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Salsa & Mambo Video Reviews


Hacha y Machete

Turn Patterns Int-Adv, Vol 1

Level: Int-Adv

Length: 90 minutes

Style: NY

Content: Turn Patterns

General Comment: We can safely expect quality from HyM and this is what you get from this DVD: eight turn patterns from one of the best performing couples currently around. If you think that eight turn patterns are not that many fear not, since each pattern is 14-16 bars of music long, basically a mini-sequence in itself; the result is that the amount of material easily outperforms most salsa DVDs.

I like the turn patterns a lot: all the ingredients of NY salsa are there, as well as interesting novel ideas; and everything is well seasoned with the well-known HyM elegance.

According to the instructors, this DVD is for intermediate-advanced dancers, but, depending on where you learnt your salsa, the material contained can easily challenge expert dancers. As far as I can see the turn patterns look fairly leadable, with no need of much memory.

Coming to the technicalities, this is NY style, on 2, with some Cuban influence in the arm work and some occasional passages. The DVD is filmed with a single fixed camera, but the dancers show all figures from two sides so you will be able to follow all details as needed. The turn patterns are first introduced, then explained with comments by both the leader and the follower and finally executed with fast (quite fast actually) music.

All the specific technical details (turns and footwork) needed to execute the turn patterns are explained at the very beginning of the DVD, so, in principle, you can start learning them geared with all the necessary tools. This is in principle, because the explanations are compressed to the bare minimum and you will have to do some work and thinking to put the pieces together and understand exactly which footwork goes where. This may be the only criticism to HyM production, but, as usual, less explanation means more time for content, and what is in this DVD surely compensates for the small drawback. A recommended buy.

Reviewed by: Fabio from SalsaIsGood Recommended

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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