Friday, February 14, 2014

Salsa Concepts: Simple Spot Turn (Right)


The simple spot turn is your induction to the world of turns and spins and forms the very basis of executing any turn pattern, be it the dizzying multiple turns or the traveling cross body turns.

How to:

--Execution of the turn is exactly the same for both men and women, just the counts differ, thankfully so that you don’t bump into each other.
-- For the spot turn – right; women (W) turn on the second half of the bar (5,6,7) & men (M) turn on the first half (1,2,3)
-- Step with the left leg forward (on 1 for M / 5 for W). Weight on left.
-- Pivot with both feet 180 degrees (on 2 for M / 6 for W). Weight on right.
-- Thrust left leg and pivot another 180 degrees on right leg to finish (on 3 for M / 7 for W).
-- Follow through back basic (5,6,7 for M / 1,2,3 for W)


-- Keep your back and chin up straight
-- Keep your legs close together to streamline centre of gravity under the torso
-- Do not lift the traveling foot (left leg) off the ground, risk getting wobbly
-- Spot / focus on something at your eye level
-- When practicing by yourself use your arms and shoulders to help generate momentum, but ensure you don’t over rotate/soften stance while turning. 
-- Salsa dancing does not offer any recovery time, you have to immediately follow up your turn with the back basic.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Curse of the No Dancer's Land!

It was the evening of a day. I walked into the club. With Salsa at my toes. And Latin rhythms throbbing the walls of the club.
Scanning the many dancers on the floor, bifurcation comes easy.
The one consciously looking at his left leg move front & right leg move back, more than he eyes his partner, *may* be the Beginner.
The one bothering more about the Hand Flick & the Hair Brush, and less about the Cross Body Turn *could* be the Veteran.

Apart from confidence & style, what stands the dancer out in the crowd is Musicality. When does La Palomilla switch tempo & pace up? When does Vehicle break for a Big 1? This swift Salsa mover knows that, and it's out there for the floor to see & tap!

A slightly more than thin line falls between the Beginner & the Veteran -  between the one who thinks every time he steps & the one who has the music doing the thinking - the large barrage of dancers who are neither Beginners nor Veterans! Generally, the string of basic concept classes, followed by the simple, commonly taught combinations globally, are enough for a dancer to take the step above & beyond the Beginner level. This is the bracket that everyone wants to move out of with utmost urgency! And expectedly so. Back in school, everyone would choose to rather be in the next grade than in the previous one.

But why does it happen that *most* dancers, once they leave the Beginner bracket, stagnate, and take so long to become Veteran dancers? From the phase of conscious moving & toe tripping steppers to those filled with style & pomp; the ones that make the Beginners want to not be Beginners!

One of the biggest reasons for this is the comfort one finds in the few combinations that have been mastered. Sometimes, looking at the neither here-nor there dancers is resemblant of a cassette that's stuck on a particular song - after all, it's creativity & novelty that keeps one going to the next level. The lack of it makes it all too standard. Coming second would be the not-so-much interest in tapping the art of playing with music. It's one thing to not dance on the count. It's another thing to use music only to get through the dance. But it's altogether a different thing when one uses music to enhance his dancing - and a Veteran dancer knows this knack.

How would one want to be a Salsa dancer but still know only those many combinations? Why would one want to be a Salsa dancer but not dance to the music that comes with? Rather dance to create & use the music to marvel! It's only when you embrace both that Salsa triggers you more; all for a good cause.

The art of stagnation, it's a practice one's got to practice against.
Salsa's always going to be saucy. Music's always going to be musical. Now for the dancer to decide - to be a Beginner or a Veteran. Or to be somewhere in No Dancer's Land!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mumbai's 1st Latin Dance Theatre

Acting & Dancing -- Dance Theatre

Even if you sit on a chair telling a story you are dancing... No big leaps and kicks, but the minimalist kind of dance. The glances, the breathing, hands gesturing, toes twitching. Using the body as a medium to express, the whole body, the whole being of the storyteller is involved in the story.

We always communicate with our body as well as speech even in everyday life, and our body can sometimes betray us or contradict our words.

In storytelling we try to control this movement, to support our story. It can be as simple a thing as trying not to twitch nervously even if we are terrified sometimes with stage fright. However in a dance theatre we amplify our actions to convey every emotion and every bit of the story only through dance, no words. Dance speaks a language of its own, where movement mirrors the fierceness of words.

Baile -de- Salón through its dance theatre production offers a positive environment where every student is made aware of their individual capabilities, enabling them to strive for excellence to the very best of their abilities. We, in turn, will challenge and always strive to make a positive contribution to the lives of our students. We will achieve this by giving students the individualized guidance and attention to which they are entitled; while instilling the value of the culture and music through hard work, discipline, and artistry.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The little dove invites you to dance…

You may take a hundred lessons, practice your spins and stalk the mirror with those fancy shines, but real Salsa needs Soul…nothing is perfect or will ever be, but it won’t matter if you feel it. Sound. Music. Dance. Expression. Passion. Salsa…that’s my word association for you.

Appreciating Salsa music requires an acquired taste, unfortunately the language eludes me (have to, have to, have to learn Spanish)

Not many hoarders** understand that music is the soul of dance. For your dance to look great you need to know the music…let every dance be different…listen to every instrument, every syncopation, and every change the melody brings.

Most dancers are just using the percussion to keep their timing in check, hammering combination after combination. Ditto with the Salsa Sluts*** who are just looking for the big beats to hit their 1,3,5,7s.

The one song that changed my “ear” is La Palomilla (primarily what the title says). It’s an amazing soft and soulful (not to be mistaken as slow) Salsa track with amazing vocals by Joe Cuba. The first minute is relatively medium paced and soft with great backing chorus, then the tempo takes off. The mélange of rhythm that hits you from 1:33 till 2:03 is just brilliant. You have to SHINE here, no way out. The song picks up again and gradually starts slowing down in the last 15 seconds.

For me La Palomilla sums up what a smooth Salsa track should be, varying tempo, a solid 30 second instrumental jam session and great vocals. Want to check how good your Salsa is, then give the dove a chance.

Hoarders** people who want to do new partner work every single class, without making the effort to remember / apply previous tutorials.

Salsa Sluts*** absolute Salsa-holics who will Salsa to anything and everything from Country music to Trance

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Observations on the Dance Floor: Part II -- Playing “Catch me if you can” with Counts !

The most basic requirement to dance Salsa or any other dance style for that matter is to understand / appreciate the music and its rhythm.

Not understanding music is like speaking a language without understanding its grammar & not understanding the rhythm is like bad grammar coupled with a bad accent!

Note: these observations are specific only to the Mumbai salsa scene (may also be applicable to the Delhi & Bangalore salsa scene), with the assumption that 99.97% of Mumbai’s Salseros dance ON1, 0.03% dance the Cuban Salsa and ON2 is as common as caviar.

Drop in at any Salsa social in Mumbai and it’s easy to spot 3 different musical errors.

1. Dancers Can’t keep up to the Count: The beginners usually would agree with this, where keeping up to the music seems like a challenge. It could be either because the men may not be able to offer timely leads or the lady could be slower on her execution, worst still – both have issues. They do seem to be on count sometimes but that’s because the music catches up with them.

2. Count can’t keep up to the Dancers: The thrill for some is in dancing real fast, trying out fancy combinations. The adrenaline rush gets them dancing faster than what the song proposes. Quite a few advanced dancers are guilty of this crime, but they do manage to get back on track as soon as the fancywork ends…umm if you ever catch me off-count, this is why :)

3. Me against the Music: These dancers are primarily the ones who do not understand the difference between counts ONE and FIVE. I have seen many newbies + veterans, instructors and xplosive dancers dancing on FIVE! constantly!! This is the most common of mistimed sights on the floor. I guess they only pay attention to the tumbao rhythm and get confused between counts.

Dancing off count is no excuse whether you’re a newbie or Salsa pro, the worst part is most people don’t care, they just want to be seen on the floor. Some instructors are to be blamed as well- you don’t need to spend hours explaining musical instruments and their rhythms but before people start off they need to have a basic sense of understanding of musicality. Dance forever will remain indebted to music from where it evolves and both dance and music are representatives of a culture, if you can't respect one you can respect none.