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Salsa & Mambo Video Reviews


Boogalu Videos

Danza Boxeo

Level: Int-Adv

: Cuban

Content: Footwork .

General Comment: I think there are roughly 3 reasons why we like to watch dance DVDs. One is to learn of course, the other one is to admire top quality dancers and third is to see what is around and hopefully to discover some talented and unusual dancer, someone with a style or a trick which we would not come across otherwise. This DVD belongs to the latter group: the unusual bit comes from a dancer with a background in Boxing, in actual fact a boxing coach and the talent, the dancing talent, is there as well. The DVD is about importing the footwork typical of boxing technique into salsa. If boxing is too rough for you to watch, you may want to know that boxing footwork requires small, quick steps, agility and lightness: you need to be in constant motion in order to move quickly out of the way of the attacker or to attack. Translate this into salsa, and you have a dancer improvising rich and fast footwork, with occasional double steps and sharp empathic accentuation of the music. Since the dancer moves around the dance floor a lot this suits Cuban style best. This results in fairly simple partner work, but much more freedom for the individual to express and interpret the music... this is what we all want right?

If you think it is hard to visualise, you can have a look here, or you can enjoy the very first clip of the DVD, which clears the mystery. In the demo Medina (the boxer-dancer) shows the best of his repertoire, which looks like a mixture of casino style, rumba, moonwalk and shuffling, all very sharp, very precise and very rhythmic. The rest of the DVD is simple but cleverly organised: the footwork is broken down from simple elements to more complex and for each footwork pattern there is a front view to see what it is about, a back view to practise with and extensive demonstration on how to incorporate it within dance partner work.

Novel DVDs are rarer and rarer and this one is a very welcome exception in a salsa community which is becoming more and more fossilised into pre-packed, ready-made styles.

Reviewed by : Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Reccomended

Rueda de Buen Ache

Level: Int-Adv

Style: Pure Cuban

Content: Demonstrations.

General Comment: This is a purely visual video: no instruction, no talking. But it takes you straight to Santiago de Cuba and immerses you in the atmosphere. You will see some nice cuban rueda, some free dancing, some performances from the Casa de La Trova as well as combination of one man dancing with two women and even with three women. All this with live son music in the background. You will be able to extract few figures if your eyes are quick or if you make good use of the slow motion control, but the core of the video is in the cuban style and the feel from the roots of salsa. A good video.

Reviewed by : Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Good


Salsa Suelta

Level: Beg-Int

Style: Pure Cuban

Content: Cuban Line dance steps

General Comment: Salsa Suelta refers to salsa steps that you can execute without a partner, in solo or in group. In a few words it is the equivalent of western line dancing. As for all Bugaloo videos, this also is filmed in Cuba (Havana in particular) with all local dancers. Some of them have a fairly good international reputation, like 'Nichito'. The video starts with some demonstration of line dancing and then the steps are demonstrated at a slower pace. There is no formal instruction in the video, so you will have to pick up the steps from the slow pace sections. The fact that the dancers dance in front of you (rather than you lookign at them from the back) does not help. Still you can learn several steps going from beginners to more advanced sequences. A brief section on how to dance 'on' and 'off' the music (equivalent to 'on 1' and 'on 2') is also included. The videos shows some 8 dancers, so you ill also be able to admire different personal styles.

Reviewed by : Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Good

Rumbon Tropical


Style: Rumba

Content: Dance Demonstration

General Comment: A good video is you like pure cuban roots. A hour long demonstration of pure rumba, filmed directly in Cuba. Great music, great singing, great dancing, from very young and very old dancers. You will wish you can dance like the old ones, not to mention the young ones... In Cuba traditions merge and flow from one into another, and, to demonstrate this, at the end you will see a mix of rumba and rap, music and dance.. a great buy.

Reviewed by: Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Reccomended

Mueve La Cintura


Style: Cuban Salsa

Content: Salsa Instruction

General Comment: This video is dedicated to Cuban Salsa. You will see several dance demonstrations by different couples. These demonstrations are basically free dancing with lots of improvisations. In addition, each couple has a unique style, which makes the video fun to watch. If you are an intermediate or an advanced dancer, you will be able to extract very nice Cuban figures and may be enrich your style. I also thought that the second part of the video was very interesting, since the director of the Cuban dance company "Ban Ra Ra" explains and demonstrates how Cuban Salsa is influenced by other dances. It is really good.

Reviewed by : Thea - Good

Danza Charanguero

Level: Beg/Adv

Style: Cuban Salsa

Content: Demos of Contradanza, Danzon, Bolero, Cha-Cha-Cha, Son, Mambo and Salsa.

General Comment: Boogalu Productions have made a considerable effort in recent years to document a large section of the Cuban dancing and music tradition and made it available to the outside world; this is a great service to dancers, and especially to US dancers who rarely travel to Cuba. If you can not afford to travel to Havana, this DVD offers you the possibility of tasting a social dance evening which, for the lovers of raw dancing, is much better than the many expensive shows for tourists you may see nowadays in the trendy night clubs in Havana. In actual fact, what is contained in the DVD is hard to find even if you do travel to Havana, since the producers have made an effort to reunite in a single venue a band and several dancers with considerable knowledge of some 80 years of Cuban music; here, they attempt to re-create the atmosphere which has characterised Havana popular culture for several decades. This is by no means easy to find in Havana today in standard tourist circles.

This DVD covers several dances, starting as far back as Contradanza, passing through Danzon, Cha Cha Cha, Bolero, Mambo, and reaching Salsa Casino, a certain chronological progression of what made today’s salsa,. The dancers stick to a very traditional style of dance (remember they try to show it to you as it was done then), which means very simple steps and no turns or complicated figures. There are interesting things to pick: you will clearly see how in the days of Contradanza, Danzon and Bolero, ‘africanity’ was still seen as something to transcend, so no hips movement for the women and a very elegant and restrained posture for the men. You will then see some resemblance of more modern style taking shape through Cha Cha Cha and Son, and we can start to notice where Dile Que No and other simple crucial elements come from. You may then get a shock in seeing Mambo.. well, the way they danced it then was VERY different from what we intend for mambo today, as popularised by the NY tradition, but then we reach more familiar territories with Casino etc..

Here and there interviews with the musicians and dancers will tell us about the days gone by and give other interesting aspects of the cultural background. This is not a DVD from which you will learn new tricks, and probably you will not watch it over and over again, but it is interesting and informative if you are not familiar with traditional popular Cuban dance.

Reviewed by : Fabio from SalsaIsGood - OK

Un Trio Inseparable

Level: Beg/Adv

Style: Danzon, Son, Cha Cha Cha

Content: Instructions and Demos.

General Comment: This is my favourite DVD from Boogalu Production: it contains unique material, very detailed instruction (which is not always easy to find in Cuban dancing) and an implicit tour into the history of salsa which is extremely instructive; the result is a must have, in my opinion, for serious salsa dancers at least from an educational perspective.

The DVD teaches 3 dances, Danzon, Son and Cha Cha Cha, covering what has been the ‘fashion of the day’ in Cuba from early 1900 to roughly the 50s. The instructor is a senior Cuban dancer, speaking a very good English, helped by a younger female demonstrator. Each dance is taught in its genuine, original form, at least as close to it as you are likely to ever find on any video recording. For each dance you will be shown the expected posture, attitude, basic steps and basic elements, all of which is in really clear detail, with all parts broken down for both the male and female dancer.

There is no turn pattern or challenging move to learn; as a result a superficial look at the DVD may lead you to think that there is much repetition in the explanation of the 3 dances, the only difference being the basic steps.. but this would miss the core value of the product. First, a crucial difference between the dances lies in the posture, the attitude and the relationship between the dances. Second, if you believe that here there is nothing much to learn except the basic steps you would miss the importance that the right posture and attitude and the attention to the relationship between dancers and music makes in the difference between an average and a good dancer (this is the concept which gives the name to the DVD itself). Third, you would miss the ‘historic’ treasure hidden in the DVD, which shows how salsa evolved from the rigid and constrained movement of Danzon (similar to old fashioned tango), when looking at moving like a white person was basically expected, to the introduction of hip movement in Son, which implicitly meant more acceptance of being ‘black’ and which was further developed in Cha Cha Cha, (notice also how the opening and closing of the dance position in Son is a precursor of the Dile Que No we use today). Finally it would be a pity to lose sight of the fact that 2 dancers may look good and have fun even by dancing 3 different dances by doing only basic steps. The demonstration of the three dances are a pleasure to watch from this perspective.

Reviewed by : Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Recommended


Level: Beg/Int

Style: Cuban Salsa

Content: Instructions and Demos.

General Comment: Boogalu Productions deserves a special place in the salsa community for having regularly brought to us a portrait of Cuban music and dance which is as faithful as it is instructive: while you can get a feel for NY and LA salsa even without travelling to either city (thanks to international congresses, instructional DVDs, local artists and YouTube), Cuba and its dance are another cup of tea, something you can breath only locally. Boogalu Production is the closest you can get to it without travelling to Cuba and to some extent it even delivers aspects that you may find hard to access by travelling there.

As the name suggest this DVD is about salsa casino style and is divided into 3 parts. In the first part a number of couples first perform together a rueda routine and then each dances separately to the same piece of music. The choice of the music is a particularly clever one, including a Guaguanco introduction, followed by a son/salsa session which breaks into a rhythmic session and a faster finale. This structure allows us to analyse how each couple interprets the different parts of the song. Here you have several models to tickle your inspiration: from very young to more senior dancers, from very black to very white, from tall to short, from very energetic to more stylish. There is no instruction here, so you need to watch and get inspired or use your remote control to explore the details.

The second part is dedicated to the couple who I believe justly deserve the closest attention and presents a simple but very elegant casino style demonstration. Here we are offered a close view of the details of both the footwork and body work.

Finally, the third part contains actual instruction of basic elements of casino style. It also offers some philosophy of dancing: the teachers suggest that we should bring our own styling into our dancing; this is so different from the accepted view in NY and LA style salsa, which is to learn style by imitating the latest star in fashion. The teaching does not go too deep into this philosophy unfortunately, but covers basic steps, simple turns, and movement on the dance floor and concludes with a further demonstrations which includes all the elements taught

Reviewed by : Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Good

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