Connect to the music. Connect to your partner. Connect to the floor. Three essential connections for any partner dance, including salsa. Of the three, connecting to your partner is often the most challenging, even though we *are* talking about partner dancing! Most people can – more or less – hear the rhythm in dance music, so connecting to the music – that is, moving your feet in time – is relatively straight-forward. And connecting to the floor is for most people, fairly obvious. It’s that third one, connecting to your partner, that gives many dancers – especially those relatively newer to dance – the biggest challenge.
Connection means more than simply holding the partner’s hands and pushing or pulling her/him to follow a particular pattern of moves. It’s more than appearing to be moving in roughly the same time to the same song. A true partner connection means actively engaging muscles, tendons, and ligaments so that, in effect, the two partners become one, unified entity moving in concert around the dance floor. It’s trickier than it looks!
The feeling you’re going for is that of active extension and compression, with each partner exactly and precisely mirroring the other. When one partner extends their arm, for instance, the other partner equally extends so that there is no relative movement of the joined hands between them. When one partner pushes into the other to create compression, the other partner matches once again, so there is no arm collapse or backwards movement. And, perhaps most difficult of all even though it appears to be the most simple, is keeping connection on a forward or backwards lead. In this case, there should be minimal movement of the arm relative to the shoulder and chest.
Think of it like the “olde-tyme” song:
The hand-bone’s connected to the wrist-bone,
The wrist-bone’s connected to the arm bone,
The arm bone’s connected to the shoulder-bone,
The shoulder-bone’s connected to the chest-bone,
The chest-bone’s connected to the body-bone,
And now we salsa dance!
We’ll work on this in different ways in each of our two classes this week, so we can all experience how to connect our dance from the “hand-bone” all the way up through the “body-bone.”