Salsa : Beyond the Roots - New York Times

Posted on about 9 years ago

I would like to send a thanks to Jan for sending me this link to this article. It talks specifically on the comparison of the salsa scenes portrayed in 'El Cantante' the movie compared to the salsa scenes of today. You can find the article here: Salsa Spins Beyond its Roots.

One of my favorite quotes from the article is when Ms. Torres states: that salsa "...remained a dance of the street, not taught but absorbed". This reminds me of how must of us learn salsa. While we take lots of salsa lessons here and there, we usually just learn by either asking or watching other dancers at the club. I would have to agree that most of the patterns I end up learning are from observation than anything else. I can look at someone doing a pattern, and decompose it into its 'fundamental' elements - and then add my own style to make it my own. It is not a special inherent ability, every dancer develops it in the long run.

Another anecdote that is mentioned in an interview with Mr. Eddie Torres, is why he decided to start teaching dancers to break 'on 2'.
Theres something in the rhythm section in a Latin dance called the tumbao, he said. Its a time pattern that the conga player plays, and youll hear an accent, and its always on the second beat. This is why Tito Puente said breaking on two is natural, theres a feeling in that beat that you gravitate to.

and specifically on how today's dancers are very different than the days before:
Young salsa dancers are becoming Olympians, athletes in the dance, so theyre not thinking of drinking and doing drugs, like we did years ago.

..which statement resonates with some of the things we say about how salsa was back in the old days. If you listen to the podcast, you hear us joke around about salsa artists/dancers being alcoholics, doing drugs and going to jail. Well, while it might seem harsh, it was just a known fact - that is the way things were in New York City in that era. Think of it as the current social relation that people have with 'Hip-Hop' and 'Gangsters', except that back then it was 'Salsa'.

While I will not continue to paraphrase the article, I do suggest that you read it because it is very well written with some very good points and interviews. I am just happy that salsa is getting more exposure, now with the new Hector Lavoe Movie (and here and here) and this article being in the New York Times - we are starting to take salsa one step further. (pun intended)

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