Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dance to the beat of Salsa

Yesterday I had my first lesson of Salsa. Class started with basic steps (2-3-4 or quick-quick -slow) which none of us could get right for long ;) Our dance teacher seemed to be an optimist and appreciated our efforts on the first day. He kept on repeating "Salsa dancing involves exaggerated hip movement which should come naturally by the wieght shift due to steps."
At the end of day my right hip was in a bad condition.
But the I really liked the style - simple steps, not much of discipline but thoroughly enjoyable. This forced me dive more into SALSA style. I found some basic information so thought of putting them as well.

Hope you find them useful....

Salsa has become one of the most popular dance styles in the world today and is known for its sexy sassy moves performed to hot Latin rhythms. This is why it was termed as "Dance of Sex" initially but Sex appeared too harsh as the name so later on Sex was Replaced by Love. So now its known as "Dance of Love".

Salsa is danced on music with a recurring eight-beat pattern, i.e. two bars of four beats. Salsa patterns typically use three steps during each four beats, one beat being skipped. However, this skipped beat is often marked by a tap, a kick, a flick, etc. Typically the music involves complicated percussion rhythms and is fast with around 180 beats per minute.

Salsa is a slot or spot dance, i.e., unlike Foxtrot or Samba, in Salsa a couple does not travel over the dance floor much, but rather occupies a fixed area on the dance floor. In some cases people do the Salsa in solo mode.

The history of salsa is not easily defined. Who invented salsa? The Cubans, Puerto Ricans? Truth is that salsa is a fusion of many Latino and Afro-Caribbean dances, which each played a large part in its evolution. Some of these dance styles are Mambo, Chá, Guaracha, Changuí, Lukumí, Palo Montel, Rumba, Yambú, Abakuá, Comparsa and some times even Mozambique.

The word Salsa:
Salsa means 'sauce' in the Spanish language and has more recently acquired a musical meaning in both English and Spanish. In this sense salsa has been described as a word with "vivid associations but no absolute definitions, a tag that encompasses a rainbow assortment of Latin rhythms and styles, taking on a different hue wherever you stand in the Spanish-speaking world".

The basic movement occurring in the dance patterns of the various salsa styles is the stepping on the beat of the music. Salsa is best grouped in pairs of 4-beat patterns counted "1-2-3-...-5-6-7-...". The leader starts on count 1 by stepping with the left foot. On count 2 and 3, they step with right and left, respectively. On count 4, the lead pauses or makes an optional tap with the right foot. On counts 5, 6, and 7, they step with right, left, and right, respectively, again followed by a pause on count 8. As a standard, every step must be taken with full weight transfer. The follower part is identical, but with left and right reversed. In all patterns and styles, the leader starts with the left foot and the follower starts with the right foot.

Basic Step:
The term "basic step" normally refers to a forward-backward motion. On counts 1, 2, and 3, the leader steps forward, replaces, and steps backward. On count 5, 6, and 7, they step backwards, replace, and step forward again. The follower does the same, but with forward and backward reversed, so that the couple goes back and forth as a unit. This basic step is part of many other patterns. For example, the leader may dance the basic step while leading the follower to do an underarm turn.

The following variants of the Basic step may be used, often called breaks.

* Forward break: Starting from any foot, step Forward, Replace, In-place, counting 1,2,3 or 5,6,7.
* Back break: Starting from any foot, step Backward, Replace, In-place, counting 1,2,3 or 5,6,7.
* Side break: Starting from any foot, step Sideways, Replace, In-place, counting 1,2,3 or 5,6,7.

What style do you dance?

What style do you dance? A question of often heard in the salsa scene, as with the salsa music the dance has evolved and adapted according to the influences surrounding it.

The most common styles are New York also known as mambo, LA style and Cuban.

New York style:
Along with LA style, New York style is one of the most popular styles that can be seen around the world today, as the name indicates this style originated in New York. In New York, salsa is also known as Mambo. This reflects the origins of salsa dancing in New York City.
One of the unique features of New York style salsa is that it is ‘danced on 2’, which means that the first step is taken on the second beat, as opposed to the first beat or as it is referred to in salsa ‘on 1’.

LA Style:
As name implies Los Angeles, USA has developed its own characteristic style of salsa. It is one of the most popular salsa styles around today.

The primary influence in LA style is West Coast and Latin Ballroom, which is noticeable in the flamboyant moves such as the many dips, spins, drops and complicated entwining turn patterns … enough to dazzle any spectators' eyes.

Cuban style:
Cuban Salsa, also known as 'Casino Salsa', involves dance moves which are characterised by complicated arm movements. The foot work in Cuban style involves a lot of circular motions where couples walk around each other while performing various intertwining turns.


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