Compiled from www.salsatropical.com
Dancing is a very active and at times intimate social activity. As with other social situations there is an etiquette that you should be aware of to make sure everybody has fun, regardless of their ability.
As salsa is a close partner dance, it is very important that you are clean and smell fresh before dancing. This means showering, brushing teeth or bringing mints/gum with you, avoiding strong perfumes/colognes, and bringing clean clothes and a small towel if necessary. Secure very long hair as much as possible to avoid smacking your partner in the face with it.
Asking Somebody to Dance
Both men and women can and should go and ask somebody for a dance. Just go over, extend your hand and ask politely. If they accept, lead them by hand to the dance floor. If you are turned down, do not be offended, it's rarely something personal. It could be that they've just danced the last five songs and need a break, or it could be that they don't like the current song, or they've saved this song for a particular person, or they just want to have a chat with some friends.
Being Asked to Dance
In general, you should try and dance with anybody who asks you.
If you simply do not feel like dancing at that particular time, for example if you're tired, you want to chat to your friends, or go to the toilet, then politely decline but always offer to dance later.
You have to use your judgement here based on your partner's willingness or resistance to being close. Don't push it any further than your partner is happy with.
This is something most ladies have experienced at some point during their dance lives. If a lead is simply too rough and jerky and is causing you significant discomfort, don't be afraid to speak up politely. If he refuses to adjust his lead, try to finish the dance and speak to an instructor privately about it, and they may be able to remedy the situation.
Bumping Into Others
Dance floors are often overcrowded and at some point you are going to bump into somebody or step on their feet. If this happens, apologise. If somebody bumps into you, apologise even if you think it was their fault. If it keeps happening, try to find a different spot. Adjust your moves to the space available. If there isn't much space then stick to moves that are small, otherwise you will keep bumping into everyone around you. If you are in a place where waiters/waitresses are moving around, then always give them space to pass you even if it means stopping your dance. They are there to work and it's hard enough without dancers spinning around them at speed.
If you are a stronger dancer than your partner, then out-dancing them is frowned upon and does not look good. This applies to both male and females. There is no need to demonstrate to people that you are better than your partner.
Teaching on the Dance Floor
During social dancing that doesn't follow a lesson, you shouldn't correct or teach your partner unless clearly requested. If your partner leads or follows a move incorrectly, it is not an invitation to teach them. Instead, if you're the guy, try simpler patterns. If you're the girl, just follow the best you can.
After the Dance
Smile, thank your partner and lead them off the dance floor.
Salsa Dance Styles
Different styles of salsa dancing emerge from their respective geographical regions; many are infused with traditional movements indicative of the potpurri of cultures of the world. Of course, style is highly subjective: what one finds appealing may not appeal to another. It's usually difficult to strictly categorize any one style while observing the social dancefloor, often dancers will unintentionally mix and combine elements of several different styles to suit their partner's style of dance and the music.
Like any creative medium, style is an expression from within. It [style] is a magic wand, and turns everything to gold that it touches" (Logan Pearsall Smith, American Writer, 1865-1946).
L.A. Style Salsa (Dancing "On 1")
L.A. style salsa, usually danced "On 1", is a flashier version of New York style salsa moves. Dancers use lots of dips, flips, drops and tricks which make for a great show to watch. The back and forth Mambo basic, again in a linear motion, is utilized with the leader breaking forward on 1. Because the dominating beat is the 1 beat which is the most accented beat in the series, the dancing looks and feels powerful and fast. L.A. style salsa has incorporated many other types of dancing including jazz, hip hop, and ballroom which is challenging for the dancers and entertaining for the viewers. Similar to the New York style salsa, many of the moves are created from cross body lead variations. Shines are an important component of this type of salsa with complicated, speedy footwork and jazzy moves.
New York Style Salsa (Dancing "On 2")
Salsa on 2, commonly referred to as "Mambo", is a style of salsa first introduced by Eddie Torres in New York in the 1960s. Technically speaking, dancing "On 2" refers to the beat the dancers break forward on. Followers will break forward with the left foot on the 2 and leaders will break forward on the 6. New York style salsa is distinguished by smooth, controlled, highly technical movements that are elegant, graceful, flow well and are not rushed. The style is very linear and many of the turn patterns evolve from cross body lead variations. Multiple spins, complicated footwork, Afro Cuban body movement and shines are a must. Dancing "On 2" is rhythmically more difficult as it is easier to hear the 1 beat and break on this beat. Many dancers learn to dance "On 1" first and then train "On 2" as they feel it is more musically and rhythmically rich and complex.
Cuban Style Salsa
Cuban salsa style is most similar to the original form of salsa rooted in Cuba . It is characterized by Afro Cuban style body movement which includes body isolation and hip movement. Cuban style salsa does not have many fast spins. Instead the movement is very circular as opposed to linear and partners tend to travel around each other. The hip movement is more noticeable in this style and stems from the pumping of the knees. The footwork is quite simple - the complexity lies in the arm work which requires the follower to have limber, flexible arms. Cuban style salsa is considered "male dominated" in the sense that the leader tends to be more showy and will create a greater push/pull feel for the follower then many other styles. Most Cuban style dancers tap on the pauses which are on the 4 th and 8 th beats if the dancers dance on 1. However, Cuban style salsa dancers do not always stay on the 1 beat and tend to stray depending on where the music takes them.
Miami Style Salsa (Classico Cubano, Casino)
Miami style salsa evolved from the Cuban style of salsa but is a more difficult and technically advanced style of Cuban salsa. Advanced Miami salsa moves tend to be intricate and pretzel-like and require a flexible follower to execute the moves. Many of the Miami moves are the same as Casino Rueda moves and the style is still more circular than linear. Open breaks or the Guapea basic (leader and follower break back and then push off eachother) with a tap are the most common basic steps in Miami style salsa. Cross body lead variations are common but are executed in a more circular fashion.
Casino Rueda Style Salsa (Rueda de Casino, Salsa Rueda)
Casino Rueda (meaning salsa wheel) is a group dance which originated in Havana , Cuba in the 1960s by a group called Guaracheros de Regla. In this dance, couples dance in a circle while one dancer, designated as "The Caller", provides hand signals or calls out the moves which will be executed by every couple in the circle simultaneously. Many of the Casino moves involve swapping or switching partners which makes the dance tricky to execute and spectacular to watch. Rueda is very popular in Cuba and Miami and has gained popularity all over the world. Cuban Rueda tends to be more playful with easy to follow fun moves while Miami Rueda has many complicated turn patterns and requires memorization and skill to execute. Many callers will know anywhere from 150-300 moves so memory, speed and accuracy is a key to ensuring the circle is not broken. The advantage of learning Casino Rueda is that all moves learned in the Rueda circle can be danced one on one with a partner adding to a dancer's repertoire of moves.
Shines refer to solo work when the leader breaks away from the follower and each dancer has the opportunity to freestyle on their own to the rhythm and accents of the salsa music. Shines involve more complex footwork as well as body movement and arm work. Shines are common in the New York , L.A. and Puerto Rican styles of dancing. They are not as common in the Cuban, Miami and Columbia styles of dancing. The term "shines" originally referred to having the opportunity to "shine" independently. Shines give dancers an opportunity to take a break from partner work and turn patterns and freestyle. There are many common shines such as Suzy Qs and flares but every dancer has their own unique and individual movements which allows dancers to be constantly challenged.
Incorporating styling techniques into any style of salsa has become very common. For both men and women shines, leg work, arm work, body movement, spins, body isolations, shoulder shimmies and rolls, and even hand styling have become a huge trend in the salsa scene. There are lessons dedicated to the art of salsa stylin'. Hip hop, jazz, flamenco, belly dancing, ballroom, breakdancing/pop and lock, and Afro Cuban styles have all be infused into the art of styling.
The Six Levels of Salsa Dancing
By Josie Neglia
Sitting in a restaurant one day, a student asked me to break down my interpretation of what skills are necessary to be the ultimate salsa dancer. I broke it down into six levels:
Beginner level. Two people are just learning how to move in unison without stepping on each other and not hurting each other.
The man and lady are now dancing in time to the music while doing basic patterns and variations.
The man is now dancing more complex variations and patterns. They begin to use the space more interestingly with rotation and changes of direction while maintaining flow.
The man stops worrying about his own steps and starts leading the lady with ease and control. This is when his leading skills excel and he understands what the follower needs. It is often the time that the man starts to "show-off" his lady with more elaborate variations.
This is when the man and lady start to play with the rhythms. Syncopations, changes, slows, quicks, accents, and stops are all used and then the dancers can find the beat again to continue dancing.
The ULTIMATE LEVEL...when it all comes together. This is when the dancers become "the physical instruments" of the music. If a deaf person were to watch them dance, he/she could SEE the music through their movements and interpretation.
This is when the man leads his lady to the stops, accents, energy level and mood of every song. Therefore, every song looks different because the dancer is inspired in that moment to feel that piece of music.
This is when I personally achieve the "dancer's high", Euphoria, or Ecstasy. When I can feel an accent building in the music, and my partner gives me the opportunity to do a move that punctuates the "break", I get such a feeling of thrill and satisfaction.
- WHAT LEVEL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE AT?
- WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO REACH LEVEL 6?
- WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LEVEL 6 DANCER IN BERMUDA?
- WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LEVEL 6 DANCER IN THE WORLD?
Send us your comments on this topic firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artist of the Month
Jesse Cook is a Toronto-based Nuevo Flamenco guitarist, born in Paris to Canadian parents. Like other guitarists of his style of music, he incorporates jazz, latin & world music into his playing. Cook is also well known for the energy of his live shows. He has contributed to the Afro Celt Sound System album Seed, and often has other popular recording artists contribute vocals on his own albums. He has recorded on the Narada label.
Born in Paris in 1964 to photographer and filmmaker John Cook and Heather Cook, and raised in the region in southern France known as the Camargue, Jesse Cook grew up with the sounds and influences of Gypsy music. Guitarist Manitas de Plata, who lived in the Camargue, and Nicolas Reyes, lead singer of the flamenco group Gipsy Kings, who just happened to live next door, heavily inspired him.
After his parents separated, Cook and his sister accompanied his mother to her birth country, Canada. Recognizing the musical aptitudes of her son, lessons followed at Toronto’s Eli Kassner Guitar Academy. Kassner's other famous pupil was classical guitarist Liona Boyd.
There he continued his studies in classical and jazz guitar in North America’s music schools, then attempted to unlearn it all while immersing himself in the oral traditions of Gypsy music. This helped him widen his range of musical tastes.
Cook has recorded six studio albums and traveled the world exploring musical traditions that he has blended into his style of rumba flamenco. In addition to headlining concerts and festivals, he has opened for such legends as B.B. King, Ray Charles and Diana Krall. He has performed with Welsh soprano Charlotte Church on the Tonight Show and toured with legendary Irish band, The Chieftains.
The 1995 Catalina Jazz Festival was a turning point in his career. His debut album 'Tempest' had been independently released in Canada. Within a month, a deal with American company Narada allowed them to be booked at the Catalina Jazz festival. Originally the band was to perform during the twenty minute intermissions in a little bar downstairs from the main stage. His performance was well appreciated, so appreciated in fact that Cook was invited to give a performance on the main stage. Shortly afterwards, Tempest entered the American Billboard charts at #14.
In 2001, Cook won a Juno Award in the Best Instrumental Album category for “Free Fall.” Most recently, he has been nominated for two 2008 Juno awards, for his 2007 release “Frontiers” (World Music Album of the Year) and for the “One Night at the Metropolis” DVD (Music DVD of the Year) which captures his performance during the 2006 Montreal Jazz Festival.
For more articles, news, discography, interviews visit www.jessecook.com
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