Some of you have probably hoped this wasn’t on the HOW TO A BETTER DANCER list. But yeah, it’s definitely on the list. Some of the most admired Latin dancers in the world can do it with funky, sexy, playful, and always musical footwork (aka “shines“in Salsa and Cha Cha). Needless to say, her talents go beyond just gymnastics patterns. While the partner connection is the essence of Latin American dances, evolution has brought other elements with it that allow individual freedom of expression.

If you think “I hate shines!” You are missing out on a great opportunity to improve your game, have more fun, and become a more versatile dancer!

Coming from an urban dance background, “Solo” dancing has taught me not only HOW to move, but also WHEN to move, and I have the confidence to do it! When I got into the Latin dance scene, of course, it wasn’t As scary to learn footwork. But for the millions of people whose first dance moves were to acid (which I still love, by the way) or to some super slow salsa / cha cha / bachata, dancing alone isn’t what they signed up for. And avoid it for as long as possible AT ALL COSTS. At some point, however, it creeps up on you … at some point you will meet some really great dancers who enjoy balanced partner work AND Time to shine yourself.

By the way, “alone” does not mean that you forget your partner! On the contrary, it’s an opportunity to groove together without really holding onto. You have both hands at your disposal, you can move around each other freely, you can with hair, jackets, arms, legs, drops … feel pretty great 🙂


  1. I’m afraid“/”I feel naked when dancing alone. “This one isn’t that hard to understand … many feel unsure of what they look like creating their own things.
  2. Isn’t Latin American dance about partner work?Most of the time it’s … As mentioned above, the dances have evolved to add solo work or footwork to partner work to express musicality and connection.
  3. I don’t know when to do it.“If a dancer has not yet developed an ear for musicality, what you do and when you do it can be completely random. So you try “whenever” first, even if it’s not particularly musical. You have to start somewhere – and that’s just to try.
  4. I feel awkward and uncoordinated dancing alone “. For those who did not grow up listening to Latin music and dance with their family at gatherings, the Latin movement may not come as a matter of course. The coordination, believe it or not, is very natural. Remember these dances were made on the street!
  5. I block out when I’m left alone and can’t remember what I learned in class.“This is just for lack of practice. Unless you can’t avoid it.

So let’s try looking at footwork in a different way … If you knew it could help you become a better dancer, would you?

8 Ways Footwork / Shines (“Solo Dance”) Can Help You Improve Your Dancing

  1. TRUST TO DANCE WITHOUT A PARTNER: One of the greatest benefits of learning footwork is overcoming your fear of breaking out of partner work and dancing alone! Dancing is a mental challenge and a physical one. And gaining the confidence to dance alone is like taking the training wheels off your bike. Once they’re out, the world is yours!
  2. TIMED COORDINATION: Dancing is about connection. Regardless of whether it is a partner or musical connection, it is always important to have a connection to the Rhythm and tempo of the music. Learning to match your footwork to the beat of the music is a basic skill that you usually learn before You are trying to dance with another person. Practice footwork to practice solid timing and develop the ability to connect with the beat of the music. First learn to speak the same language (same timing, coordinated steps) and you are on your way to gentle dancing.
  3. QUALITY OF THE STEPS – Many dancers think that just “taking the steps” is good enough. In reality, HOW you take your steps becomes more important … how you shift your weight, how you coordinate your body with your steps. So it’s not just a no-no to be late for class (don’t let me start …), don’t be late for class with the intention of missing out on the warm up footwork because you are missing out on something important element of your Dance education!
  4. SPEED (FAST, SLOW & BETWEEN): It takes energy to move the body quickly and on time across a floor. And it is also a challenge to slowly take controlled steps. It starts with your center and then with your feet. The adaptation to the different speeds and moods of the music requires concentrated practice. Learning the footwork can help challenge your ability to move at different speeds in a controlled and timely manner.
  5. AGILITY: Great dancers make quick changes of direction look easy. Until you try it yourself and find that it takes a lot of balance, focus, and clear intention to change direction quickly. Learn and practice a footwork combo that involves quick changes of direction and become an agility champion!
  6. BALANCING & CENTERING: In partner work, many new dancers and even experienced dancers rely on their partner for balance. And while you might think I’m talking about followers, so do you as a leader! If you are having problems with spins / turns (which is a difficult skill to master) or keeping your balance within partner work, it is time to practice these things yourself. Practice at home, practice on the sidelines in the club, take advantage of “solo” time on the dance floor
  7. DEVELOP YOUR OWN RHYTHMIC STYLE: Once you have learned a lot of footwork, with practice you will develop a rhythmic style for your dance. It can be on purpose or sneaking up on the club one night. Rhythm is part of musicality and every experienced dancer has developed his own flow, which he expresses both in partner work and when he uses opportunities to do this alone.
  8. MUSICALITY: Some of the most musical dancers in salsa, bachata and cha cha can not only dance alone, they are too freed through this. Latin music has such a wide variety of sounds, instrumentations, moods, flavors … Dancing alone can provide an opportunity to explore the nuances of each song without the added challenge of leading or following. The horns, the baseline, the percussion, the piano melody, the vocals, the breaks… .. it takes time to master these musical elements. And the better you can do it alone, the more comfortable you can get into your partner work. So work on YOU and you will have a lot more to give to your partners.

When you put all of this together, you have improved your dance game both technically and artistically. Challenge yourself with a legwork lesson from a teacher with great musicality and great pedagogical skills – whether in Salsa, Bachata or Cha Cha. Don’t be afraid … take on the challenges and look forward to the rewards to come!


Caryl Cuizon, co-founder of

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