Some advice from Yanek Revilla – One of the World’s Best Cuban Dancers

I do quite a bit of reading and when I came across this article I thought that it was one of those that I should share.  I think that everyone who does Cuban salsa and/or rueda will get something out of reading the article at

I copied some points from it below in case you just wish to get some of the highlights.

Yanek says” I think there are basic rules for being a good dancer. I call them “The 5 Golden Rules” in salsa cubana – doesn’t matter what level you are, if something doesn’t work it’s always [because you are] breaking one of the following rules:

1.Never grab the hands, just a touch which I call full contact and always re-accommodate the hands before any change with the arms, in order to be more comfortable, faster and avoid injuries.

2. Turning around each other clockwise. The Cuban combinations are created to be danced in [a] circle and it makes [dancing] easier.

3. Distance. Dancing too far away from the partner is one of the biggest problems (in my European experience) due to cultural taboos, so the dance is too strong with a lot of tension in the arms.

4. The timing with the arms. All the moves with the arms end in 3 and 7 – defining this [detail will make] the dance be more fluid and clear. 70 (setenta) is the classic example for this rule.

5. Naturalness. Every unnatural or uncomfortable move must be fixed, natural small steps, not jumping. It’s more comfortable to dance the same way we walk.

Followers, he had the following suggestions: “[Learn to] improvise before and during “dile que no”, after “vacílala” and during the figures.”

Yanek compared salsa casino with “Bruce Lee’s Jet Kune Do. You have basic rules but then you adapt your dance to your possibilities, body work and feelings – that’s why all the people look different even if they all dance Cuban style. It’s freer because there is no choreography in the teaching process. You have to lead and improvise-doesn’t matter who you dance with. I think salsa cubana is very free and different from the other styles.”

What Yanek thinks about rueda choreography: “There is a problem with Rueda nowadays, the choreographers are including moves for couple dance into the Rueda and it’s a huge mistake. They stay too long with the same partner, and turn the choreography less dynamic. Besides that they create new long moves in which they change partners only once and I think that in a good figure you change at least twice. Good rueda choreography should include (in my opinion):
1. A figure in which you do lots of changes
2. A figure in which you mix salsa with other rhythms (Rumba, Afro or other traditional Cuban dances)
3. A figure with the hands joined
4. And a figure with lots of changes of directions or formations”