Exploring the Afro-Latin Funk
Style: Across all
Content: 1) Class
featuring interviews with Frankie Martinez, members of his entourage and
Jimmy Bosch. This first feature is a comprehensive look at Frankie as
an artist and his sharing the development of his approach to dance. From
Frankie's website: "Understanding the motivation behind Frankie's
method is an integral part of understanding what Frankie is trying to
achieve in teaching these isolations. It was artistic as well as strategic
decision to present the class material in this fashion in order to give
students a richer understanding of movement in the context of expression."
2. Complete Body Movement Class. This feature shows an entire class without
interuption so for the viewer it is as if you were taking part in one
of his classes with a series of isolations and rhythmic patterns designed
to develop musicality and flexibility within the body. The camera moves
around showing Frankie and his students from different angles and perspectives.
3. Interviews Only. The people interviewed talk about Frankie, the experience
of working, dancing and studying with him and his emphasis on artistic
expression. Frankie is also interviewed. The interviews address how different
types of movement have begun to alter the course of Frankie's style of
dance, reaching beyond the borders of modern salsa/mambo.
General Comment: I started watching
this DVD with the interview section which was probably not the best place
to start as I really didn't want to know about Frankie's philosophy of
dance and to hear all the accolades from his adoring fans - I just want
to see the man dance!! The interviews seemed to me as choreographed as
his dancing. I would have preferred something more authentic. The body
movement class has been filmed in a cool and artistic manner which captures
the mood of being in one of Frankie's classes and I'm sure that the exercises
would be useful to loosen up the body and enable a version of the style
for which Frankie is famous. However, it is not much more than an exercise
class and that is disappointing. There are no clips of Frankie dancing
either alone or with a partner. I expected more from this long awaited
and much anticipated DVD.
Reviewed by Ally - Good
General Comment: You may have
come across in the past some documentaries on the mythical characters
who made crucial contributions to todays culture: Chaplin, Hemingway,
maybe even Tito Puente. Well, this DVD is the analogue, but on Frankie.
There are two puzzling differences though. First, this documentary on
Frankie has been produced by Frankie! Second, Frankie is not dead yet
(thankfully). So it turns out kind of bizarre to see this emphatic production
about somehow who, until a short while ago at least, you could have met
on the dance floor. And this is even weirder for someone like me, who
had the luck to hang around with Frankie for a (very short) while. It
makes me wonder whether I live in the present or in some kind of make-wish
(for Frankie) future.
In this DVD Frankie attempts what effectively is an intellectualisation
of salsa; first it takes it away from the dance floor and into the stage.
Then goes further still and brings it into a sort of abstract mental laboratory,
where you (or maybe he) can experiment with its conceptual limits by asking
how much you can push the envelope before it becomes something else
(to use his Frankies words). If this sounds somehow disconnected
from salsa, it may be because Frankie may have pushed the envelope
past the edge already: as the title confirms this is not salsa anymore
but Afro-Cuban funk, and surely we can not find any hint that we are talking
about a partner based dance either.
There are many facets to this approach, some compelling, some I find
contradictory; isnt over-intellectualisation a European, not Afro-Caribbean,
disease? Havent the Europeans already brought enough diseases into
Afro-Caribbean culture? Is this really what you want to achieve Frankie?
Is this what you want to do to the Afro-Caribbean roots you are justly
Maybe in 30 year time academics will lecture on this DVD at an advanced
course in the history of art at Cambridge University and scholars will
write books about it. But I think it is difficult today to project ourselves
in the future and treat this contemporary self-myth-building work as if
it was a piece of already-achieved art.
What remains for the mortals is a set of astonishing exercises, the inexhaustible
admiration for Frankie the dancer, a few puzzles about Frankie
the person and a sadly intact desire to see Frankies first
real DVD in the market.
On a lighter touch, waiting for the future, some legacy lives already,
now, in the mushrooming of white dance shoes on dance floors all over
the world. This part of the DVD is entertaining; what is the rationale
of the white shoes? A spiritual link to African mythology, as Frankie
told a friend of mine a while ago? The specific need for an artistic tool
to focus the intensity of the dance on an otherwise transparent dimension,
as Frankie explains in the DVD? Or the economic rationale of empty wallets,
as Johnny implies? Like Che Guevaras iconic image in the souvenir
shops all other the world, this materialistic item does not do justice
to the intellectual commitment of the source; still, in my bimboness,
I find the white shoes irresistible, provided they match my top, that
BTW, I got carried away.. I suppose the only question you want addressed
is should I buy the DVD or not?. Quick answer: Yes,
at least it will make you think.
Reviewed by : Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Good
General Comment: This DVD features
exercises, performed by Frankie Martinez and his class, which aim to increase
flexibility and achieve isolated body movements.The DVD does not include
any explanations on the exercises, however if you invest some time exploring
the movements, you will find the DVD very useful. I found some of the
exercises quite challenging, so be prepared that it will take time and
practice to be able to do them properly.
Overall, the DVD provides for an excellent and challenging workout.
Reviewed by Thea - Recommended