Salsa Mathematics – A New Way To Learn Salsa

Different people need to apply different strategies for the most effective learning. After all no one sees the world the same way you do.

When one starts out learning to dance there is a whole new vocabulary, a new language, to become proficient in.  And for some there also is a need to have things broken down in a way that typically isn’t done in a group class.  So, with the marriage of a mathematical mind with salsa a solution was born.  Stick figures and a new salsa language to help beginners.  Check it out at salsaisgood.com

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Timbalive in Syracuse May 5th

Could not get it together on the night of May 5th and Timbalive the band came on, and then I became:

Alive – Inspired – One With All
Joining the band and resonating on their timba frequency
Time Slowed Down and Heart/Soul Beat Clarified
Timbalive truly is like their jingle “Salsa Vitamina” – Medicine for the soul

I always say that the music must speak to you. Playing inspiring new music – live music well – encourages growth and creativity, nurtures the soul. A new standard for live Latin Music has been set in CNY area by Timbalive

A Teaching Tuesday or a Salsa Tuesday?

Every Tuesday I co-teach salsa/rueda classes at the Oasis dance club, in Ithaca, NY.  This week it went really well.  For the salsa class I started out with a new person who showed up. Nancy, my co-teacher, came later around the same time as a couple who usually show up late, and so she worked with them.  After that was the intermediate rueda class where people were kept on task and the class moved along at a good pace. As usual I called and we had fun just doing rueda.  I also got the class to take turns calling two moves each for a song or two. We reviewed part of the setenta family and made their execution a little cleaner: setenta, setenta cubano, setenta, con alma, and setenta por abajo.   This time I showed one guy, who was ahead of the rest, setenta moderno, and at the end of class Nancy worked with another who is obsessed with ponle sabor.

The Latin night that followed, however, was the polar opposite.  The typical Latin night with the same old tired music being played. This time it was saved by the people who showed up.  There were a couple people whom I hadn’t seen in months – one who remembered I taught her bachata – plus a new Architecture professor with her friend.  It was a friend’s birthday, and she really loved the dance that I did with her

So, was it a teaching or a salsa Tuesday, or a bit of both?  Well, let’s see.  The lessons were good, the socializing was great…the music par for the course, tasting like week old food. A teaching Tuesday, for sure.  Unless the music is inspirational it never is a salsa Tuesday.
 

Pa’lante – Dance as an Inclusive Community

It is human nature to want to build relationships, to belong, and it seems that partner dance is a natural vehicle for that since to dance one must ask someone else, and share a small space of time together while physically connected. Yet, not all is as simple as it seems.

There are many dance styles, and from my experience as a dancer of several years the sense of community often depends on three factors: personalities of people that participate, the dance style, and money. Often to fully participate in the dance community one must know something of the dance style and that can be a significant barrier. While in contra there is no such obstacle as people can jump into a simple called dance without knowing anything, on the other extreme there is Argentine Tango where the partners upper chests are in contact. Firstly, one must accept that the required upper chest contact is “non-sexual”, and subsequently eliminate all superfluous body motion to leave only the body signals that one wants to pass onto ones partner.

Then there is the looming omnipresent issue of the “green stuff”. Often dance studios/clubs create communities, but those who belong and learn are those who can afford the fees to participate. In addition there is the critical role played by the personalities of those who are part of the community. It is easy for people to form groups/cliques of shared background that an outsider may not have, so it is critical to have people who are open and welcoming to all. If people are not open to dancing with “strangers” or those not as technically skilled, how will communities form and grow?

When one can eliminate the barrier of knowing the dance, and fuse that with friendly welcoming people it creates a truly open dance community; a group that can achieve radical transformative action. One such community that has done that with salsa is Pa’lante.

“¡Pa’lante!,” is the short form for the Spanish “para adelante” and means moving forward. The Pa’lante community was started by Michael Ristorucci and friends who believed that the creative arts was the ideal vehicle for working on issues of social and environmental justice, creating a more holistic world in the process. As a recent member I have found that it truly is an open community that grows by being welcoming to everyone: those who do not know anything about dance, to those who are at performance level. Even the annual fee is not a barrier for those who cannot afford it as other arrangements are made! In practices people help those who need assistance, and often more technically advanced members will assist in classes. In addition to classes and workshops centered around dance Pa’lante has reached out to the local community. It has raised funds for low income families who cannot afford the fees to belong to a Community Shared Agriculture produce program, and also has promulgated the issue of fracture gas drilling in Central New York. A community that I am proud to be a member of, even though just newly part of it.

I’m sure that there are other great dance communities and if you know of any I would love it if you shared them with me.