Dance Genre Buzz – Salsa


Dance Genre Buzz – Salsa Dance

Salsa is a Latin dance form with origins from the Cuban Son (circa 1920s) and Afro-Cuban dance (specifically Afro-Cuban rumba).  It is generally associated with the salsa music style, although it may be danced under other types of Latin music.

Salsa is normally a partner dance, although there are forms such as a line dance form “Salsa suelta”, where the dancers dance individually and a round dance form “Rueda de Casino” where multiple couples exchange partners in a circle.  Salsa can be improvised or performed with a set routine.

Salsa is a popular social dance throughout Latin America as well as in North America, Europe, Australia, and some countries in Asia and the Middle East.

Origins Salsa dance movements originate from the Cuban Son dancing of the 1940s more specifically through the beat of Son Montuno with strong influences from the dance of Danzon, Mambo, Guaguanco and other Afro-Cuban folkloric dancing.

Today there are many various styles of salsa dancing because of geographical dispersion and cultural syncretism. The most well-known styles are Cali-style (from Colombia), Cuban-style (“Casino”), LA-style, New York-style, Puerto Rican-style.

Salsa is typically a partner dance, although there are recognized solo forms (Floor Shines/ Shines), line dancing (suelta), and Rueda de Casino, where groups of couples exchange partners in a circle.  Salsa can be improvised or performed with a set routine, choreography and freestyle.

View this video to see a sample of Freestyle Salsa dancing.

Styles Salsa’s roots are based on Afro-Cuban Rumba and Son dancing, and is open to improvisation and thus it is continuously evolving. New modern salsa styles are associated and named to the original geographic areas that developed them. There are often devotees of each of these styles outside of their home territory.

Characteristics that may identify a style include: timing, basic steps, foot patterns, body rolls and movements, turns and figures, attitude, dance influences and the way that partners hold each other. The point in a musical bar music where a slightly larger step is taken (the break step) and the direction the step moves can often be used to identify a style.

Incorporating other dance styling techniques into salsa dancing has become very common, for both men and women: shimmies, leg work, arm work, body movement, spins, body isolations, shoulder shimmies, rolls, even hand styling, acrobatics and lifts.

Latin American styles originate from Cuba and surrounding Caribbean islands and then expanding to Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the rest of the Hispanic countries; also heavily influence “Miami” style which is a fusion of Cuban style and North American version. The styles include “Casino”, Miami-Style, Cali-style and Venezuelan Style.

North American styles have different characteristics: Los Angeles style breaks on the first beat “On 1” while New York style breaks on the second beat “On 2”. Both have different origins and evolutionary path, as the New York Salsa is heavily influenced by Jazz instruments in its early growth stage.

Colombian / Cali style

Salsa (Cali Style) Cali-Style Salsa, also known as Colombian Salsa, is based on geographical location of the Colombian City of Cali.

Cali is also known as the “Capital de la Salsa” (World’s Salsa Capital); due to salsa music being the main genre in parties, nightclubs and festivals in the 21st century.  The elements of Cali-Style Salsa were strongly influenced by dances done to Colombian rhythms such as Cumbia and Boogaloo.

The basic step of Colombian Salsa is the “Atras” or “Diagonal”; breaking backwards diagonally instead of moving forwards and backwards as seen in the New York and L.A. Style. Dancers do not shift their body weight greatly as seen in other styles. Instead, dancers keep their upper body still, poised and relaxed while the feet execute endless intricacies. The dancer breaks mostly On1 (sometimes On3), with short measures of “4” instead of full “8” counts.

A major difference of Cali Style and the other styles is the footwork which has quick rapid steps and skipping motions. They do not execute Cross-body Leads or the “Dile Que No” as seen in LA/New York-style and Cuban-style salsa, respectively. Their footwork is intricate and precise, helping several Colombian Style dancers win major world championships. Cali hosts many annual salsa events such as the World Salsa Cali Festival and Encuentro de Melomanos y Coleccionistas.

Cuban “Casino” style

Salsa dance (Cuban Style) Cuban-style salsa, also known as Casino, is popular in many places around the world, including in Europe, Latin America, North America, and even in some countries in the Middle East. Dancing Casino is an expression of popular social culture; Latin Americans consider casino as part of social and cultural activities centering around their popular music. The origins of the name Casino are derived from the Spanish term for the dance halls where a lot of social Salsa dancing was done in Cuba during the mid-20th century and onward.

Historically, Casino traces its origin as a partner dance from Cuban Son dancing, and its rhythmic body motions from Afro-Cuban Rumba heritage. Son is considered an older version and ancestor to Salsa. Son is danced on delay measure upbeat (contra-tiempo) following the 2-3 clave (Son Clave) whereas Casino is usually danced on the downbeat break of 1 or 3 (a-tiempo). Musically, the beats 1, 3, 5 and 7 are considered downbeats; whereas 2, 4, 6 and 8 are considered upbeats. Casino was popularized in the late 1950s as the Cuban Son received upbeat and quicker arrangements by musicians. Casino has a very independent development, free from external influences such as Puerto Rican and North American dances partly due to the effect of the Cuban Embargo.

Miami-style Casino

Developed by Cuban migrants to Florida and centered around Miami, this form of Cuban Salsa fused with American culture and LA Style.

Major differences of Miami-style Casino is that it is exclusive dance to downbeat (On1) and has elements of shines and showstyle added to it following repertoires of North American Styles.  Miami-style has many adherents, particularly Cuban-Americans and other Latinos based in South Florida.

Rueda de Casino

Rueda de Casino In the 1950s Salsa Rueda or more accurately Rueda de Casino was developed in Havana, Cuba.  Pairs of dancers form a circle (“Rueda” in Spanish means “Wheel”), with dance moves called out by one person. Many of the moves involve rapidly swapping partners.  “Rueda de Cuba” is original type of Rueda, originating from Cuba. It is not as formal as Rueda de Miami and consists of about 30 calls. It was codified in the 1970s.

“Rueda de Miami” originated in the 1980s from Miami, is a formal style with many rules based on a mix, and is a hybridization of Rueda de Cuba & Los Angeles-style Salsa and dance routines that reflect American culture (e.g. Coca-cola, Dedo, Adios) which is not found in the traditional Cuban-style Rueda.

Los Angeles style

Salsa (LA Style) L.A. style is danced on 1, in a slot, with a measure of easiness and adaptability to it. It is strongly influenced by the Mambo, Swing, Argentine Tango and Latin Ballroom dancing styles.

L.A. style places strong emphasis on sensuousness, theatricality, aerobics and musicality.

The lifts, stunts and aerial works of today’s salsa shows are derived mostly from L.A. Style forms with origins in Latin Ballroom and Ballet lifts.

The two essential elements of this dance are the forward–backward basic as described above and the cross-body lead. In this pattern, the leader steps forward on 1, steps to the right on 2-3 while turning 90 degrees counter-clockwise (facing to the left), leaving the slot open. The follower then steps straight forward on 5-6 and turns on 7-8, while the leader makes another 90 degrees counter-clockwise and slightly forward, coming back into the slot. After these 8 counts, the leader and follower have exchanged their positions.

Albert Torres, Laura Canellias and Joe Cassini are credited for the early development and growth of L.A. Style Salsa[citation needed]. Later, such dancers as Alex Da Silva, Edie Lewis, Joby Martinez, Josie Neglia, Liz Rojas, Johnny and Francisco Vazquez, and Janette Valenzuela are often credited with developing the L.A. style of Salsa Dancing as we know it today.

New York style

Salsa (New York Style) Like LA-style salsa, New York style is danced in a line. However, unlike LA style, it is danced on the second beat of the music (“on 2”), and the follower steps forward on the first measure of the music, not the leader.

Though he did not create New York style salsa, Eddie Torres is credited with popularizing it, and for having the follower step forward on the first beat.  New York style salsa emphasizes harmony with the percussive instruments in salsa music, such as the congas, timbales, and clave, since many or all of those instruments often mark the second beat in the music.

Salsa Dancing Locations Salsa dances are commonly held in night clubs, ballrooms, restaurants, and outside, especially if part of an outdoor festival. Salsa dancing is an international dance that can be found in most metropolitan cities in the world.

Festivals are held annually, often called a Salsa Congress, in various host cities aimed to attract variety of salsa dancers from other cities and countries. The events bring dancers together to share their passion for the dance, build community, and to share moves and tips with each other. These events usually include salsa dance performers, live salsa music, workshops, open dancing, and contests.

Salsa Dance Short Film

Enjoy an artistic videodance featuring the Salsa dance style.

View more Dance Films on Video Dance TV

Genre Buzz: Dance Parade’s Dance Education Series

Genre Buzz Source: Excerpts from Wikipedia

More about Dance Genre Buzz:

Each month, a new dance style is celebrated. View videos and learn about the heritage and history of different dance styles. Discover innovators of the dance, trends, variations, and current events for each dance genre featured. Watch artistic videodances featuring dance styles, and learn more about Dance made for the Camera.

Participate in Dance Genre Buzz:

Help Dance Parade New York and Video Dance TV support the dance community. Share information on each dance style we feature, including dance classes, events, competitions, and other productions, such as film and video productions. Teachers, participants, and enthusiasts are welcome to share their network and experience with our audience to support dance education, online and on the dance floor!

By, Dawn Paap

Attend Dance Parade’s Social 

January 27th at Dance Manhattan

Join us as Dance Parade celebrates Dance Manhattan as a Float Sponsor in the Sixth Annual Parade!  All are welcomed! Current Dance Manhattan students, feel free to bring your friends, family and colleagues along!

Come meet the organizers of Dance Parade and get to know Dance Manhattan with a FREE introductory dance class @ 8pm, a FREE party starting @ 9:00, and FREE performance showcase @ 10:30.  Followed by a FREE Dance party till 12:30am!

Salsa Party Hosted with Rodney Lopez – Friday January 20th, 2012

Join one of New York City’s long running Salsa Social at Dance Manhattan.  New and experienced dancers alike have enjoyed Dance Manhattan’s monthly Salsa events hosted by Rodney Lopez for more than 10 years.  So come dance On1 or On2 on Dance Manhattan’s large & beautiful dance floor.   Express physically the music you have come to love and make new salsa friends!

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