Readers, it was almost unbelievable to receive two emails commenting
about the subject of dance styles; and I knew this could spark a "debate"
about how salsa should be danced.
Okay, I give up everyone! just keep coming back to check how passionate our readers are about dancing salsa! Rose Knows...
|Our Readers asked...|
|Our Feedback...||Jan 10, 2001 from Mario|
|Jan 11, 2001 from Graham|
|Jan 11, 2001 from Steve Shaw, Webmaster of SalsaNewYork|
Jan 12, 2001 from Ismael Otero, New Jersey on "2" Dance Instructor, Director of Caribbean Soul Dancers
||January 15, 2001, a rebuttal from Jo. Kim|
|January 15, 2001, Cuban dancing from Jo. Kim|
|January 18, 2001 from Robert Vidal, New York on "2" Dancer and Part-Time Instructor|
|January 22, 2001 Rebuttal from L. Brito regarding Myths about Cuban Dancing|
|January 26, 2001 - Andres who strongly defends LA style|
|January 30, 2001 - Latina responding to Jo Kim|
||January 30, 2001 - Jo Kim provides a site which shows cuban style dancing on videotape|
|February 6, 2001 - Rebuttal to Andres from January 26th from Jo Kim|
|February 6, 2001 - Rebuttal to Latina from January 30th from Jo Kim|
||February 12, 2001 - Rebuttal to Jo Kim by Daniel|
|February 14, 2001 - Note to Jo Kim from Sonia|
|March 1, 2001 - Rebuttal to Andres from Jo Kim|
|March 6, 2001 - Rebuttal to Jo Kim from Andres|
|March 18, 2001 - Rebuttal to Andres from Jo Kim|
|April 4, 2001 - To Jo Kim/Andres from a Latin DJ in Jamaica!|
|April 4, 2001 - Support for Jo Kim from Lulita|
|May 3, 2001 - Cuban Dancing from Lulita|
|May 25, 2001 - Jo Kim Supporter from Mazacote|
|June 2, 2001 - For god's sake -- it's DANCING!!! - Unknown|
|Click here for more letters...|
I have to be honest. The comments I read referring to what Toronto Salsa is, or rather, what it should be, were bothersome.
In an attempt to define Salsa, the authors (diplomatically, of course) implied that what one sees on the dance floors in Toronto, LA or even New York, is not "really" Salsa.
That's disappointing. So, the debate to define Salsa continues...here's my two cents and maybe more.
First, who cares - enjoy it, have fun...that's what Salsa...that's what dance is about.
Salsa music is a mix of afro-carribean rythms like Son or Mambo. Some people believe that Salsa was originated in Cuba, maybe Puerto Rico but definitely someplace warm.
The reality is that the movement that originatd this music or Salsa, began in New York and does have a Jazz influence. Young, American musicians, with Latin backgrounds, were mixing sounds and rhythms trying to come up with a new one that would be different.
In the 70's, Salsa music basically exploded and got the attention of the entire world. Today, you can visit Japan or Hong Kong and say Salsa and everybody knows what you're talking about.
So, the music comes from New York but the dance moves come from...I did some research (thank you Lord for the Internet) and you may not believe this...cause, I didn't.
Sure, we can talk about Mambo. But, that would be easy. So, where did Mambo originate. Cuba? Mambo is the result of a long, cross-cultural journey of African and European parents. This is why I love history.
Mambo can be traced back to an unexpected source, despite its African resonance...it is...English country dance. In the 17th century, it became the contredanse at the French court and later, the contradanza in Spain.
In the 18th century the contradanza reached Cuba where it was known as danza and became the national dance.
Hatians added a particularly spicy syncopation to it called the cinquillo, which is also found in the tango...also derived from the contradanza. Gradually, other cultural elements found their way into the contradanza.
By the end of the 19th century, the contradanza evolved into a more spontaneous dance by couples replacing the starchy formality of the contredanse.
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that Salsa has evolved from everywhere and everyone. Let's enjoy it and learn from each other.
See you on the dance floor, Mario
"I am pleased to introduce to you, Ismael Otero, of the Caribbean Soul Dancers from New Jersey, NY, who took the time to provide another opinion. If you came to the Toronto Salsaweb Convention last April, you would have had a chance to see him and his dance troupe in action! They are a rowdy, but funky group of dancers who always have a great time wherever they go and their energy keeps them going and going all night long! He was at every convention I attended last year -- LA's West Coast Salsa Congress in May and the Montreal Salsa Congress in August. Edie the Salsa Freak named him the "Million Moves Man", just because you can never predict what move he's going to do next -- they're never the same! And if you watch him dance, especially with one of his sisters, Yesenia or .... -- you'll never forget them either! Thank you again, Ismael for responding so quickly!" RoseKnows.
Rebuttal -- Salsa came from everywhere and everyone? Does salsa come from China too? True, Latin American culture is an amalgam of European, African and Amerindian elements. No wonder its music is extraordinarily varied and diverse. Even the word Salsa implies a mixture of different ingredients. But Salsa remains basically Afro-Cuban music.
This is not to deny the important contributions of New York Puerto Ricans and other Latinos and Jazz, but without Cuban music, there would not exist Salsa. On the other hand, if Cuban music had been cut off from foreign influences, there would still exist something very similar to Salsa in Cuba.
True, mambo music has distant roots in French contredanse. But Cuban contradanza took on African derived elements. Mambo music and how it is danced is very different from European court dances. How do you dance Salsa French contredanse style?
Secondly, while there might exist some controversy about the origins of Salsa, mambo and cha-cha-cha are undoubtedly and distinctly Cuban.
Thirdly, real Mambo is NOT a social dance. It is not danced with male-female partners. It orginated as a show dance dance during the gangster era in Cuba, like how the Mambo kings danced at the Palladium in New York. That's why you don't hear mambo played regularly in the Latin nightclubs here.
as a word for a type of music was made popular by New York's Fania's
records. It symbolized the new take on Afro-Cuban music that the Puerto
Rican New Yorkers played during the 1970's. They introduced new Jazz
harmonies in the orchestation. But most these musicians studied under
looked in one book one reader suggested Musica: The Rhythm of Latin
America. There was only one
North America, Latin American dancing became professionalized. Failed
modern or jazz dancers
most Latin dances, Salsa started put in the poorer sectors of society.
Salsa is a street dance. You can dance it however you want. Many people
believe Ballroom and California style salsa is an improvement on Cuban
salsa dancing. Well, it's their right. When I see a guy wearing high
I saw the Bicardi Salsa Congress at Puerto Rico last year. There were not many good dancers. Although I enjoyed the old Mambo dancers. Nobody danced the real thing, except a group from Cali, Colombia. But it was strange that no Cubans were invited. I guess they would be too good or the band would be much better (there was no Gran Combo this year). It would ruin everything. Although recently it has changed, the American economic embargo has prevented Cuban music and artists from performing in the United States. Without this political and economic barrier for the past 40 years, Cuban music and dancing would have left a greater imprint on North American music and dancing. In Europe (except England and Russia) people are taught Cuban-style salsa. -- Jo. Kim
I would like to make a comment regarding what some of your readers said about dancing salsa. First thing I should say is that I'm Puerto Rican but I was born and raised in NYC. I have always grown up dancing at family functions and parties. When I first learned to dance I was taught that I should go side to side and kick. To most people who never took a formal lessons for Mambo/Salsa (by the way there is no difference between the two) -- this is dancing Salsa. What I actually came to realize is that that style of dancing is a butchered form of Cumbia (a typically Mexican and Columbian dance). When I first started to take lessons and go dancing with people who were "really" dancing Salsa, I started to move back and forth. Then, in my conversations with Eddie Torres himself, as well as my Grandfather who used to hang out with the original Palladium dancers in the Palladium, I began to realize that Mambo is something that became popularized in clubs around the 40's and 50's. Eddie Torres told me that he danced that way all his life. It was only later on that a teacher taught him timing. There is no one person who can claim to be the founder of the dance. The dance has undergone an evolution. Yes it probably did start as a mixture of African dance AS WELL as Native American dance, but the fact remains that it grew and evolved into its own entity.
As for who and how it should be danced.... we'll who became salsa God??? There is no rule book and no official or sanctioned way it should be danced. The dance is still evolving!!! Things will always look funny or weird to people of different places. I tend to believe that salsa will go the way of the trend happening now in NYC and in LA. As for the ballroom thing... how can anyone say it looks like ballroom??? Have you seen any of the Dance Sport Competitions? I don't think anyone in clubs looks like that. Some times I goof on ballroom because it doesn't even look like they are doing anything that resembles Mambo or Cha Cha.
On a personal note, I think that the true nature of Mambo/Salsa is social. I think it is that aspect that makes it so great. You need to be able to bond with your partner, even if only for a five minute dance. Strangers are no longer strangers for at least one song. As long as Mambo/Salsa can do that then who cares if we all look a little different. My advice to any dancer is to try to find the style that you like best and dance that way. Who cares what everyone else thinks!!!
22, 2001 - Rebuttal from L. Brito
whole point is that people who dance different styles should respect
I've heard people say that Cuban style is and OLD and outdated style. I've heard others say that NY style on 2 is TOO slow. And also, I've heard that Columbian style is not even a recognised style because they dance cumbia to salsa.
I think in the end, people will dance the style that they like best. I personally love L.A. style salsa, I think the Vasquez brothers have revolutionised salsa dancing - I guess its for a reason that Eddie Torres crowned Johnny Vasquez the "Prince of Salsa" at the Puerto Rico Congress 2000.
If you prefer one style over the other, great, learn your craft well, have fun, and respect others. -- Andres
January 30, 2001
Free video clips
Many people in Toronto have never seen Cuban style dancing. But I found a company
selling dance videos directly from Cuba. The address is : www.salsaville.com. Look under the Salsa a la Cubana section. You can watch free video samples from these tapes. And then you can decide yourself. But Cuban dancing is NOT the side to side rock back cumbia step of Toronto a few years ago. Cubans do the "mambo" step", but they move so much, they don't think of the steps. -- Jo Kim
6, 2001 - Rebuttal to Andres (Jan 26) from Jo Kim
For me, California Salsa is much choreography. If your partner has not taken that particular class with that particular teacher, they can't follow you. A Cuban guy can dance with anybody. The moves in California seem preplanned and take way from the improvised spontaneous nature of Salsa. But it is a better business though. With the invention of new choreography, there are a unlimited number of classes, even advanced dancers can take. California has no great Salsa music scene or tradition. There are few Caribbean people and most of the Latinos are from Mexico. Mexico has no great Salsa tradition.
February 6, 2001 - Rebuttal to Latina (Jan 30) from Jo Kim
I am not making fun of people who are learning to dance. Quite the opposite. I am making fun of the people who think they know everthing about dancing salsa and the industry that produced them. There are some people who think North American Salsa dancing is more advanced than in Latin countries. Because of economic and political reasons (i.e. American trade embargo), Cuban music and dance has not had the influence it should have. Cuba couldn't compete with the reach and power of New York - Puerto Rican music industry. But like Cuban music is the root of Salsa, Cuban style dancing is the root of all Latin dancing. You don't have to be Latin or Cuban to dance well or teach, but you have to know the music, the rhythms and the culture. It seems ludicrous for me to call you yourself a "professional" Salsa teacher, without trying to learn Spanish or not ever having visited Cuba? Don't you want to understand what you are listening to? How can you call yourself salsero, if you have never seen Cuban style dancing or you don't know any of the popular salsa groups in Cuba Cuba now? Why don't more DJs here play more Cuban salsa music like timba? It's actually better music for dancing. (To listen to popular Cuban Salsa, go to : www.timba.com
Salsa is an americanized version of Cuban music. I don't mean in a bad way. It's good music too. Salsa is a way for many latinos in the United States and Canada to express their "Latin" heritage. They can communicate with each other through Salsa because many of them have lost the power to communicate through Spanish. Many of them come from or their parents come from countries like Mexico, Chile, Ecuador that have not made any significant contribution to the evolution of Salsa, but they use Salsa to express stereotypical images of Latin passion to the gringos. I also think that it is great that salsa has become popular throughout the world. But what Canadian people don't realize is that Salsa is not the popular music of many Latin contries and even in Cuba and Colombia, Salsa is being replaced by rap and rock en espanol. If you want to hear what real young Latin people are listening to, go to Momentos, across the street from Babaluu.
February 12, 2001 - Rebuttal to Jo Kim by Daniel
In response to Jo kim's analysis of salsa dancing and salsa music, I would to address some issues.
First off, I disagree that salsa music is Cuban music. It has its roots in the Cuban son but it also has incorporated other elements and genres of music. Salsa is from New York, Salsa is product of Latinos living in the U.S. As Willie Colon says, "it is an urban Pan-American movement" & "an ever evolving and developing concept."
Puerto Ricans were primarily involved, but there were also people of Venezuelan, Colombian, Panamanian, and even Jewish American background. Cubans also played a role.
I would recommend that everyone read the book "Salsiology" by Vernon Boggs. One will find out via the historical analysis that most Cuban musicians (in the U.S.) at the time were not interested in continuing to play the son. They were primarily interested in playing other genres such as Charanga. It is documented that they viewed what became known as Salsa as "music of the negro", "music of the lower classes" and thus wanted nothing to do with.
My question is if Salsa is Cuban music, why were the Cubans the least of all the musicians to play it? Why was not Miami, instead of NY, the hotbed for this music? Machito once said "If it weren't for the Puerto Ricans, I would not be there". Non-Cuban latinos took the essence of the Cuban son and transformed it, took it to a new level, and made it into what is today.
To say that Salsa music is really Cuban music, is to say that really Cuban music is African and European music. That really, the Cubans have stolen these traditions, sing in spanish, and have given them new names such as son, mambo, danzon. This argument sounds absurd right? It does, it is as nonsensical as the claim that Salsa is Cuban music.
Jo Kim talks about Timba, this is a style of music that can be called Cuban. But even in Timba they incorporate non-Cuban influences such as hip-hop/rap, American rock, etc. Going by Jo Kim's logic, shall we now all say that Timba has is really North American music in the guise of a particular style of Cuban music? Irakere, Los Van Van, Banda NG are exceptionally talented musicians who play and incorporate many styles - yet no one would call their music "non-Cuban".
With regards to salsa dancing. Jo Kim's comments seem to border on absurd nationalism. No one is born a dancer, know one is born with the cross-body lead in their genes. Everyone has to learn some way or another. Everyone does do psuedo-choreography when learning how to dance, you would be able to dance if you didn't practice.
Salsa music and dancing did not exist in 1950s Cuba.
No matter what style you dance, every move and combination is not a result of instant spontaniety. Most moves are learned and practiced beforehand. It is only when you have "mastered" these moves that they then become "spontaneous" expressions of the dance. Cubans do this as well as everybody else who dances salsa, no matter what nationality you are.
Mexico has no salsa tradition? Yeah you are right, neither does Cuba. New York has the salsa tradition.
I wasn't aware that because one is Mexican it automatically makes you not a good salsa dancer. I wonder what Salsa Brava, Los Rumberos, Salsabor y Cache would say about this.
Using Jo Kim's line or argument no Cuban could ever be a great Tango dancer, or no Puerto Rican could ever really dance Bachata or merengue. It really all comes down to birthplace and bloodlines, funny, I thought it was about dancing.
Going by the logic of Jo Kim, the only real and good dancers are Caribeans of Cuban descent who danced in the 1950s - specifically, "pure" Cubans, not Cubans living in U.S. b/c they apparently have lost their heritage just like every other latino. By the way, Salsa Lover's Dance Studio gave a show at the Salsa Congress in Puerto Rico (its director, Rene, is of Cuban descent).
Thus, Miami-style Casino does not count, or any other North Anerican based Cuban style for that matter according to the line of logic of Jo Kim.
I respect and enjoy all the salsa styles. LA, NY, and Cuban. Latin Ballroom is a whole different ballgame that really has nothing to do with dancing you do at the nightclubs. LA style salsa is a wonderful addition to the salsa cannon. It is a driving force behind the resurgence of the popularity of salsa dancing.
February 14, 2001 - Note to Jo Kim from Sonia
I'm wondering if Jo Kim teaches salsa dance or musical theory. I would certainly be interested in attending any classes offered by Jo Kim since the rest of us don't have a clue about "real salsa" or "real cuban music".
It would also appear that Jo Kim is a sociologist who has been able to define the essence of being a "real young latin." The rest of us confused latinos who head out on a Saturday night for an evening of leisure dancing, we should stop trying to be "passionate latinos" for the mere sake of impressing our non-latino friends (please stop using the "g" word to refer to non-latinos, it is derogatory). But, who am I to comment? I figure that as an Ecuatoriana who grew up in T.O. I'm probably too busy perpetuating latino stereotypes than getting in touch with my real latin heritage. Jo Kim get a grip. A lot of us latinos who go out to dance salsa, do so for the enjoyment of dancing. The majority of people who I've seen dance at clubs don't look like "professionals" nor do they look like they are rehearsing choreography learned at a studio.
Please don't generalize about the salseros who head out to the T.O. clubs. Some of us are more fluent in Spanish than some of the people living in latin america; some of us not only have visited our country of origin but also have travelled through other parts of latin america; some of us have also pursued a higher education in Spanish literature, latin american studies etc.; some of us enjoy reading the great authors of latin america... So the next time you see a young latina dacing at some club, don't assume that you know everything about her and that she knows nothing about herself or her culture.
Sincerely, a very proud Ecuatoriana dancer
someone recommends that I read a book about the "real" origins
of Salsa, I find evidence to support my argument. People should read
all of the book instead of reading selectively. The facts and quotes
that Andres uses are often taken out of context and without historical
quite simple. I will use an example many people know: the Buena Vista
Social Club's remake of Benny More classic "Que bueno baila Usted".
This song was first recorded before the "invention" of Salsa.
But to my ears and to most people ears, the difference between this
song and New York Salsa is very marginal. A "modern Salsa"
(it sounds the same to me) version of this song plays at Babalu's
often. Sergio George, a leading producer in New York salsa, incoporated
Cuban songo and timba into hits by DLG, Marc Anthony, etc. Juliana
by DLG is actually a Cuban son. Andres seem to suggest Cubans rejected
Salsa because it was considered black music. But anyone who has listened
to Cuban music, knows it is the more African influenced, more African
syncopated Salsa. More blacks in Cuba make up popular Salsa groups
than Puerto Rico, being less bound to commercial tastes than New York
and Puerto Rico. Racism exists in every country. But after the Cuban
Revolution, more opportunities exist for musicians of African descent
than any other Latin country. This answers
Fania records invented and marketed the name Salsa. It was the first Latin music were production values were of paramount importance. It had enough resources and money to promote itself throughout the world. They promoted themselves as the inventors of this kind of music. Puerto Rican nationalists used salsa to create a cultural identity. Puerto Rico has always had an identity problem because the American presence is so strong there. Cuba record companies couldn't compete with Fania then, and they can't compete with Sony now. Fania released a movie "Our Latin Thing" (Nuestra Cosa) which made the suggestion that Salsa came directly from Africa to New York, skipping Cuba entirely. The public was not made aware that much of material used by Fania artists were composed by Cubans. Composers were written as Derechos Reservados (Reserved Rights). Cubans were never recognized and compensated because of the American economic embargo.
never heard of those Salsa groups from Mexico. Are they chicanos or
Mexicans? They must not be very popular. I don't know any Mexicans
who have heard of them and I know a lot. They can't name one Salsa
group from Mexico. And Rene from Salsa Lovers' studio, for me he is
a ballroom dancer.
First I would like to address the issue with the dance groups from L.A. Los Rumberos, Salsa Brava, Salsabor y Cache are not from Mexico, they are from L.A.
It is interersting to note that Jo Kim criticises L.A. style salsa and yet for some reason has never heard of the actual people who are the forerunners and pioneers of the dance style. It is ironic for someone who appears to know alot about salsa music and salsa dance styles, and who has put down L.A. style salsa, has never heard of the Vasquez brothers. Watch "Dance with Me", or any of the Salsa Congress videos. See Jennifer Lopez's video "Waiting for Tonight", or try Marc Anthony's video "I need to Know". The Vasquez brothers have appeared in so many shows and videos that I have lost track. Their dance companies are in immense demand all over the world. I think maybe you should make a trip to L.A. and see for yourself.
L.A. style has revolutionised salsa dancing. This does not mean that NY or Cuban are less valid or less attractive. I enjoy and appreciate all the styles. In fact I am so happy there are other styles, heaven help us if we all had to dance the same way and not deviate from a proposed standard. I hope other styles develop, I welcome them all.
I oppose someone taking a narrow interpretation of a dance style and try to force it down other peoples throat (the old "my way or the highway" routine). So what if you prefer one style over the other? Who are you to say what is better and what is not? People will cling to whatever style they like best. I think the key is that you keep an open mind to other styles and learn from it. If Jo Kim is upset over the lack of Cubans or the Cuban style in the Congress, then all I have to say is start your own group of Cuban style and go perform. There is nothing stopping you. The Salsa Congress does not barr Cuban style dancers.
By the way, Salsa Lover's Dance Studio did a great job at the Congress. It was great to have them perform there. Ballroom? Maybe to Jo Kim. For the rest, it was Cuban style at its finest.
It seems that alot of the close minded people who have bashed and continue to bash L.A. style salsa appear to be envious of its surging popularity. It is primarily L.A. salseros who are appearing and continue to be cast in movies, music videos etc.
When I speak of L.A. salsa, I am not speaking of bands. I am referring to the dance style. L.A. has its salsa bands and so does every other city in North America.
I don't understand Jo Kim's reference to Mexico, Argentina in the arguments she makes. Salsa music and salsa dancing is a product of the Latino presence in North America.
I am not disagreeing about the roots of salsa. Yes, its origins are in the son. I don't anyone is denying that. But I think it is important to emphasise the word "roots" and "origins". Salsa as we know it is from New York.
Salsa is and will always be a music that represents and reflects Latino life in North America. Now Salsa has become so internationalised that it has acquired a world-wide mass appeal.
Salsa took the Cuban son, transformed it, reinterpreted it, added bomba, plena, jazz, cumbia.
If you take 1970s Nuyorican salsa and contrast that with 1950s Cuban music, sure there are similarities (clave, etc.), but overall they are distinct sounds. Got to a nightclub in NY or LA, and play some old 1950s Cuban music, you will most likely get a different response.
Cuba has son, timba, mozambique, mambo, cha-cha. Latin North America (NY, Miami, LA) has salsa. Cuba has all of its musical genres that fall under the rubric of "Cuban music". Its roots and origins are African, yet you would be crazy to make the argument that Mambo, son, is really "African music" - that Cubans have stolen the African rhythms.
Or can one imagine making the argument that the Tango is not really Argentinian b/c really its rhythms are from Western Europe and so how dare Argentinians claim that this dance and music is theirs!
The same goes for Brazilian music, they took and brought African, Native American, and European sounds, transformed them, reinterpreted them and thus created a plethora of musical genres. Can you imagine saying that Samba is not Brazilian music?
Cuba has made immense contributions to Latin music, no one is denying that. Cuba has and will always be seen as the cradle of great music.
Salsa like every other genre of music has its birthplace, Tango - Argentina, Cumbia - Columbia, Samba - Brazil. Salsa was born in New York, Latin NY. Salsa will always represent the Latino experience in North America. It has created a common bond for all Latino nationalities living in North America.
March 18, 2001 - Jo Kim's Rebuttal to Andres
Cecilia Cruz, the Queen of New York Salsa states, "Salsa is Cuban music with another name. It's mambo, chachacha, rumba, son, all the Cuban rhythms under one name,
author of Musica and the Salsa section of the World Music: The
No one, no matter how anti-communist their stance would deny that Salsa is essentially Cuban music.
writes "Can you imagine saying Samba is not Brazilian or that
Tango is not Argentinian?". Well, for me that is like saying
Salsa is not Cuban music. Every Cuban and Latin American person living
in Latin America knows that Salsa is basically Cuban music. What do
you call the music played by Los Van Van, Irakere, Abalberto y su
Son, etc.? Most of these bands developed in Cuba without hearing New
York Salsa for many years because of the economic embargo.
4, 2001 - To Jo Kim/Andres from a Latin DJ in Jamaica!
I am a Latin Dj from a little Caribbean Island called Jamaica.. and whenI logged on to Tosalsa, I couldn't believe that the same crap that's being argued about in Jamaica, was going on anywhere else in the world!
Despite all the facts and History lessons offered, the writer's keep straying from the point... the questions are concerning the "dance styles" and not the music! No-one disputes the many and varied origins of Salsa music. Each region made it's own input, and the blending of sounds has many facets and roots (I will not endeavour to repeat them).
So lets talk about the dancing, and I'll give you an idea of where my mindset comes from! Bye the way, salsa dancing is really bigf in Jamaica! The force behind the movement is a group called Csas (Caribbean South American Sound), whose dance instructor Keith-Anthony Cousins was trained in Toronto. That doesn't follow that all the dancing is TO style - absolutely not! In Jamaica, we have a wide mix of Latinos; Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Columbians and brothers and sisters from the Dominican Republic, who are in the Island for work, school, vacation etc., on a continual basis!
As a result, the main salsa club in Kingston (the Jonkanoo Lounge, Hilton Hotel), always has people from different backgrounds, with their own music requests and own style of dancing! As a Dj and a salsero myself, this has taught me one important lesson.... your backgroung determines "how" you HEAR the music; and "what" you HEAR determines how you DANCE!
Once while enjoying a night at the club, a professional Cuban dance instructor at the Jamaican School of Dance, only in Jamaica for a few years, but learned in dance techniques from ballet to the jive (but he only dances authentically Cuban at the club), taught me an inportant lesson: "People talk about salsa dancing, and they are incorrect! Salsa is the music - mixed with all different types of sounds, instruments and nuances, but not everyone can hear, understand or formulate them all into a rhythm. They way that you dance to salsa is basically your own interpretation of a three-step beat... but salsa dancing has no set pattern!"
Before you smirk... think about it! I have seen the dance instuctor teach salsa dancing to Russians - no offence, but most Russians have no rhythm, no concept of timing, no in-born ability to "catch the beat". But she could count "1-2-3, & 1-2-3.." - thus she learned to enjoy dancing to a music that captivated her mind, a music that made her want to float... it was the only way that she could enjoy dancing to salsa!
Far be it from anyone to take it away from her! Point is, we all do not have the background that makes us hear all the nuances of the music, and no-one can "really" dance tha Casino like a Cuban, but so what? Should Jamaicans insist that no-one else in the world should dance to reggae? No-one else moves like us - and even though it may be English... can you repeat the words, let alone understand them the way we do? Does that give us a right to criticise... no, instead, we show the world what we know, then stand back and watch in amazement, as the world puts their own interpretaion onto it - we are just glad that reggae is being played in every corner of the globe! Enough said!
In Jamaica, TO-style dancing is taught, and is very popular, because of the spins and dips! However, there is nothing routine about it - because after the classes are over, everything that happens is new and invented, with influences taken from all different dance styles! As a male, I dance well, and can dance with any woman, no matter where she is from! The Cuban women love to dance with me - even though I don't do the Cuban style... but I am influenced by it! But that is not the same of all dancers - some of us have more rhythm than others, but that doesn't make us better people or more privaleged - it gives us more responsibility, to keep teaching others, and to keep the salsa fire lit, because more eyes are on us than anyone else!!
thing... I entered an amateur dance competition with my dance partner,
at a club some months ago! At the time, my partner only knew basic
To-style dancing, but we look very graceful together (being both tall),
and we had been taught a few spins and dips. The Latin event and competition
was for fun, but was put on by Cubans who wanted to show us Jaamicans
"the real thing". They were in charge of the night, Cuban
food, a Cuban band, Cuban friends and music... and we danced against
five other couples, mainly Cubans, and were judged by an audience
almost entirely made up of Cubans: guess who won the competition?
Hm,, that's something, eh? Rose - keep up the good work... more time
April 4, 2001 - Support for Jo Kim from Lulita
I am a Cuban woman. So, you probably know where I think Salsa is from or which style of Salsa dancing I think is the best. I think the problem is that people don't know the difference between social dancing and show dancing.
The same thing happened with Tango in Los Angeles. Americans saw the show "Forever Tango" and they thought that was they way Tango was danced. So, all of them rushed to learn from teachers who were from Argentina (even though nobody heard of them in Argentina). They learned all the acrobatic flips, turns all the while thinking that this is real Tango.
People who don't know all about Salsa or who had never seen Salsa before, are too easily impressed with quick turns, dips and flips. They learn Salsa because they want to show off to their friends these "hot tricks". It becomes a skill rather enjoying the music. They never learn the history of the music and the clave. If you tell them to do the basic step in a different way or walk with the basic step, they can't do it, because they are so used to dancing in one way and so rigidly. Nobody in the dance floor will stay in the way of his spins and dips. They do the spins as fast as they can, even though it has nothing to do with the music. Often he or she practices without music. Cuban dancing may not look as showy as other types of Salsa dancing. Maybe that's why it is not popular with beginners. But Cuban dancing is much more difficult then it looks. It is more demanding rhythmically... Lulita
3, 2001 - Additional Comments from Lulita re Cuban Dancing
not every Cuban dances better than Canadians or Americans. We are
25, 2001 - Jo Kim Supporter from Mazacote
When dancing cha cha cha, son, guaracha, rumba...etc., they actually listen to the music. They pause when the music pauses, change from son to cha cha cha, when the music builds they become more excited; it's smooth and beautiful to watch. It seems that alot of Salseros aren't even listening: they don't change their styles when the music changes and alot of the time they don't even end when the song ends. In the older music, like the Danzon, the musicians would play with the dancers; make different changes. Sure you could still improvise alot, but the basic rhythms, breaks, end, etc have to be followed.
Part 1 - January to June, 2001
Part 2 - July to December, 2001
Part 3 - January to December 2002
Part 4 - January 2003
Part 5 - February to August, 2003
Part 6 - September, 2003 to Present
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