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Today's Salsa CD reviews

Gilberto Santa Rosa - Esencia

They call him ‘El Caballero de la Salsa’, not for his looks, but for the refined and elegant flavour of his music. He has been around for a while, starting his career in the ‘salsa romantica’ era, and despite the fact that he has received his Latin Grammy only last year, he had already developed his own signature style and reached the finest musical peaks a decade ago, and continues to deliver masterpieces almost yearly.

Esencia is my favourite. It is a collection of romantic salsa songs, thankfully not executed in ‘romantic salsa’ style of the early 90s, rather dressed in pure Armani by stunning arrangements: original, tight and technically spotless. You will find a few slow songs, like Amandote, Esas Lagrimas, Me Falto, Siempre Acabo Igual, Yo no Queria Conocerte, which will help beginners not to rush through their first routines, and faster ones, like No quiero na regala’o and Y Eso Duele, which will please intermediate dancers. But all are really beautiful and I expect experienced dancers will also be captured by the quality of the music, which you may enjoy dancing both on1 and on2. If you can understand Spanish you will find the lyrics exceptionally poetic and you will be captured by his vocal interpretation.

If you twist my arm and ask me to find a spot in this CD, I will say that the music, unlike the songs, may sound at times a bit cold despite the excellent arrangements. It is probably the result of the excessive precision in the execution, almost too perfect, which may sound a bit sterile, compared to the ‘sabor’ we normally enjoy in salsa. But this is almost like complaining about Botticelli’s painting, because they are too pure; and don’t forget that it was not my intention to say this, you just twisted my arm.

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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

Claudio Gomes - How to learn Zouk Love

Level: Beginners

Style: Zouk

Content: Basics and simple turn patterns.

General Comment: I can just see Grandpa Simpson saying “I used to dance Zouk once… in those days we called it Lambada”. I am one of those.. and what is contained in this DVD is indeed very close to what Lambada was many years ago. It all makes sense, though; Lambada was a fun dance, driven to the death bed by the lack of good music production: except for less than a handful of songs, the entire Lambada music collection would hardly make you feel like dancing. So here comes Zouk with a vaguely similar rhythm; it adopts the dying dance, and this springs back to a new youth, thanks to the working symbiosis.

Now Zouk enjoys a growing popularity, especially in Europe and French speaking countries, and so instructional DVDs are welcome. As in any new adventure, you need to start from somewhere, and this DVD offers exactly that. Pity thought that the Zouk DVD production also needs to invent itself, rather than building on the considerable experience and improvement salsa instructional DVDs have seen in over a decade. What I mean is that DVD looks like the very first salsa DVDs which came in the market in the early 90s. The instruction is provided with no counting of the beat, rather to an improbable vocalisation of the basic rhythm; the steps are simple, but involve a certain amount of movement over the floor, so when the two dancers show the turn patterns without the partner, it is hard to understand what is happening. Zouk is based largely on simple turns (mostly enchufle) and a number of dips in very close position. So the body movement and the smooth flow of the couple as a single entity are crucial to the proper execution of the dance. Nevertheless, I found the repeated invitation to ‘feel’ the music and to pay attention to the internal ‘energy’ unhelpful: whatever these feelings and energy are I doubt they can be experienced on a DVD, which should rather focus on what can be learned indirectly, that is the technique. I may really sound like Grandpa Simpson, but to me the frequent reference to the sensuality of the dance, the requirement to be sexy, look sexy and feel sexy are more suitable to the flesh and blood of the dance floor than to a DVD. Sensuality, I believe, is something you bring into the dance, not something you suddenly remember when prompted by a turn pattern.

Despite my grumpiness, if you want to have a go at this dance, this DVD may be an avenue. Some 15 years ago a number of Lambada instructional DVDs were produced, but they did not contain any special recipe, so why not being more updated and try this one?

Reviewed by Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Fair

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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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