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Today's Salsa CD reviews

Alfredo de la Fe - Latitudes

This is a very diverse CD, so much so that you would be forgiven for mistaking it for a compilation CD with music from different artists. Rather, it is a full CD with music from Alfredo de la Fe, spanning music which appears to come not only from different styles but also from different periods. In such variety it is likely you will find something you like as well as, unless your tastes are really eclectic, something you won’t.

The opining salsa “Esta es la salsa” is a sort of celebration of New York, both for its role in the salsa development and as a multicultural spot. It is a nice salsa, at medium pace, which you will enjoy dancing on2 but also on1 if you don’t belong to the NY school. The rhythm is clear and I think instructors and students would find it suitable for salsa practises and classes. The violin solo from Alfredo de la Fe may remind of a rock guitar and you may or may not find it suitable to salsa music, but it is surely one of the features of this music.

“Asomate A La Ventana” has a clear cumbia influence, though you can surely dance it a salsa; it is slow has a nice melody and a very nice arrangement, vaguely reminding of bands like Latin Brothers. “Xiomara” is a very nice version of the famous Latin classics, and the musically inclined among you will enjoy the arrangement, interleaving violins, flutes and trombones (vaguely reminding of Los Van Van) and nicely complementing the gorgeous leading voice,

“Somos El Nuevo Milenio” is a Son Montuno of clear Cuban feel, but so slow that you may find it not suitable to test your Cha Cha Cha skills. “Sandra Mora” is also a reprise of an old classic, in a version probably closer to timba than to salsa, reminding of Issac Delgado in the intro and Micheal Maza afterwards, it’s not bad and it is suitable to bring out the salsa casino style in you. By this stage of the CD you are probably accustomed to sudden styling shocks, so maybe the next one will not take you by surprise: “Hilda” is a danzon which you can dance as a bolero or simply enjoy by following the nice violin virtuosism.

“Descarga Melao” as the name suggests is a Descarga, as such very fast, in my opinion not really suitable to dance as salsa unless you are training for the Olympics, but you may feel differently about it.

“Que Manera” is a poppish salsa characterised by a long violin solo and a quite fast tempo, like “Ge Ge” in my opinion too jazzy for a dancer.

What follows is another reprise of a super-classic “Muneca”; very much like “Xiomara”, this is a very nice version and very danceable.

“Batuasalsa” completes the CD. The name suggests a mix between salsa and brazilian batucada, though I find a lot of plena in the mix and the speed may lead you to dance it as a merengue, not a fortunate combination.

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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

Lee Hunter - Guide to Cha Cha Cha

Level: Beg-Int

Style: Cha Cha Cha

Content: basic footwork and turn patterns.

General Comment: At the beginning of the DVD Lee claims that he will show us how to convert basic salsa moves to ChaChaCha music. In fact, I think he does a bit more than that, in the sense that it shows some salsa elements as well as a handful of turn patterns from the ballroom repertoire and puts this material together. Of course mixing salsa with ballroom is a delicate operation, since the result may displease everyone. Lee's choice makes sense though and I think the elements of ballroom he suggests to us are cleverly chosen and include simple moves and leads salsa dancers are not accustomed to. This, together with some salsa material taken from his 'Improvers guide to salsa' and 'Guide to shines', makes up a reasonable ChaChaCha repertoire for an intermediate dancer. A full session of the DVD is dedicated to making sure that ChaChaCha is danced on2, rather than on1, and it is properly done. As for all other DVDs from Lee, this also is targeted to a social dance audience, that is at dancers for whom simple and genuine enjoinment is more important than showing off the latest moves in order to make friends envious; for these people, this is a good product.

Reviewed by Fabio - Good

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Salsa articles

On2? Which On2? I am writing this post to all experienced salsa dancers out there, and in particular to all salsa instructors. I have a question which hopefully will spark an e-mail exchange from which I may understand a few things which are unclear to me. In order to put this into context, first a few 'facts'.

Fact 1 . Roughly speaking, most people dance salsa either On1, or On2 Modern Mambo (NY style) or On2 Classic Mambo (Puerto Rican style also similar to Cuban contratiempo). Today Modern Mambo is used more frequently than Classic Mambo at congresses and salsa classes around the world.. more...

The Salsa 10 Commandments: 1)You shall not dance out of time, 2) You shall not refuse a dance to a less advanced dancer , 3) You shall respect other dancers on the dance floor more...

Creativity, Style and Salsa: How can I be creative in my dancing? How does SuperMario come up with his incredible moves? Did Eddie Torres invent NY style? What is style? Who creates a style? What does it mean to be creative anyway?

There are no objective answers to the above questions. They all, one way or the other, depend on subjective views on the artistic expression we call salsa, on what we like, and on what we intend by salsa in the first place. But we can still say reasonable things about the matter and make the creative process clearer and possibly easier. What follows are some thoughts of mine, mostly borrowed from my maths background. I am sure all this must have been said already within the art or humanistic literature, and if you are aware of work in this area please let me know, so that I can learn more.

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