Salsa dance is a lot of fun not only due to the style of dance but due to the fabulous, uplifting music. Dance like other forms of exercise create chemicals in the body that can provide a natural, elevated feeling along with many health benefits. Benefits of dance expand beyond physical and also benefits memory and your mind. However, the first step in learning to dance is the connection to the music.
Finding the beat is an important aspect to gaining the connection in the dance. According to Sam Gill from salsa-challenge.com, “music is the principal external factor that serves to connect the partners in dancing. The rhythm or beat provides the pace and establishes the basis for the temporal coordination of partners. The musicality of the music creates the shifts and moods and breaks for the dancers to jointly express themselves by dancing in a way that complements the music.”
Dance can become a wonderful, almost out of body experience. Sometimes you may go dancing and not feel motivated to dance; however, when you hear the music and begin dancing, you lose yourself in the moment and you can’t understand what happened to the time.
Gill references work from psychologist and educator Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who has gained wide recognition and even best-selling author status for his research into the nature of happiness and creativity; he is best known for the concept of flow, which is essentially the experience of losing yourself. In reference to losing yourself in the dance, Gill’s article stated:
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called this experience “flow” and, while this word is still used, many today may more likely call this experience “zone” or “being in the zone.” Csikszentmihalyi studied the phenomenon as experienced by rock climbers and surgeons among others. What he was interested in was to identify how flow happens and what its significance is to our lives. Csikszentmihalyi believes that the experience of “flow” corresponds with the experience of happiness. No wonder we dance all night. It makes us happy! Salsa dancing is fun.
Flow occurs when there is a correspondence of action and awareness. This simply means flow is experienced when we are aware only of our actions; when we are in our moment; when we are fully present to what we do. This makes sense. We’re not, in some part, standing beside ourselves commenting on our dancing as we are doing it; rather we are wholly absorbed in our dancing.
Csikszentmihalyi found that an important factor in creating flow is the matching of the challenge of our activity with our skill or ability. He found that flow is most likely to occur when we experience a challenge demanding our fullest concentration on our activity, but that if the challenge becomes too great, too much beyond our present skill level, we experience anxiety and may simply shut down. If the challenge is too low, then we tend to get bored and thus distracted from what we are doing.
So the first step in dance is listening and connecting to the music. Enjoy and explore music that moves you and when you try the associated dance, you’ll find yourself a step ahead in your learning curve.
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