As I’ve mentioned in the past, the very best salsa lesson I ever took was a master class in fundamentals with Vanessa Stay, one of the most experienced Latin dance teachers in the city. It was a group class for a very small number of people that cost us $100 for the hour. Between the details she offered and the drill of basic step, basic spot turn, and basic travelling turn, my dancing noticeably improved after that one session.
To become a good dancer – whether you’re a lead or a follow – it’s the ability to incorporate the fine points of dance fundamentals into your dance when you’re not in that segment of the class that matters. It’s all well and fine to have accurate foot placement and weight shift when we’re doing the drill in the first part of the class, for instance. But, if you’re not focused on bringing that new knowledge into the pattern-learning part of the class, let alone outside of the class in your social dancing, you’re not getting the benefit of… let’s call it what it is, shall we?… the tedium and boring repetition of these basic, building-block, dance elements.
I’m friends with a moderately well-known pianist who was in one of Canada’s most famous rock bands of the 1970s and ‘80s. He has since gone on to other musical endeavours (although still tours annually with a revival band of the original). He’s now shifted his own playing to jazz piano, and he is, in my opinion, incredibly skilled, talented, adept, and versatile. And even HE drills the basics every day for several hours at a time.
Each time you dance a basic step drill, or a point-turn drill, or a travelling turn drill, or any “simple” combination that you know like the back of your hand, take it as an opportunity to pick one, fine-point element on which to concentrate. Focus your attention on one detail aspect of that simple move with the intention on making it absolutely perfect. For the rest of the class, and indeed for your next one or two social outings, whenever you have the opportunity to dance that move, bring that same awareness to perfecting that focus element. In time, you will up your dance game to become the dancer that others stop to watch because you’re simply so awesome.