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Today's Salsa CD reviews

Celia Cruz - Mi vida es cantar :

If you have been in salsa for more than a couple of weeks you surely already know who Celia Cruz is and if you don’t you can easily find out in thousands of web sites, so I won’t waste too many words on this; it will suffice to say that Celia Cruz is for salsa what Tina Turner is for pop, just much, much more. Since she has been around for over half a century her music production is immense; and since during those 50+ years she has enjoyed and undisputed role of queen of salsa, she could choose the best musicians, arrangers and composers to produce her music, who would simply bow at the honour. Among tens of great CDs, today I chose one of her latest and undoubtedly the best of her final years.

It should be clear from the start that this is a commercial CD, so it enjoyed success more among relative novice salseros than among the ‘elite’. Surely, it contains some sins, ‘La vida es un carnaval’ on top of the list, a cumbia dressed like a salsa, with a catchy melody which became the favourite of many DJs willing to lure non-salsa dancers to the floor while immensely annoying the purists. Nevertheless, you can find very nice tracks too, starting from “Mi vida es cantar” and “Cal y arena”, my favourites, to “Canto a Lola Flores”, “Patica de chivo” and “Salsipuedes”. All these tracks are easy to dance, with clear beat, reasonably relaxed pace and catchy enough to catch the fancy of the non-expert without annoying the initiated. As a bonus, you will find a gorgeous merenge “Me astan hablando del cielo”, sung with Kinito Mendez, and a pleasant bolero “Siento la nostalgia de palmeras”. Among commercial productions we have found much worse than this one! 8/2/08


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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

Masacote Entertainment - Music Interpretation 101 for Salsa Dancers vol 1

Level: Beg-Adv

Style: Any style

Content: Pulse explanationTiming exercises, Clave Explanation, Variations of Clave, Visual Graphics (to help you understand), 5 Footwork Patterns

General Comment: If you want to learn musicality to apply it to your dancing, what more could you ask for than to be taught by someone who is both a professional dancer and a professional musician? And someone who is outstanding at both? We are talking of Joel Massicott of course, known in the salsa scene not only for his amazing performances with the Masacote dance company but also for his music exploring the edges of salsa and jazz.

This DVD is called salsa 101, but in actual fact it provides material for the novice as well as for the experienced dancer. It starts by teaching the fundamentals of music timing, what kids learn when they first study music theory and what most dancers (and teachers!) have never even heard of and that sadly is almost never taught in salsa classes. The explanation is clear and facilitated by the use of simple diagrams. Then Joel takes you along the second thing kids are usually taught in music classes: how to clap basic rhythms, from the core beat up to the more challenging root of salsa music: the clave; this is another element sorely missed in 99% of salsa classes.

From now on, the DVD increases the challenges and you will be taught to understand (via explanation and diagrams) and clap (guided by 3 musicians) both simple and more complex syncopations, the spice of Latin music. Joel then applies these syncopations to a series of footwork patterns (shines); this part is not salsa 101 anymore and will surely entertain even more advanced dancers: the shines are very nice, they involve both footwork and body work, and will test your timing since they play heavily with syncopations and they are executed to a great piece from Joel's. great music, albeit not the simplest salsa you have ever heard.

Putting all this together I can hardly imagine a single dancer who would not benefit from this DVD nor one teacher who could not bring some of these ideas to his next salsa course. As always, the highest standard delivered by the Masacote partnership.

Reviewed by Fabio of SalsaIsGood - Reccomended


 
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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 ane-mailexchange 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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