I recently read a comment from someone (salsa gigolo was it you?) that they had put learning tango on hold indefinitely to make way for their salsa addiction. It got me to thinking, can you effectively be addicted to more than one type of dance style at the same time? I would say that currently I am totally addicted to both salsa and modern dance in equal, yet different measures. How did I get to this point?

Development stage

I think your stage of development within a particular dance style is going to be the most important factor in your ability to get the most out of more than one at the same time. I do modern dance and salsa dance in equal measures, but this is a recent development. I’ve been doing salsa for many years and when I recently started learning and loving modern, I had to put salsa on the back burner to focus my energies on the demands of learning a new discipline. My body was exhausted from all the new things it was doing– I simply didn’t have the energy to go to the club on non-class nights. Also, I was at times mentally and emotionally overwhelmed from taking on such a new and unknown challenge that often shook my confidence in myself. Now that I have gained a  lot more confidence and ability in modern dance, I am no longer exhausted or overwhelmed. I can devote myself equally to salsa and modern. This is a very exciting place to be!!

Culture

Different dance scenes have difference cultures complete with the way people greet each other, style of dress, “in crowds”, etc etc. Whether you can really immerse yourself in both those cultures simultaneously depends on your social aptitude I guess. I’ve never really felt very cool in any crowd and I guess I will never be in the “in clique”, but I don’t need to be because I’ve made very good friends in both worlds and love just being the unique person I am without trying to conform to some sort of groupthink. As for dress, I might look hot in one of my little salsa dresses, but I will never make a leotard and legwarmers look cool!

Technique

I am not sure if I am sacrificing one technique for another by doing both salsa and modern simultaneously. In all styles of dance I’ve learned, the core is very important so I think the two styles can only help each other in strengthening the core.  The way feet and legs are used is another story. I generally wear heels and keep my legs bend in salsa. That means my center of gravity is low and my feet are always flexed. In modern, I am barefoot and the legs are bent only in plie`. Turns are so different– it was tough to learn to turn on a straight leg in modern! At the same time, my ability to center myself, to spot, and to originate turns from the core (which I learned in salsa) have made me a good at turns in modern dance once I developed the proper strength in my legs. I’ve also had to develop greater strength, flexibility and articulation in my feet for modern since the feet are always pointing and flexing.

Schedule

This works out well for me. I can take modern dance classes in the early evening or during the day on weekends, leaving my nights free for salsa. Tango and salsa would be a different story– you’d have to alternate your nights. A true addict goes out every night. I guess I haven’t ever been a true salsa addict by this standard because I’ve always kept a reasonable balance with my personal life.But by my standard of addiction this is totally doable.

The bottom line

It is possible to devote equal time and energy to two different style of dance if you are at the right development stage in each one. My addiction is dance, but I guess you could say I’m a multi-drug user. I get my fix from different substances, but they all meet the same craving at the end of the day.

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