What it Takes to Perform (Part 1)

Watch This Video of Angela and I Practicing First:

It’s been over a year since Angela and I performed Este Ritmo Sabroson at Enigma Salsa in Harvard Square. The routine took us a couple of months to create, perfect, and bring to life. We performed it once.

Some might say all the work we put in to practicing, creating, searching, and dreaming of what to do was a waste of time, but I’m here to tell you learning to dance, and then choosing to perform are one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

The video you just saw above is a recording of Angela and I while we were in the middle of it all; Practicing, eating, laughing, and essentially wanting to kill each other because we were pushing ourselves to our limits.

What does it take to get to the point where you can perform?
Can you do it alone? And, what are the steps required to pull it off?

In today’s article I’m going to share the process we follow at the Fawakaa Dance Company. This is the entire system from beginning to end that we use to go from idea to reality.

Let’s look at the big picture and then go deep where all the work happens.

Here’s what you’re looking at before you can create a performance your proud of and ready to present to the public.

Since Angela and I are Salsa dancers, I’m going to focus exactly on what we do; however, this applies to any dance style you are involved with. The only difference would be the choreography you choose to put together.


1. Identify the people who are willing and able to perform
2. Decide on the dance style or deeper message you want to share with your audience
3. Go on the hunt for music
4. Make sure the music is just right
5. Break down the music in to counts
6. Fool around with movements to see what happens
7. Start putting a rough choreography together
8. Listen to the music without end until you know it inside and out
9. Complete a rough choreography and see how it fits with the music
10. Make any changes with the areas you don’t like
11. Film yourself to see what it could become
12. Give a Count to every movement and step in the choreography
13. Practice to the counts
14. Clean the routine and make sure everyone understands what needs to happen and when
15. Choreograph your facial expressions
16. Practice until you can’t get it wrong… This is different from practicing until you get it right
17. Make everything 10 times harder than you would expect when you perform
18. Walk Away from it all and enter performance mode
19. Confirm costumes, performance dates, individual responsibilities,
20. Get Ready to Perform
21. Dedicate the show to something greater than yourself

STEP 1: Identify the People who are willing and able to perform

I have horror stories of people who say one thing and do another. Your job is to lay down some expectations so people know what they’re getting into and can back out if they’re not up to snuff.

When you decide you’re going to create something from nothing, it’s very daunting.

The first thing you need to consider are your limitations, and not your strengths. You may be a good spinner, or have great body isolation, maybe even beautiful styling, but none of that matters if you don’t decide in the beginning what you can and can’t do within the time you’re giving yourself.

There are routines for beginners, routines for intermediate dancers, routines for advanced dancers, routines for professionals, and routines for the bold that involve acrobatics above the shoulders.

I believe the fastest way to become an amazing dancer, far better than the majority of people who go social dancing every week is to create a routine and perfect it. The decision you face is why you’re creating this new “thing.”

Why do you want to give your idea life?

Do you want to perform as soon as possible?

Do you want to perform, but set the bar extremely high so you can improve?

Or do you want to create something that is out of your league and the only reason you’re making it is to become a better dancer?

The final option has its pluses and negatives. On the one hand it’s a sophisticated approach because it immediately neglects the desire for instant gratification the majority of people struggle with every day.

The negatives are that you don’t know how long it will take, or if you’ll ever get to perform the routine.

When Angela and I were training with Roberto, we had a routine called Salsa Y Sabor.

That routine took us 2 years to master.

We literally spent hours and hours each week just drilling it, and perfecting it, and fixing it… It was hell… it was work… and it was an amazing feeling once we actually pulled it off. We performed in Maine, and different parts of Massachusetts.

During those 2 long years we were on a plateau. Essentially nothing was happening and we were in the dark about when it would click.

One day out of the blue it all fell in to place, and we found ourselves on the next level. We reached professional status. Footwork was easier, partnering was a joke, and we could do it all at top speed.

Dozens of people tried to conquer this routine, but to my knowledge only 6 ever succeeded (including Angela and I). Many people gave up because it required everything you had; your time, your money, and your relationships.

Depending on your limitations you can begin to get rid of the things that don’t make sense for you at this time.

Do you want to commit 2 years of your life? or do you just want to practice for a few months and get something together you’re proud of?

I’m going to assume you’re not as crazy as Angela and I so we’ll continue with the Este Ritmo Sabroson routine example, which was straight forward, and didn’t push us too much out of our comfort zones.

Once you know what you want to do, and the time frame you’re looking at, you can begin to pick the people who will be a part of this adventure.

Will it be a solo show, a couple routine, a group?

You’re about to give birth and if you follow through and go through each step of this guide you will most likely feel like a mom who’s sending her kids off to college for the first time…

Proud, relieved, worried, stressed, sad, and scared. I’m here to tell you that it’s “ok”

Feel it, Enjoy it.

So, I’ve given you my warning, outlined some options you can choose for the level of your routine, and now you must choose the people who will take part in this adventure.

Here are some Qualities you want in the people you choose to work with:

Willing to commit and follow through
Willing to practice and follow through
Able to dance at the level you want, or at least aware of the marsh pits that await on the journey of mastery.

I’m all out of time and need to go to dancing now, but soon I’ll send you part 2 of this series on what it takes to perform.

You have the big Picture,


PS: Based on the big picture, this may become a 21 part series. See you next time ^_^

PPS: Sign up for classes with the Fawakaa Dance Company.