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Mon November 27, 2006
Salsa

Third Place in Salsa Competition

There is a quote by Woody Allen that rings more and more true to me:

Eighty percent of success is showing up

Last friday me and my girlfriend Janne were able to win third price at a Salsa competition at La Isla here in Stockholm. Thanks to the encouragement of Pilar and Ociel at Stockholm Salsa dance we decided to give the competition a try and it was great fun! My friends Håkan and Mimmis won the silver, and a very professional and choreographed couple from Uppsala took home the gold. We were very pleased to walk home with the trophies and 1000 SEK though...

There is a huge difference between social dancing and show dancing, and as my friend Håkan said, if you want to be a successful show dancer you need to learn to dance outwards (with the audience) rather than inwards (with yourself and your partner and the music).

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Sun October 31, 2004
Salsa

Tracing the origins of a dance

SalsaNewYork.com has an excellent collection of articles on salsa and its origins. In the text Who owns Salsa, nationality, ethnicity and clave Norman Urquía concludes:

So a simple question like "where's salsa from" leads us to questions like "what is nationality", "what is ethnicity" and "what is identity" and the idea of a music moving around the world and forming a joint pop culture. Its not a simple subject, you could do a PhD on it (as I am) and still not find a definitive answer. So now, when people ask me "where's salsa from", I say "If you've got a couple of weeks, I can start to explain, but wouldn't you rather dance instead?"

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Thu April 01, 2004
Salsa

The History and Rhythm of Salsa

This article by Chris Washburne is the best description that I have found so far of the origins of salsa and it also contains an alysis of the clave rhythms and how they relate to african rhythms. The article was linked off of Steve Shaws excellent SalsaNewYork.com site.

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Wed March 31, 2004
Salsa

Overcoming Some Fears Of Social Dancing

I found a good article by Steve Shaw at the info packad SalsaNewYork website and I particularly liked this passage:

Regarding the worry that some of these very good dancers are watching you and are judging and critical, I have bad news and I have good news: 1) The bad news is that unless you're a really super dancer, they're not watching you. You're being ignored. 2) The good news is that unless you're a really super dancer, they're not watching you. You're being ignored. 3) And if you are a superdancer, and they're watching you with a frown on their faces, it's probably because they envy you, and also they're hard at work trying to steal your material.

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Sun February 29, 2004
Salsa

The origins of salsa

I was reading Amazon reviews of a Spanish Harlem Orchestra CD when I found a comment that helped clarify the much disputed and confusing origins of salsa music and dancing:

Salsa music includes all Cuban rythms such as Son, Cha Cha Cha, Mambo, Timba, Songo, Guaguanco, Rumba, Guajira and so on. All those rythms were born in Cuba and not in New York. The word Salsa was originated in New York to better market all these rythms. Please, make your own research and I suggest you start with the following movie: "Del Son a la Salsa". This movie features all time Puerto Rican greats Gilberto Santa Rosa, Marc Anthony, Cheo Feliciano, Tito Puentes, Venezuela great Oscar D' Leon, Panama master Ruben Blades and many Cuban great musicians from inside the island and from outside. All of them confirmed that Cuba is the motherland of Salsa.

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Wed February 25, 2004
Salsa

Learning Salsa

I found an interesting interview with Johnny Vazquez - one of the world's best salsa dancers who I had the honor of taking a workshop with at the salsa congress last weekend in Zurich. Here is what he says about how he learned salsa:

"I learned how to dance salsa really fast because three months after I arrived in LA, I was in a nightclub with my brother Louis, and this girl came and she told my brother, "Is that your little brother?" "Yes he is." "Oh, I'm gonna dance with him, he must be as good as you." I didn't know how to dance then, only the basics, back and forward. I said, "No I don't know how to dance." "No, no come on." She took me to the dance floor. I told her a thousand times, "I don't know how to dance. " "No, you are one of the Vazquez brothers, how can you say that?" We started dancing. After two minutes she left me on the dance floor. And she stopped and she told me, "That's all you can do, the basics?" "I told you I don't know how to dance." She told me, "Oh, so when you do learn more, then ask me to dance." And she left me. You don't know how much it hurt me. That night I was crying in my bed. Because everybody was looking at me when she left me on the floor. And being a brother of somebody who was really popular in LA, my brother Louis, it was so embarrassing for me because I didn't know how to dance. So that night I said to myself, I'm going to learn how to dance. Believe me. One year later I did the competition and when I won, she came, the same girl came to me. "Oh, I can't believe it, Johnny!" And she hugged me. "Oh, I can't believe it, when you are done with all your friends, will you ask me to dance?" And I looked at her and I said, "When you learn how to dance better, you can ask me to dance" and I turned around and I left. Now I cannot thank that girl enough because she gave me the impulse to learn."

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Fri January 02, 2004
Salsa

An American's Guide to Salsa Dancing in Europe

The american salsa instructor Eric 'El Cubanito' Freeman traveled a couple of the major cities in Europe and wrote up two salsa guides, one from the year 2000, and another from 2001. I found the guides to be both informative and amusing.

Supposedly, the best female dancers are in Stockholm, in terms of quantity London leads, and the swiss are the most analytical about their salsa...

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