The Most Under-Rated Skill For Dancers + 7 Actionable Tips

How many times have you been frustrated because you can’t execute a choreography better or because you can’t catch the details fast like your peers?

As dancers, we all work hard to improve and perfect our skills, but here’s the truth about what sets us apart from the best dancers – they’re also the best learners.

They understand the importance of not just focusing on the act of dancing, but also on how to learn and improve more effectively. 💪🏻

Learning how to learn is something that no one really teaches us how to do, yet, can have the biggest impact in our lives in almost everything that we do! 

As an instructor, I have found that reminding my students about the importance of learning and how to improve their learning skills can have a significant impact on their overall progress.

That’s why I want to share some tips and techniques with you here:

🦵 1. Get Your Footwork First

Especially in Salsa/Bachata where footwork is a dominant and driving element of our movement.  (Check blog post about: How To Set Dance Goals)

Too many students make the mistake of prioritizing styling moves and upper body details over footwork. But it’s important to remember that our footwork is not just about which leg we’re stepping on, it’s also about the WAY we step that changes everything about the way we dance. 


1. Taking small steps.
Steps that are too big (beyond your shoulders) compromises on the quality of our weight shifts.

2. Full weight shifts and clear body alignment.
Check that you should be able to pick up your free leg at any point.

3. Creating energy in all that we do with our feet to have strong & clean footwork.
Push into the floor when you step and point when you pick up your feet.

4. Knowing when and which foot to pivot on to create our perfect turns and twists.

5. Making sure we’re on time and synchronised with the music.

👣 2. Memorise Your Steps Before Trying To Perfect Any Moves

Without having the steps memorised, you will not be able to absorb more information or techniques. Period. 💪

#️⃣ 3. Know & Memorise Exactly What is Happening On Each Count

Counting is useless if you don’t know what is happening on the count. 

COUNT OUT LOUD and make sure you know what you’re supposed to be doing on each count.

For e.g. Instead of counting 1 2 3, 5 6 7 – say “ Push tap tap, push kick push” to remember what to do with your feet. 

👩🏻‍🏫 4. Pay Attention When Your Instructor Corrects Somebody Else, & Apply The Same Feedback To Yourself

Check if you’re actually making the same mistake, and practice self-awareness. 🙏🏻

Self awareness is crucial to learning so that you know when you’re executing the moves correctly or not, to know what to focus on during practice to train more effectively. 

⍻ 5. Make a Checklist Of Techniques 

Which techniques do you want to achieve within each practice session? 🤔

With so many details to work on, it can be overwhelming to remember everything. 

Note-taking will help you to remember, remind you of your priorities, and keep you accountable of your progress.

👯‍♀️ 6. Teach a Dance Movement / Technique To Your Friend

The protégé effect: You learn best by teaching. 

When you teach, you’re testing your own knowledge and at the same time – refining and mastering the skills. 

“Can I explain this to a friend about why this technique works? Why shouldn’t we lock our knees?

💡 7. Active Recalling

Definition: The very act of retrieving information and data from our brains. 

Repetitively check in with yourself overtime (or better yet, take notes about):

  • What have I just learned? 
  • What did the class teach me? 
  • Did I learn some today that can alter my dance journey for the better?

It can help you identify gaps in your understanding and consolidate your knowledge, leading to more effective and efficient learning. 

“Before you can become a better dancer, you first need to be a better LEARNER.

© Brenda Liew 2023.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: