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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

SalsaCrazy - Advanced Salsa Dance Mastery System Vol 1-6

Level: Advanced

Style: On1 (Vol 6 is On2)

General Comment: We like the SalsaCrazy approach to teaching and DVD production and this series has not disappointed us: it contains content (lots of it), detail, variety and quality.

A common dilemma when planning a DVD is how to balance the amount of detail vs volume of material, that is how much time to spend in explanation vs more content. SalsaCrazy has solved the problem radically: they include both content and detail, and in order to do so, not only filled 6 DVDs, but squeezed as much as possible into them, since they average between 1.5 and 2 hours in length. This together with some serious thought to the organisation of the product, results in a complete advanced course which you can take home and attend anytime you wish. There is more to it because all together the course is tough, by 10 instructors and with different styles and approaches to salsa dancing. So on top of straightforward salsa teaching you also get a glimpse of what this dance has to offer in terms of creativity and diversity.

To make the most of this DVD the instructors assume you are an intermediate level dancer, you are familiar with standard salsa moves, timing and basic spins. Everything else is provided in the series. Each DVD contains a number of turn patters, each first demonstrated, then explained from the leader and follower’s perspective, then both male and female instructors give tips on specific details of the turn patters and finally we get to the demonstration to music. In each DVD one instructor will also focus on specific techniques which are needed to develop an advanced dancer, covering spinning, posture, and body isolation exercises; some of which are repeated by different instructors which will demonstrate that there is no unique recipe to any salsa element.

Within this common structure, the DVDs change due to the presence of different instructors who bring their own flavour. Vol 1 and 2 present Evan with his confident, cool and experienced approach. We like his teaching a lot and his salsa is that of the consummate social dancer. He teaches with 3 proficient partners (Louise Garrison, Nadine Chan and Angeline Lucia) and their turn patterns are designed to condense in a few moves all the basic salsa elements: wisdom and experience was obviously behind the choice of these turn patterns and if you master them, you will have some 80% of salsa elements under control. Vol 3 and 4 are presented by Alison Hurwitz and Jesus Ortiz; their style is more formal, more technically oriented, with a touch of ball room in its approach. In Vol 5 Tianne and Ricardo present the ‘young’ side of salsa, with turn patterns of their creation and a less traditional approach. Finally, Vol 6 presents Sir ‘Seaon the Stylist’ and what a welcome surprise this is.. he brings his immense style, as well dancing on2, to this series.

With so much choice and variety it is inevitable that you will have your preferences and you may wonder why the entire series was not performed by your favourite instructors. We find Evan’s no-nonsense approach really refreshing and his teaching spot-on and for what regards Seaon… well, we will never tire ourselves of watching him; but you may very well have other favourites.

Reviewed by Fabio of 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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