What Level Am I? I’ve been dancing for 5 years?

In my 14 years as a professional dancer and instructor I have been asked this very question more times than I can count.  How do I know if I’m a beginner still or am I already considered intermediate?

I wish the answer were simple.

Unfortunately, there is no real standard in salsa.  There is no universal syllabus for “Social” Salsa and if there were I am certain that most instructors don’t use one.

So I cannot answer the question for every instructor out there but I can give you my own personal guidelines for each level.  This is how I structure my classes, syllabus and teach accordingly.


As a Beginner you are LEARNing all the rules of the dance.  You are building a solid foundation. You are still learning all your basic steps, rhythms, proper lead and follow and learning all your elemental steps.  


An intermediate dancer is working on MASTERing the rules.  You are mastering your technique and you are learning and incorporating various combinations, footwork, shines and even some styling.  You are learning how to make each moves work with various dancers and are learning how to adjust to them.  You are now learning more and more combinations and footwork patterns but possibly feel like you’ve hit a plateau.  


At this point you are now BREAKing all the rules.  You can lead anyone at any level.  Have a good strong lead / follow.  You are now taking each move, shine or styling and incorporating it to the music and enhancing your dance.  Musicality and technique take over your dance and when you dance not only is it magical but everyone thinks it’s all choreographed because each move works precisely with what they are hearing.   

Can you be an advanced dancer without ever taking lessons?  Can you be a beginner even if you’ve been dancing for 10 years?  In my opinion, YES!!!!  We all learn at a different pace, we all retain and process information differently and we all put different amounts of time to practice what we are learning.

As I previously mentioned, there is no real standard in Salsa.  Unfortunately there are MANY instructors out there teaching that all they know…IS MORE THAN YOU.  So typically they teach you moves they’re learned or that they themselves have mastered.  That doesn’t mean that 1.  you’re ready to learn that move or 2. that they even know how to teach you it.

So I’m gonna give you some helpful tips.  I always recommend everyone to take an instructors Beginning class.  There are several reasons for this.  It will allow you to get to know the instructor and their terminology.  Since there is no standard in Salsa there are many instructors that are not formally trained to teach.  Often times they make up their own names for each pattern, moves and even basic foundations.  Understanding their terminology will help you get by in all of their other classes.  It’s always easier to move up than down, for our egos sake 😉 Take an introductory private lesson from the instructor.  Some of them offer this so take advantage of it.  I offer a $20 introductory private lesson.  It’s only 30 minutes long but it’s plenty of time to determine what your goals are, your level and develop a lesson plan just for you so that you can achieve your goals faster.

I guess this question can get very complicated and honestly there is no real way to answer it.  Especially if you’re an intermediate dancer when you take lessons from this instructor but a beginner with that instructor and an advanced with another. Take a look at my blog  “Which teacher is the best for me”, for a better guide and understanding how to select the best teacher for you and your goals.  Just like everyone learns differently, everyone teaches differently.

So, what level are you?  Still don’t know, schedule your $20 Introductory Private lesson with me today!  http://www.espiehernandez.com/private-lessons.html

Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.”  ― George Carlin

Yours in dance,

Espie Hernandez


About Espie Hernandez Dance

I've been dancing professionally for 14 years. I love everything about dancing. From teaching, to the music, the artists, the various dances, the lifestyle, the culture, the health and fitness to even the clothing and so much more. In my blog I will talk about all the most common questions and hope to make your journey on this roller coaster a bit more fun!
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