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Salsa & Mambo Video Reviews


Pupy Insua

Rumba 4 Mambo Dancers Level 1

Level: Beg-Intermediate

Style: Rumba - Mambo

Content: Style - basic elements.

General Comment: The number one dilemma facing all salsa instructors is how to teach students to incorporate expressivity and ‘feeling’ into their dance. In the old days of mostly improvised instructors the formula was ‘Mira, mira’ (‘Watch, look at me’) or ‘ You need to feel it!’. This did not get students very far. Then, with a new generation of technically skilled instructors we went overboard in the opposite direction: endless spins, intricate shines, artificial styling, ‘choreographed’ feelings.. this did take students very far, but maybe too far.

Pupy, in the closing lines of this series, says more or less the following, “dancing is about steps, body and intentions, you guys have the steps, now you need the body and the intentions”.. holy words.. thanks to Paul and Cathy Calderon for putting them on DVD and delivering them to us.

The stated intention of this DVD is as noble as it can be.. to bring some rumba feel back into Mambo. As they explain, Cathy and Paul have been members of the Eddie Torres Dancers in the old days and when they go out dancing they do not see the original feel in today’s mambo.. the roots of rumba, they say, have been lost. They try to bring them back thanks to a flamboyant and extremely talented dancer, Pupy, straight from Cuba, who does the teaching and most of the demonstrations.

Pupy is indeed quite extraordinary, as good a rumba dancer as you may hope to find in a DVD, topped by an infectious charisma and unusual richness of expressivity. Simply watching him has compensated me for the cost of the DVD. His merging in with the live percussion (nice addition to the DVD), his vocalising every move, his facial decoration of most steps, make you realise, at once, what may be missing from your (and my!) dancing.

Paul and Cathy play the role of the students and help Pupy explain the exercises. There are no steps ‘per se’ in this DVD, not even rumba steps (these are in Volume 2), rather attention to body movements, body isolation exercises and basic rumba movements. An introductory note on the history of mambo from Cathy and Paul is also welcome.

So, has the dilemma finally been sorted out? Probably not, since it may very well be one of those Zen riddles which require you to spend 20 years alone in the forest, but Cathy and Paul, thanks to Pupy, made a step ahead..

Reviewed by : Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Good

Rumba 4 Mambo Dancers Level 2

Level: Beg-Intermediate

Style: Rumba - Mambo

Content: Style - basic elements.

General Comment: To my total amazement, this DVD has a number of rumba steps actually broken down, slowly to their basic elements. I have taken a number of rumba classes in Cuba and at home, attended rumba workshops and watched rumba DVDs, but I have never actually seen an instructor breaking down some steps with the precision and detail that a western mind may require. Pupy does so in this DVD and I am extremely grateful for this.

Pupy shows 5 “steps”, or brief sequences, which incorporate footwork, and overall body work. He breaks them down slowly, shows them from different angles, explains carefully what the hips and the body need to do, describe the arm decorations and pays due attention to the placement of the body weight in each transition. He then explains what each move is meant to mean within a couple dance and consequently what expressivity you may need to employ in its execution. All this is done in a colourful Spanish, but the subtitles are clear and you will be able to follow properly even without understanding Pupy’s words.

Once the steps are explained, Pupy shows them danced to rumba music and then to Mambo music, basically using them as sort of ‘shines’. Cathy and Paul, then, show how to incorporate them within the standard on-line mambo we dance today. Their purpose is to show how these steps fit within the music and how they help to give flavour to an otherwise plain dance.

In other words, this DVD actually delivers what was introduced and promised in Volume 1. Well worth it!!

Reviewed by : Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Recommended

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