When dancing Salsa, the rule of thumb is to keep your elbows in front of and outside of your hips at all times.
Regardless of which direction you choose to lead (or are being lead in), maintain that proper elbow-to-hip relationship and it’ll enhance the success of your dances. Why? Because It’s a key part of your frame and if your frame gets compromised, you’ll start running into trouble. Leading and following will become more uncertain due to the broken connection linking the two of you.
The Worst Mistake You Can Make
When it comes to elbow positioning, the worst thing you can do is allow your elbows to slide backwards behind your hips. If this happens, it ruins your connection and makes it incredibly hard to interpret the incoming lead/follow signals and anticipate what your partner wants to do next.
Keeping your elbows in front of and outside of your hips is the most critical part of maintaining your space and frame and that goes for both of you – you are responsible for keeping your elbows in position, and your partner is responsible for his elbows.
If both you and your partner maintain your frame, it will be very clear which direction the lead plans to travel at any given time.
When follows say “I just need a strong lead!”
If a follow claims she needs a stronger lead, there’s clearly a miscommunication going on. There’s no reason a lead should ever have to give a STRONG suggestion of what he wants the follow to do. If the follow feels the need for a stronger lead, there is most definitely something going wrong with her technique, your technique, or both of you; and most of the time poor elbow positioning is the problem – or at least part of the problem.
So what can you do to check yourself?
Next time you’re dancing, be very mindful of your elbow-to-hip position and look down to see where they’re sitting. Once you get the hang of good elbow positioning, holding them in front of and outside of your hips (think width and depth) you’ll begin to notice a much smoother connection with your partner.
Best of luck!