As most salseros and salseras know salsa dancing or dancing is general is all about the music and the atmosphere. When one enters a salsa club the usual sound one may hear is the sound of people chatting in the background and the pulsating music of drum beats, trumpets, maracas, piano, and the famous clave.(Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam-Bam) In all genres of music there is a thing called "timing" and in salsa, it becomes a question of, "On one or on two?" So, what does that have to do with styling, as the theme of this topic is about styling? Well, the way one moves his or her shoulders, the way most ladies flair their arm movements in a delicate manner, and the way one spins to the music has a lot to do with timing, experience, and experimenting. Through my exposure of the salsa and other forms of dance I will explain how the role of timing, experience, and exposure has a lot to do with styling.
Timing) "Do you dance on 1 or on 2?" and if your a beginner you may be thinking, "Does it really matter?". For some it may be "yes" or "no" which has a lot to do with experience and preference. When I first started dancing on 2, I thought timing did not matter because by being a lady I just though you step forward instead of stepping back with the basic step. However, most salsa dancers I have spoken with told me that salsa on 2 has more of a pause and more time to play with the music and prep for a spin (my opinion- I believe it gives one more momentum). On that pause one speaks about may allow more room for styling such as body rolls, body movement, and footwork just a few to mention. In addition to allowing more time to style on the pause, some have mentioned that on 2 gives more room to play with the music. What do I mean by play with the music. Sometimes that has a lot to do with the accents of the music which is a strong syllable or musical note which emphasizes the pitch like a sudden and distinct loud trumpet in the music. This relates to styling ,if one can remember back to a childhood game of freeze tag, where one child becomes "it"-tagging people- and the other children are running around from that kid and if they are tagged then they "freeze". Some people like to "freeze" to the accent by hitting a pose and standing still for that pause like a manikin.. Those are just examples of styling. So going back to the point of timing some prefer to style or hit the accents on 1 and 5 which can rely a lot on the vocals or the tempo of the music. Same thing goes with on 2, but the emphasis is on 2 and 6. So where can you see the majority of the style on 1? The famous style known for on 1 salsa dancers is in Los Angeles, California. Example of on 1 music can be Sonorra Carruseles. For on 2 dancers the majority or on 2 dancers in in New York and an example of an on 2 music group can be New Swing Sextet. Overall, there are a variety of styles of music which can depend on the music and some of styles of dances become world wide different. Some example can be: Colombian, Cuban, French, Argentinian, and Indian.
Experience) Timing does not only come into play with styling, but one's background in dancing. A lot of dancers have years of dancing to little to no dance experience and some apply it to their salsa styling. Some genres of dancing can be hip-hop, tango, ballet, jazz, modern, lyrical, Broadway, ballroom, or cultural dances like ballet Folklorico. Some hip-hop dancers love to really pose on the accents or use signature hip-hop moves like one might have seen on dance videos on MTV. (and that is a maybe). For dancers who have years of background in jazz, modern, lyrical, and ballet have a good foundation for technique which means that his or her style is very controlled and have very "good lines" with the placement of arms, feet and torso. In addition, there foundation in those strong dances can help them adapt spins a lot easier which has a lot to due with balance. As for Broadway dancers, they can be almost as fun as hip-hop dancers which can help them really play with the music. My experience in dancing is a little bit of everything, however, I have never been consistent at it, but when I found a dance I absolutely felt passionate about that's when my styling had a lot to do with involving myself in group classes and being on several salsa teams. My style fluctuated from one style to another style which had a lot to do with preference of the team's style of on 1 or on 2. (yet again) However, now I want to be able to find my type of signature style which has a lot to do with years of experience and exposure. When going back to the topic of experience some beginners getting into salsa can say they have no experience which is o.k. Overall, if one is starting to get into salsa I recommend to not figure out or get frustrated with styling because that become an issue into the end (key advice to beginning ladies- I recommend little or no styling when dancing with a partner because when I first started I tried to hard to style and ended up injuring a lot of my partners). If you have been dancing for a while and trying to find your "salsa style" like I still am doing some advice friends/dancers have given me are:
Practice any body isolation in the mirror like body rolls, shoulder rolls, and hip rotation
This also goes with shines/footwork
Watch videos (youtube.com)
Take group classes/ join a team (depends on your budget)
Go out to the salsa clubs for exposure
Have a fantastic time on the dance floor feeling all sexy and smile because it makes your partner comfortable: )
Exposure) This brings me with the last topic of this article which I have been mentioning several times which has a lot to do with what I mentioned above on #7 under experience and that is "exposure". What that means is not only practicing what you do at a studio setting like group classes and teams, but trying to cut and paste it on to the dance floor. Sometimes just watching your favorite salseras/salseros gives you a glimpse of what style you like whether it is on 1, 2, or 3. Basically it is up to you, not your friends, your crush, or "yo mamma", but Y-O-U. Overall, dancing on the social dance floor should be an intrinsic motivation more than extrinsic motivation because while some want to show off others want to dance for themselves and they love of the "la musica".
So Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you got the concept/ meaning/ purpose of this article that styling is all about gathering a little bit of here, there, and everywhere. Think of it like food if you like it, eat more of it and if it really does not fit your taste, don't eat it or even try it. Just always remember that eclectic styling starts first with the few pounding beats of your racing heart.
My inspiration- Magna Gopal...
There is something to be said about social dancing. It is a different type of dancing compared to performing - (of course you'll say thats a given). But sometimes, some people forget that. In my case as a leader, its my job to 'entertain' and 'play' with the lady - as well as make her look good. However, what should I be expecting from the lady? Mainly to show me that she's having fun - that gives me the reward that all my hardwork (doing the combos, being smooth, keeping timing, footwork, smiling..etc) is paying off. However, for some dancers, I feel this simple concept is lost....
So, since we were doing a reloaded version of the salsa basic step with zoomed in angles, we decided to do the same with the other basic elements of salsa moves....
We have been asked to do the basic step once again (with zoomed in) camera angles - so we decided to do it, and make it a 'practice' with us video. So, I hope you enjoy the basic steps to salsa - reloaded....
Practice, Practice, Practice - at home and at the club!...