Having just arrived home from a weekend of fun and dancing at the Salsa Beach Splash in Sibenik, Croatia, I feel massively inspired and wanted to share why.

The first thing to point out was the environment which was large enough to feel busy with great energy and vibe but small enough to be intimate and easy enough to make friends. All the ladies that I danced with were fun and full of smiles. One of my students, Ilker, once told me if you are having fun then a basic step is enough to enjoy yourself. How true it is…

The first inspiration came when I asked ladies about good leaders. Most pointed out the same three dancers that they told me were amazing to dance with. As I watched I noticed that none of them had the crazy-triple-spin kill moves, performance-plastered-grins or outrageous clothing. They were, warm, enthusiastic, nice, genuinely enjoyed the music and made sure their dance partner had a really lovely experience. I asked all for dances and they were very musically in tune and follower-centric leaders. It was a pleasure to experience and made me want to do more of what they are doing. Focus less on content and more on the partner

My second inspiration was dancing (loads) with Alexandra. I remember Burju at a workshop telling everyone that Victor was responsible for her styling as he created the space for and encouraged her dancing. Alexandra does the same for me as she creates spaces and suggestions in the music for me to take. I do not believe in the traditional male leader metaphor as we should inspire each other. A few friends noted that I had far more of everything this weekend; I believe that Alexandra was responsible for this. I have travelled for ten years in Salsa and had some amazing dancers but she tops my list of dancers. She is truly a humble and beautiful person.

My third inspiration was watching a dancer (unknown to me) and feeling overwhelmingly surprised and wanting, for the first time in 5 years, to revisit and explore Partnerwork again. On Friday, a friend asked me which guys are good to dance with. I scanned the room and noticed a dancer from Prague called Marian. He caught my eye with a crossbody lead as he was on time but played with the dynamics effortlessly with his partner taking his every lead. As I watched I saw that he was one of the most musically in-tuned Partnerwork dancers I have ever seen. The more I watched I saw more than just Partnerwork as I saw the love of the music, love of the dance and him inspiring his partners to do the same. More information on Marian can be found at http://www.isalsa.cz/

My final inspiration came when I watched Marian and Alexandra dance together. No gimmicks, no long stretches of partner work, or break away for footwork, no formulaic Salsa that is everywhere I look. This was two dancers connecting and letting the music drive them as they connected all the dots merging Partnerwork, body movement, footwork and musicality into one brush stroke to the music.

I feel galvanised now and cannot wait to see how much my dancing changes based on these experiences and salsa inspiration.

Toan Hoang

Written by Toan Hoang

Toan Hoang has been dancing Salsa for more than 10 years and was the co-founder and managing director of TNT Dance in London; A dedicated and holistic Mambo school, that thrives on innovation, and hopes to develop and inspire the next generation of instructors and performers. www.tntdance.info

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