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Salsa sin fronteras: (salsa without borders).

When you Google "Salsa" on the Internet, websites relating to both food and dance pop up. Salsa describes the modern Latin music and dance styles as soulful, full-flavored, and spicy. It is a commercial blanket term that classifies the union of most Cuban rhythms (i.e. cha cha cha, mambo, guaguanco, son montuno) with jazz arrangements, giving the music mass popular appeal and a catchy title for fans to remember. Each Cuban rhythm within Salsa music has a corresponding dance, blending these dance steps together to structure modern Salsa. The roots of Salsa reside in Cuba. The development and popularization of Salsa owe Puerto Rican and Cuban musicians in New York a debt of gratitude. Salsa is a creolization of culture, sound, and expression and continues to invite new sources of inspiration to share the floor. It is an organic, evolving art form that .has no boundaries. Sophisticated, soulful, and sexy, Salsa has caught on all over the world and has many stylistic distinctions within its own genre. In addition to Salsa, the DJ or band may play other Latin rhythms such as Merengue, Cumbia, and Bachata. These Latin dances have their own origins and dance steps and are popular in the dance clubs as well. The Salsa dance community is warm and welcoming, and has grown tremendously in Asheville, thanks to the musicians, instructors, and dance fanatics who have made Asheville home.

Salsa is Movement. Salsa is very energetic. There are lots of spins and arm tricks. The most noteworthy characteristic of Salsa, however, is its sensuality. This is a side of life we always want more of, right? Learning to move our hips, torsos, and to loosen up in general does the body and mind a loving service. Losing inhibitions through movement and expression are lasting benefits. Learning the rules (steps, etiquette, partnering) requires discipline just like any other practice, but once the basics are understood, one can apply the moves right away. You don't have to be a professional to enjoy this dance immediately (ah--instant gratification). Clearing the dance floor when you showcase your skills does require additional training, however! Salsa is Connection. Leading and following are concepts we employ in our daily lives. As a leader, you become confident, learn control, and demonstrate trustworthiness. You have officially become a "chick magnet." When following, you must relax, be receptive, refine your reflexes, trust, and learn to let go a little more. You have surrendered to the moment and allowed someone else to guide you. There are infinite layers to both leading and following, and every dance you have will take you a little deeper. Herein lies the addiction--quite healthy in comparison to most! Not only are you connecting with your partner through body language, but you are also connecting to the music and to your own rhythm. For those of you who tend to process life kinetically, you will fined yourself closer to a powerful internal source through the communication of the dance. All this, finding romance, and burning calories too! Salsa is a Martial Art. Well, it's not really found under that category, but there are notable similarities; mind-body connection, quick reflexes, communication, focus, and patterns for moving around each other. There have been studies done on our grandparents that suggest dance fosters a healthy mind-body connection, keeping those synapses firing and the brain quite cognizant. Being aware of where we are in each moment and Free-tuning our focus can land us some pretty Zen moments. Now we just have to make sparring with our partner a little sexier! Salsa is an external expression of the joy from within. If you finish dancing. Salsa with someone who makes you feel inadequate, remember that it isn't you, but a reflection of the dancer's ego or need for order. Everyone has his/her own goals in dance. Some want to let go of stress, meet new people, exercise, or connect with the music. Others prefer to display their skills, compete, or be recognized. You can decide which group you relate to and fined companions in that group. Remember that each dancer interprets the music a little differently, responds to their partners differently, and expresses what resides inside them differently. Enjoy what is unique about each dance, and remember to smile! You can learn a lot about yourself through movement by pushing through your own boundaries. Dance is just another avenue of connection--like conversation or cocktails. So get off the couch and spice up your night. Everyone is welcome!

The Lowdown on Latin Dances


Steps/movement: Basic step (front to back), Rumba (side step), Cumbia (back step).


On 1 LA Style: Break forward or back on the 1 beat, the downbeat. Linear pattern; sharp, quick turns, flashy footwork, tricks and dips.

On 2 NY Style: Break forward or hack on the 2 beat, the offbeat, following the clave rhythm pattern. Linear pattern, close, quick partner connection, very stylized, many spins and arm tricks, jazz influences footwork.

Cuban Rueda de Casino Danced on 1, in a circle around each other, very sexy and animated. Rueda (wheel) is danced in a circle, rotating partners and doing turn combos in unison.


Steps/movement: Hips swing on last beat of measure. Side-to-side variation, front and back, rock step in place, clockwise and counterclockwise movement. Traditionally danced close has the feel of being on a gently rolling boat at sea. Very sensual and romantic, the slow-dancers' dance of choice in the clubs.


Steps/movement: Rock step-triple step alternating, back step. Break on the 2nd beat of the music.


Steps/movement: Cumbia, danced in America, is very similar to the Mexican-influence style called Guaracha. In Colombia it is danced closer and there are fewer turns. There is a tension and sway similar to Swing dance, and a circular movement around each other, like Cuban style. Lots of turns and footwork.


Steps/movement: Weighted steps, alternating feet. Clockwise, counterclockwise in place, side to side, turns in place, push and pull, very fast, lots of hip movement.


Steps/movement: Samba is counted in 2/4 time (2 beats to a bar of music). The important thing to remember is that the dance is done in triple time meaning, three steps are performed in two beats (or 4 fast beats). Lightning-fast footwork and sexy hip movement.

Maria Voisin has been dancing Salsa for over 11 years. For information on classes, check out Salseros 828 at or call 828-252-9286.
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Author:Voisin, Maria Guajira
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Feb 1, 2007
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