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The Torso Technique All Pro Salsa Dancers Use


Ever wonder how pros make everything look so easy?

They lead with their torso.

Here’s how to use your torso to guide your partner’s movements clearly and smoothly. Do this and you’ll make your leading much more intuitive for the follow, so they can respond without thinking.

Torso Techniques for Effective Leading

  1. Visual Cues: Your torso movement provides a visual signal. If you move your torso (your center of gravity), your partner will notice and follow. For instance, if I walk towards my partner, she knows to step back. If I move to the side, she follows my lateral movement.
  2. Kinesthetic Cues: These are physical sensations of movement. When you shift your weight or rotate your torso, your partner can feel these changes through your frame.

Follows, Follow The Lead’s Chest

As a follow you always want to be looking for your partner and aligning your chest to their chest. This is how you keep a nice frame.

There are exceptions of course, sometimes the lead wants you to step in one direction as they go behind you etc, but it’s their job to make that clear.

In general the lead’s torso angle or direction is key information you want to pay attention to.

Applying the Techniques


  1. Basic Step without hands: as you walk towards your partner, they step back. If you move to the side, they follow laterally.
    • Have your partner place their hands on your shoulders and follow your movements. This helps them feel your weight shifts without thinking about specific steps.
  2. Crossbody Leads:
    • Visual lead: leads, don’t use hands. Open the door visually by rotating your torso at least 90 degrees as you step off the line of dance, showing a clear path for the follow.
    • Physical lead: from the closed position, try rotating your torso just 90 degrees during a cross body lead. Then do it again and open your torso angle between 90 and 180 degrees (135) and see how that affects the lead. Most people find the second lead to be smoother, more clear. Rotate your torso more than 90 degrees when doing a cross body in the closed position.
    • Cross body lead + check: A check is a change of directions. You can start the cross body lead and then stop it by simply shifting your weight back in the opposite direction. See video.
  3. Turns and Rotations:
    • Inside Turn: to lead the turn, simply flip your wrist up and rotate your torso in the direction you want the follow to go (opening/rotating to your left). Ensure your torso follows your partner to provide a clear signal for the turn. This makes the turn smoother and more comfortable. If you keep your torso facing 90 degrees to the line of dance, it won’t feel as good.
    • Reverse Crossbody Lead: Rotate your chest to open the path for your partner. Without this rotation, they may run into you. See video.
  4. Overturns
    • Execution: Lead’s rotate your torso to guide your partner through the overturn (180 degree pivot). The rotation of your frame will rotate the follow.
    • Exercise: Leads, place your hands on your partner’s shoulders and rotate your torso to guide their turn.
  5. 360:
    • As the lead rotates their torso, the follow looks to keep their torso facing the lead, chest to chest, to maintain the connection.
  1. Inside Turn with Butterfly/Titanic:
    • Lead the inside turn by rotating your torso in the direction you want her to go. As the follow does the check, leads, rotate your torso back to the right to get the follow to also rotate back to the right in the direction they came. Everything his lead by the torso, the arms are secondary (because they’re attached to the torso). They’re a consequence of the torso movement.


  1. Lead & Follow With The Torso: guide your partner’s weight shifts by moving your center (your torso) in the direction you want them to go. Adjust your partner’s direction by rotating your torso.
  2. Maintain Your Frame: Your frame is essential for transmitting these signals. Avoid “spaghetti arms” and ensure you’re standing tall: chin up, chest up.
  3. Visual and Physical Cues: follows, remember to also watch your partner’s torso movement and angle for visual clues.


Leads, master the use of your torso and the follows will love you. Every dance will be smoother and more enjoyable.

Follows, pay attention to your partner’s weight shifts (center of gravity) and torso angle. If your partner’s torso is rotating it’s telling you something.

Want detailed breakdowns of the lead and follow for all the most common social dance moves? Check out our online salsa program here. You can even try it free for a week here.

You’ll never be confused about how to lead or follow a move again.