the standard for where I come from!
--------------------
As far as what to teach, I'd say my experience says to get people into partnering as soon as possible. It's OK to do two or three different steps separately but soon thereafter they need to do it with someone or they'll internalize the stepping rather than focusing on being able to lead/follow.

Plus, that's the whole point of salsa - to dance WITH someone!
 
#14
I have not formally taught salsa, but had helped in practice sessions for beginners. I also attended several beginner classes after reaching an intermediate level. Here is my takeaway from those classes:

1. Have a short verbal introduction about you and what salsa is. What type of salsa you will teach and so on.
2. Demonstrate salsa dancing to a well know song with your partner (oh yea, having a partner is a must, don't teach solo).
3. Start out with everyone being solo, introduce them to the basic steps like mambo, rumba, etc.
4. Get them to pair up and make a circle (rueda), teach how to do do the dance hold and the basic steps together.
5. The figures taught are usually un tarrito and exhibela or something else that is easy to grasp like dile que si.

When deciding on music, consider songs from monder pop music, that everyone can relate to. Many of these have salsa transcriptions, which are quite good. You can have some authentic music mixed in as well, but the rythm of salsa is hard to hear at first (took me half a year to get the hang of it), so pick wisely.

Throughout the whole session, do not just teach outright, have downtime sessions, where you have the class dance in rueda.
The goal should not be to teach them much, but to make them feel good about salsa. Nobody can learn to dance in one hour, but if they have fun, they will enroll in a dancing school.
Thanks for the input. I will be teaching linear salsa on1 (not Cuban) so the rueda and casino moves advice doesn't apply (I did mention in my intro that it will be linear salsa). I also don't consider rumba to be a 'basic casino step' by the way. Rumba is a folkloric dance that is definitely not helpful to a salsa/casino beginner. later, when they are focusing on improving body movement, rumba can be helpful, but not in a beginner's class. (Let's not derail the thread with this discussion, but I did want to mention this in case any other would-be teachers decide teaching rumba to salsa/casino beginners is a good idea...)

And yes, I will have a partner of course :) The demo in the beginning, which others have suggested as well, is a great idea, this way people will get to see what the dance looks like, and hopefully the demo will be good enough that they get inspired and excited to learn :)
 
Last edited:
#16
Whoah, whoah. Outside of rueda what makes you think this is geared towards Cuban style?


Plus, that's the whole point of salsa - to dance WITH someone!
The very mention of Rueda for beginners ( unless it is advertised this way)
.
. I do not know your salsa experience in dance or teaching, but, I can tell you in the last major city in which I taught for many years ( with a huge latino population ) only one teacher out of 20/30 was teaching Rueda and the vast majority of teachers were Hispanic.. .

The last para is just overstating the obvious ..

Sabs remember, is teaching a one off class.. simplicity trumps all else .
 
#17
1. Have a short verbal introduction about you and what salsa is. What type of salsa you will teach and so on.
2. Demonstrate salsa dancing to a well know song with your partner (oh yea, having a partner is a must, don't teach solo).
3. Start out with everyone being solo, introduce them to the basic steps like mambo, rumba, etc.
4. Get them to pair up and make a circle (rueda), teach how to do do the dance hold and the basic steps together.
5. The figures taught are usually un tarrito and exhibela or something else that is easy to grasp like dile que si.
Whoah, whoah. Outside of rueda what makes you think this is geared towards Cuban style?
4 and 5 are exclusively related to casino, and would I imagine take up the majority of the lesson. Therefore it's a plan for a beginners' casino lesson. (Whether or not it's a good plan I will leave to someone with more casino knowledge than I have.)
 
#18
If I teach casino the first things I teach are the connection between partners and then move to closed position footwork that moves them around the dance floor a bit while keeping the focus on getting the rhythm.

As far as what to teach, I'd say my experience says to get people into partnering as soon as possible. It's OK to do two or three different steps separately but soon thereafter they need to do it with someone or they'll internalize the stepping rather than focusing on being able to lead/follow.

Plus, that's the whole point of salsa - to dance WITH someone!
Thanks for sharing :)

What closed position footwork do you teach and how do you do the initial connection exercises? Keeping in mind that I will only have 2 hours for salsa and bachata, around 1 hour each, and that this will be a linear salsa class -- but I am interested in how you teach them about connection, of course in a 1 hour class there is not much time, but we could do 1-2 exercises.
 
#19
So, here's my current (very preliminary) plan:

I was thinking to do the bachata class before salsa, so that they practice the basic Latin stepping and partnerwork connection with the easier bachata side steps and then move on to the trickier

I'm thinking to start with (merengue style) stepping in place, to practice the stepping and weight changing, first without and then with music.

First stepping without music, in merengue pattern (1-2). Then in 1-2-3-pause timing, still without music. Then stepping in place to bachata music (adding the tap/weight change on 4 for bachata of course). Then do some bachata steps and partnerwork. Take break, drink sangria and maybe 'social dance' a couple of songs with the moves they learned.

Then move to salsa steps, again first practicing the stepping in place to salsa music first--hoping this would help to prevent a bit the huge steps beginners tend to take. Then some easy solo steps (side steps, right turn, maybe an easy syncopated step...) and some partnerwork. Then 'social dance' a couple of salsa songs.

Thoughts?
 
Last edited:

Dance Ads