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Today's Salsa CD reviews

Various artists – El Guaguanco, Origen de la Salsa :

A few years ago there has been a surge of interest among salsa dancers for rumba, and we started to see rumba workshops at main salsa congresses as well as rumba DVDs in the market. Soon after, students realized that making the transition between rumba and salsa, or incorporating the recently learnt rumba movements in salsa, was not trivial. One of the issues, of course, is recognizing the rumba roots in contemporary salsa music. As far as I gather, this CD was meant to achieve roughly this, to show Guaguanco (one of the rumba styles and probably the closest to our modern conception of salsa) in its original form and how it made its way into the more familiar salsa sound.

Whether the aim has been achieved I am not 100% sure, since this collection contains some ‘pure’ rumbas (“Illabo”, “Lamento Esclavo” and “La Gitana” from Los Munequitos De Matanzas), some salsas in which the guaguanco link is obvious (“O Mi Chango” from Mongo Santamaria and “Medley” from Eddie Palmieri) and others where it is no more obvious than in many others salsas, except that guaguanco is the topic of the lyrics.

Said that, this is a cool CD (very cool actually!); the choice of songs is really good, mostly in old Puerto Rican/NY style and if you are not familiar with this sort of music this may be a very good way to get into it, since it covers many of the best artists.

Dance-wise, if you are not into rumba, there is no reason to worry since you can use most tracks anyway: “Guaguanco De Amor” (Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez), “Guaguanco Con Sabor” (Cheche Abreu) and “Guaguanco Pa'l Que Sabe” (Johnny Pacheco) make perfect sons, “Guaguanco Raro” (Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz), “Esto Es El Guaguanco” (Cheo Feliciano), and “Avisale A Mi Contrario” (Roberto Roena) are perfect salsas and “La Vivora” (Bobby Valentin) makes a perfect Cha Cha Cha.

Highly recommended. 5-11-07

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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

Angel & Tulane Rivera - Cha Cha Cha Level: Beginner

Style: ChaCha

Content: This DVD is designed to teach the foundations of ChaCha patterns and leading techniques. It includes Basics: side; running; lock, on1 and on2. It then goes through partnering techniques: cross body leads, crossover breaks, cumbia step, chase, sombrero and adios back spot turn. Some simple shines are then shown by both Angel and Tulane: 3 point step, single double SusieQ and tap & flare.

General Comment: This is a video for beginners so of course the moves are very basic and often look very ballroom like. However they are explained well by both dancers and tips are given for making the dancing look good, leading and following techniques etc. The moves are repeated from a second angle. The studio location for filming is simple and uncluttered which for this dance works well. The editing of the video is also simple with errors which have not been removed and "no frills" filming but many other salsa videos are similar. A good introduction to cha cha. A highlight of the video is the performance clip of Angel and Tulane at the end. They are truly amazing! Don't switch off after the credits until you have seen it!

Reviewed by Ally of SalsaIsGood - Good

General Comment: All you need to know to get started with your basic Cha Cha Cha is here in this DVD. It contains a few different ways of doing the basic steps and a few simple variations to enrich your dance while you get familiar with this style. At the end 3 simple shines are also included, in case you want to venture yourself into some more challenging solo steps. Despite the instructors claim to teach Cha Cha Cha in ‘mambo’ style (they dance on 2 and use Cross Body Lead), some of the ideas are taken straight from ballroom Cha Cha Cha, which makes this product open to a wider audience. On the technical side the DVD seems to have been edited in a bit in of a rush, which affects the flow when you view it for the first time but not the instruction, which is good and well organised. A clip of a mambo performance at the very end shows the talent of the instructors at their best.

Reviewed by Fabio of SalsaIsGood - 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 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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