The Six levels of Salsa dancing

Sitting in a restaurant one day, a student asked me to break down my interpretation of what skills are necessary to be the ultimate salsa dancer.  I broke it down into six levels.


Beginner level.  Two people are just learning how to move in unison without stepping on each other and not hurting each other.


The man and lady are now dancing in time to the music while doing basic patterns and variations.


The man is now dancing more complex variations and patterns.  They begin to use the space more interestingly with rotation and changes of direction while maintaining flow.


The man stops worrying about his own steps and starts leading the lady with ease and control. This is when his leading skills excel and he understands what the follower needs.   It is often the time that the man starts to “show-off” his lady with more elaborate variations.


This is when the man and lady start to play with the rhythms.  Syncopations, changes, slows, quicks, accents, and stops are all used and then the dancers can find the beat again to continue dancing.



when it all comes together.  This is when the dancers become  “the physical instruments” of the music.  If a deaf person were to watch them dance, he/she could SEE the music through their movements and interpretation.

This is when the man leads his lady to the stops, accents, energy level and mood of every song.  Therefore, every song looks different because the dancer is inspired in that moment to feel that piece of music.

This is when I personally achieve the “dancer’s high”, Euphoria, or Ecstasy.  When I can feel an accent building in the music, and my partner gives me the opportunity to do a move that punctuates the “break”, I get such a feeling of thrill and satisfaction.

Article by Josie Neglia

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