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Today's Salsa CD reviews

Yma Sumac – The Mambo :

What does salsa have to do with Opera? Nothing, thank God! But then, look at what I came across recently. This is crazy stuff: old style Mambo, of the old Cuban style, in the like of Xavier Cugat, with a female opera singer who erupts from the arrangements with typical Opera vocalisations and decorations. The result is “interesting”. “Interesting”, when referred to artistic creations, usually means “I don’t like it, but it is worth to have a look at it”, or, ‘I don’t understand it, but I can not admit it”. Here “interesting” is used somehow closer to it dictionary meaning, since some of these songs could in principle be used in a club, admittedly to surprise the audience, but both the mambos and the Cha-cha-chas can surely can be danced and enjoyed. Just keep in mind that this is CD was recorded in 1954, so it feels and sounds different from today’s salsa. Some tracks are nice, others are really crazy, but, for sure, they will catch your attention, unlike many CDs which are so predictable to sound like silence. BTW, it turns out that this Peruvian singer was once very famous, she even has a entry in the Wikipedia; I had never come across this in many years of salsa.. a pity. 11-6-07.


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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

Hacha y Machete - Rhythm & Movement (Body Isolation & Coordination)

Level: Int-Adv

Style: NY

Content: Music interpretation and styling

General Comment: Boston is currently overflowing with salsa talent and Hache Y Machete are among the best representatives. If you have never seen any of their performances, rush and check YouTube or the congress DVDs to be amazed at their style, elegance and creativity. In this DVD Burju breaks down her side of the HyM style and she does so with great professionalism; you will clearly see that a lot of thought has gone into planning and organising the structure and the content of this video which does not economise in ideas and techniques taken from inside and outside salsa.

The DVD is organised into 4 main sections. The first includes a number of body isolation exercises. It lasts 30 minutes and can very well be used for daily practice both to loosen up and strengthen your body. Some movements are part of the ‘classic’ salsa isolation repertoire, others including neck and arm movement are not so common. Burju displays incredible body control and all demonstrations are extremely clear. Here, as well as in the rest of the DVD, Burju’s position in front of a mirror, together with occasional close-ups, will allow you to follow all the detail you need.

The second part of the DVD takes the individual body movements we just learnt and combines them so that the entire body now moves in harmony. Here things start to become challenging and I expect that learning all this will take dedication and plenty of practice.

In the third part some of the movements are used to style basic salsa elements like basic steps and common right and left turns. The styling is very emphatic, maybe more suitable to the stage than the dance floor, but the exercises are still useful.

Finally, in the fourth section, Burju takes 2 short pieces of music in which instruments are added progressively and shows how the ideas can be used to interpret the rhythm pattern of the different instruments. This part is very artistic and creative, but also fairly cryptic, since little information is given on how the choice of the movements is carried out and how these ideas can be transferred into your daily salsa, especially since the resemblance between the music used and ‘common’ salsa may not be not obvious to the musically untrained. Here, I suppose, is where your own work needs to start in earnest.

As you notice from the length of this review, this is a DVD full of content from a serious instructor for serious and dedicated dancers. I believe it is very well worth the money, especially if you have long-term plans for your dancing and you are willing to put the time which these exercises will inevitably require. This is true for men as well, in my opinion; although they will probably not use the styling hints, the body isolation exercises, at the very least, will surely be helpful. A recommended addition to your ‘serious dancing’ collection.

Reviewed by: Fabio from SalsaIsGood Recommended


 
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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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