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What Shall I Do With My Arms? Real Story of Ladies Salsa Styling Struggle

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

That was my first question when I started to think about "how I actually look when I dance salsa".

At first I was focused on actually

being able to follow the leader and turn & do my steps… And then the question appeared…” Oh …and how do I actually look when I dance?" When I started there were no phones with awesome cameras and big memory 😜. Though no capacity of memory is big enough for me…

So I could only look at other ladies on the parties and try to copy the moves I liked..Then run to the table and ask my friends how it looked. And my biggest concern was – what to do with my hands. Now through the years of dancing and teaching I saw there is much more to the ladies styling & technique then the movement of the arms.. But I still remember my beginnings and how clumsy and awkward I felt.

So ladies, I am on the same page with you. But!!!! There is one thing – styling (as usually perceived) doesn’t make us good dancers. What makes us good dancers is a proper ladies technique on the first place . That means weight transference, arm technique for following and turns, spinning technique and some following tricks and tips to help us stay connected and follow our partner.

Another important thing is to know when to style. In other words the timing of when and how to use my arm, head, body isolation and more.


And then the solo shines. I remember quite clearly how lost I felt when my partner set me “free” to do solo shines. More than anything it felt like as if he took away the one thing to hold onto and he threw me - a non-swimmer into deep water… Nothing – absolutely nothing came to my head. If you would ask my name – I would not be able to answer… Eyes wide open, stiffed face and panic..

Later something appeared in my muscle memory… Explicitly - only Suzy Q and right turn. Those moments of blank brain, frustration and feeling that everybody is watching how lost am I… Btw..don't worry about others watching. It's pure loss of time.


I am sure we all have to go through this. Though it feels painful at the time, this is the thing that motivates us to go and learn. Trust your body. I have a lovely story of my student who was coming to the styling classes for some time. She was saying “I’m not getting better. In the styling classes I can do all those things but on the dance floor – I can’t remember anything.” Then after some time she came with the big smile on her face. “It just happened! I was dancing and suddenly I realized that I am using my arms and body and my brain is not boiling…It just happened! “


So trust your body, your muscle memory and trust yourself. Go to classes, have fun with your spinning, arms, footwork, technical “drills” and dance! And what shall you do with your arms? If you really want and you will work for that - It will just happen!


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