Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Salsa Concepts: Cross Body Lead

The Cross Body Lead (CBL) sets up the stage for dancers to move about and use their dancing space well. All the travelling concepts build on the CBL. The most important characteristic of the CBL is its linearity, which clearly helps the novice dancers distinguish between On1/On2 dancing as opposed the more circular movement of the Cuban style.

How to:
The execution for the CBL differs for men and women. The man will first turn away from the lady, and she will walk “across” and pivot later. This results in the lady passing briefly in front of the man, giving the Cross Body Lead its name.
In terms of execution the CBL is simpler for the women than it is for men. However given the frequency with which men get to practically use the CBL while dancing it somewhat makes it the most important figure for the men.

Attached image helps visually understand the footwork both for the men and women.

Women’s Footwork:
(1,2,3): regular back basic
5: lady steps forward with left foot
6: Lady steps forward with right foot
7: lady pivots 180 degrees over the left shoulder and ends with left foot next to the right.

Don’t be eager to jump forward for the CBL unless you are absolutely sure of the man’s lead
Counts 5 and 6 are two progressive short steps
Avoid pivoting until count 7 to keep your movements sharp and to avoid any confusion of direction

Men’s Footwork:
1: step with left towards the lady (regular step)
2: right foot shifts out to the side | pivot on the foot to come in perpendicular to the lady’s frame
3: left foot next to right | finish the pivot from count 2 and end up outside the lady’s frame completely perpendicular to her frame.
5: check step (right foot almost in place)
6: lift the left foot and move it pointing towards the left from the existing position
7: resolution (right foot finishes next to left)

While stepping out on count 2 ensure not to step too far out
Avoid going to far back on count 5. The closer it remain to the left leg, the better.
On count 6 the left leg trails the distance the partner has travelled (however, distance can always be controlled by the resistance between partners)

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