How to Remember Salsa Moves
I don’t want to tell you to practice, because that’s the obvious and ambiguous answer. I will say that you need to be able to do the basic, commonly recurring footwork and be able to do it without thinking, before you add any complexity to your patterns. You want to be able to do your Basic and your Cross Body Lead Footwork on autopilot before you overload yourself with anything more complicated.
Now after you’ve mastered that...
Make a List
The most useful tool for remembering moves has been my handy dandy excel sheet. Now in order to do this, I’ve found it easiest to name the patterns and by giving them names that remind you about something unique to the pattern. For example, we have a pattern that starts with a big lasso like motion overhead, so we named it Rodeo. That way, when I recall the name I can remember what makes it special and can execute the rest once I start. I think you’ll find that your recall is a lot quicker when you give each pattern a name.
Memorize a Choreography
One common way many good social dancers have gotten so good is by memorizing choreography. Learning choreography comes with a number of perks.
You will learn a lot of material. It’s important that this material be social dancing friendly and not just choreography that works during a performance. Once you can execute a routine comfortably, you can chop it up into smaller chunks that you rearrange during social dancing.
It gives you structure to your practice. If you currently find yourself trying to recall what you’ve learned and you may not be getting the most out of your practice time. Having a 1 or 2 minute routine that you can practice from start to finish will help you get the number of repetitions you need to get really comfortable with your repertoire. You’d be hard pressed to find a Pro or exceptional Social Dancer who has never been part of a performance team. It has shown to be one of the best tools for learning to dance.
Classify your Moves by their Starting Positions
To help you add more variety to your dancing and avoid repeating yourself every time you make it left to left or to hammerlock position, make a list of all the moves you know from that position. If you organize your patterns by category you may find it easier to access your mental archive of moves that are possible from that handhold.