Salsa Partnerwork and Footwork

Here’s a brief description of salsa dancing styles taught at METIS Dance Society:
Salsa dancing can be separated in two sections: partner work (or “turn patterns”) and footwork (or “shines”).


Partner work is the basis of salsa dancing as it is in essence a couple dance. Partner work consists of dancing in sync with your partner on the music in a spontaneous manner whilst holding hands. There is no set order of patterns or pre-arrangement, and this is the reason you can literally dance salsa socially with anyone, anywhere in the world!

In order to achieve that, partner work is based on specific leading (for the gentlemen) and following (for the ladies) techniques. The first thing to learn when wanting to dance salsa partner work is the common language between leading and following in order to dance in harmony with each other. As you progressively master the technique of how to lead or follow, you can complement your partner work with turns, dips and tricks or combinations of the above.

  • Fabulous social dancing of 8 times world salsa champion Oliver Pineda with Salsa and Bachata queen Alien Ramirez. Mambo, Casino, Flamenco, Afro-Cuban, Son… So much diversity, influences and flavor in this video!

  •  A beautiful social dancing in New York, the Mecca of the Mambo, this time with Eddie Torres Jr, the worthy son of Eddie Torres a.k.a the Mambo King, and Amelie on a great salsa romantica!


Footwork is complementary to partner work in salsa social dancing. It can even be a predominant part of social salsa dancing, like in Colombian salsa (Cali style) or Afro-Cuban. Its use is threefold:

  • The basic steps are footwork that you execute in order to be in sync with you partner on the music beat. This enables both partners to “speak the same language”.
  • Footwork is also an enabler and a must to be able to execute all salsa turn patterns, from the most basic to the most intricate combination. In this instance, leads and follows
  • Free style footwork (also called shines or pasitos) can be either choreographed or spontaneous/improvised.
  • A perfect example of how footwork can play a big role in social dancing. We have Adolfo, the Mambo prince, demonstrating his footwork ability in Istanbul, Turkey on a groovy song.


Which level should you take? 


Who is this class for?

  • ‘From scratch’ beginners who wants to learn salsa : a well oiled and evolutive program to make you progress rapidly week after week in a structured manner
  • ‘Improvers’ On 2 dancers : a good opportunity to brush up and perfect your basics
  • ‘On1’ salsa dancer (cuban or L.A. style): finally the occasion to learn On2 salsa dancing!

What is the content of the class ?

  • SALSA Footwork and Partnerwork
    • You will learn (or review) the different kinds of basic salsa footwork, timing and connections – as well as all the basic leading & following skills.
    • Practically speaking, the class is divided in two parts : 45 min of footwork and 45 min of partnerwork (see relation footwork and partnerwork sections for a full description)

What is required?
Nothing – except a willingness to learn and a desire to have fun!
All those with two left feet are also welcome… We have new students starting all of the time, most of whom have never danced before either.
Even if you do not have a salsa partner, you are welcome to join, we always rotate partners as we believe it is important to practice with several people to have a better learning curve.

Our recommendation
We recommend that you attend the Beginners’ course at least a couple times – all of our students who have done so have reported benefiting massively from the additional practice, as they are getting more comfortable with the basics. You will progress much quicker in the long run if your basics are sound.


Who is this class for?

  • Beginners students with at least 6 months of consistent practice in the beginners’ levels: are you ready for a new challenge?
  • ‘Intermediate to Advanced On1’ salsa dancer (L.A. style): the transition to On2 will be rough but that’s what you’re looking for!

What is the content of the class ?

  • SALSA Partnerwork class:
    • We start to incorporate more complex moves into our turn patterns – including multiple spins, change of directions, travelling patterns… You will also find that within the turn patterns there will less ‘recovery’ time (i.e. no more basic steps during a combination). The focus is still on moves that are leadable and followable but you will find that the leading/following is more challenging due to the nature of what is being taught.
  • SALSA Footwork class:
    • We teach new, more complicated footwork, including syncopations and more body movements.
    • We also introduce the notion of blocks of shines, putting different shines next to each other without putting a basic in the middle. This will require more memory and faster execution. Last of all we will teach the footwork on faster, more energetic and groovy songs.

What is required?
You are comfortable and confident with all of the moves and techniques taught the beginners classes. You are also be able to remain on time with though a whole song even at a higher pace. You can maintain your balance through more complex moves such as spins. You are capable of ‘freestyling’ on the dance floor adapting your dancing to your partner and the music.