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Salsa & Mambo Video Reviews


Lee Hunter

Improvers Guide to Salsa

Level: Intermediate

Style: On 1

Content: Turn Patterns.

General Comment: This DVD set tries to address a problem that most salsa dancers out of a beginner or early intermediate course face: that mental freeze which results in the brain not being able to suggest what to do while dancing. The result is endless repetition of a couple of routines or, much worse, endless basic steps with the guy staring blankly at the ceiling waiting for divine help. The problem comes with a female version: the absolute expectation that a certain turn pattern must be finished as it was learned in the class, defying any possible lead or creativity from the guy. Lee Hunter presents two simple recipes to address both versions of the problem. He helps the guys by classifying turn patterns according to the initial hand hold. He helps the ladies (and implicitly the guys too) by offering alternative options to finish similar turn patterns. These are two simple recipes, something that many dancers worked out by themselves during their salsa evolution, but that has rarely been laid out in a DVD; this is what makes this DVD series really useful for early intermediate dancers.

There is more; classifying turn patterns according to hand hold position and offering alternatives may easily lead to the temptation to be exhaustive and generate a way to reproduce everything which is salsa-danceable; a few have fallen into that temptation in the past. Lee stays out of this and keeps things simple. He does not offer everything, but what he offers is manageable, something that for a salsa students is crucial.

In fact everything from his DVD is simple: the moves, the organisation, the dancing and the instructions. You get the feeling that you really have no excuse not to learn what Lee offers and no excuse for not dancing your next salsa song without repeating a single turn patterns.

This DVD is suited for someone who has a grasp of the basic salsa elements (basic steps, cross body lead, simple turns) and covers most of what you need to become a reasonable intermediate level social dancer. Instruction is given on1, at a slow pace and with no frills: minimum ladies styling and no men's styling.. suitable for relaxed social dancing. If this is what you aspire to, this DVD is recommended.

Reviewed by Fabio - Good

Guide to Shines

Level: Beg-Int

Style: On 1

Content: Shines.

General Comment: With his customary down-to-earth, 'simplicity-first' approach, Lee presents us with a set of standard salsa shines and soma basic variations, organised in groups based on the shine's main feature: taps, suzyQs.. etc.

All shines are explained on 1, then shown in slow motion and finally danced to music. A beat counter helps following the timing in the slow motion and music sessions. Also included is a basic session containing body movements (body waves) and the elements of spinning: single and double left and right spins and variations; this makes the DVD self-contained for someone who wants to master all basic solo work.

It should be pointed out that while this is a shine and solo work DVD it is not a styling DVD. Lee does not teach how to look impressive and how to decorate, rather how to dance the basic elements of salsa solo work, which is what you will most likely use in a social dance. Suitable for a beginner or intermediate dancer who likes to dance and not to show off.

Reviewed by Fabio - Good

Guide to Cha Cha Cha

Level: Beg-Int

Style: Cha Cha Cha

Content: basic footwork and turn patterns.

General Comment: At the beginning of the DVD Lee claims that he will show us how to convert basic salsa moves to ChaChaCha music. In fact, I think he does a bit more than that, in the sense that it shows some salsa elements as well as a handful of turn patterns from the ballroom repertoire and puts this material together. Of course mixing salsa with ballroom is a delicate operation, since the result may displease everyone. Lee's choice makes sense though and I think the elements of ballroom he suggests to us are cleverly chosen and include simple moves and leads salsa dancers are not accustomed to. This, together with some salsa material taken from his 'Improvers guide to salsa' and 'Guide to shines', makes up a reasonable ChaChaCha repertoire for an intermediate dancer. A full session of the DVD is dedicated to making sure that ChaChaCha is danced on2, rather than on1, and it is properly done. As for all other DVDs from Lee, this also is targeted to a social dance audience, that is at dancers for whom simple and genuine enjoinment is more important than showing off the latest moves in order to make friends envious; for these people, this is a good product.

Reviewed by Fabio - Good

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