Question By User EchoBlossom
Hey all! I want to learn to salsa dance with my boyfriend, who is taller than me. When we dance, I always lead. I’ve learned some basic step patterns (thank you Skillshare) but it’s still nothing we can really put to music. Any advice?
I’m 5’2 and he’s 5’9
To compensate for the height difference you have to get closer to him to lead anything with your hands going over his head.
If getting closer didn’t help, learn how to initiate a turn and let go of his arm around his shoulder or waist as his arm wraps around him. As he completes his turn you can pick up or ask for his hand after he’s done turning.
Leading someone taller than you through turns/spins can always be a bit tough, try to keep your lead hand in a tight halo around the center of the invisible “pillar” they’ll be turning/spinning centered around. Have your fingers be cupped in sort of an “L” shape and “roll” with theirs as they move around.
The staple of salsa dancing is cross body leads. When you don’t know what to do next, cross body lead. If 50% of the moves you do through out the song is a cross body lead, you’re salsa dancing. Fancier stuff can come later / be additional to this, and indeed is often variations on the CBL with turns for the follower added in.
Keep in mind, when you lead a CBL, you may be standing still, but te follower is doing a lot more walking/prancing around from one end to the other — and well, it’s supposed to feel good for the follower to show off their personality as they walk about. This is indeed the core of what most people people call ‘salsa’.
Short lead/tall follow situation requires more control, better technique
– When leading a turn, the follow must be able to turn under their own arm. I.e. the follow’s hand must be close to their head.
-To make that easier, the distance between the lead and follow should be as short as possible (but so that turns are still possible).
– To make that easier, step should be under control and especially the break steps need to be short as if you are projecting your foot far forward, the dance partner has to be further away.
All of this is normal technique, but there is less slack when the lead is shorter.
A short girl that leads is nothing different from a short guy that leads. Here in NL we have many tall girls (+180) and some guys from Latin or Asian descent are small. We had small Latin teacher, and also a small female teacher that could lead very well. It means you need to make special moves to prepare for turns, and you need someone to show you how to do that. To figure it out by yourself will take a long time.
I dont know that I have any tips different from the other commenters, but i want to emphasize that its totally possible for somebody short to lead somebody tall. I dance with women who are a foot taller than me, and theyre honestly easier to dance with just because they are good at following. Skill is much more important than height.
A lot of turns can be done using either a hammerlock technique and then tracing your hand back to the starting position. I also highly recommend if height is a big barrier to use tracing so invite the turn as a lead and as he makes a right hand turn, trace from the shoulder/arm/hip along his back as he turns and reconnects after he finishes his turn. Free turns are highly recommended.
*Typically I recommend this only with people you know well or are dating who is comfortable touching each other, otherwise if you dont know them well its ok to forget the tracing and just reconnect after their turn is finished.
I’ve done some salsa, and for most of the basic turns, and dips I’ve done my partner is mostly going under their own arm. So the height difference shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The Addicted2Salsa app is a good resource, and there’s all kinds of group classes being offered. I’ve even seen an axe throwing place offer Salsa classes.
Have fun dancing! 🙂
You should practice leading with followers who are your height or shorter. That will improve your leading skills and then you can dance with taller follows.