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Today's Salsa CD reviews

Albita – Dicen que :

In my opinion, there is no voice like Albita’s and no-one uses her voice like Albita does; basically for me it is enough to listen to her singing to feel my feet in contact with the earth and my spirit somewhere 3 meters off the ground. It follows that I like her CDs a lot and my judgement may be very much biased.

Albita never really made it in the salsa scene, except for a brief interlude after her appearance in the movie ‘Dance with me’, mostly because perceived (at times rightly so) as too commercial; this is the price to pay for an immense talent too early put in contact with the top ranks of big record companies, who decided from the start that she was Grammy material. She was nominated 4 times and eventually got one, ironically for her least interesting album.

All this is a pity because Albita, Cuban born and escaped/emigrated to the US, has been loyal to her Cuban spirit all along. Her music is made up of son, rumba, boleros, ballads, all deeply Cuban, at times performed in immaculate Cuban style, at times slightly stained by commercial touches, but always very Cuban at heart.

Her CDs usually contain only a few danceable tracks (unless you also like to dance boleros) but those few are always very well worthwhile. In this CD in particular “El Chico Chevere”, “Mirame, Rozame, Amame”, “El Son Del Tahurete”, “Dicen Que Tu Amor” are beautiful sons, some a bit fast, maybe not suitable for beginners dancers, but I have often used them for my own practises, while “Valga El Brillo De Tus Ojos”, a bit more commercial, can also be danced and enjoyed. “Hoy No Voy A Trabajar” and “Corazon Rumbero” clearly show the rumba influence, while “Hoy No Voy A Trabajar” and “Ay Mi Barrio “ are nice ballads and “Si Nos Llegamos A Amar” is a fantastic bolero. Worth a try, at least for her magnificent voice. 12-11-07

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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

Waldemar Guijarro - Salsa/Casino Cuban Salsa Dance Course Volume 1

Level: Beginner

Length: 77 min

Style: Cuban Casino

Content: 1) Pasillo Basillo en el Lugar - basic on the spot 2) Pasillo Cruzado -cross basic 3) Pasillo Hacia Delante y Haci Atras - basic forward and backward step 4) Pasillo Hacia Los Lado - basic side step 5) Pasillo Cruzado con Desplazamiente -basic cross step with displacement.

Music:Wake Up (Bilko Cuervo); Charangueando (Grupo Son); Contraste (Jorge Reyes); Al Compas de mi Son (Grupo Habano Son); Yo soy Cuba (Sexteto Tradicion); Con Tumba y con Trabajo (Jorge Reyes)


General Comment: This DVD was produced by The Latin Music and Travel Agency and resembles a tourism production with many scene changes both within Havana and at the beach showing all the typical elements you would expect from a holiday in the Caribbean. The dancers are Cuban ( 3 male and 3 female) and show 5 variations of the basic steps over 70 minutes, both with and without partner and with and without music. The music has been overlayed on top of the filming and unfortunately is not synchronised with the footwork which considering that this is a video for complete beginners is unfortunate. The 5 basic steps are repeated over and over again with different backdrops and then returned to for the many review sections. In fact there is so much repetition in the video that there is no need to ever look for your remote control to rewind! There are some nice touches such as the basic footwork filmed with the dancer stepping on a glass plate, shown from below so that you can see the feet silhouetted with a beat counter on top. Also they sometimes show a couple dancing and then at the side one of the dancers performing the same basics alone, so that no nuance or detail can be missed. The filming also zooms in separately on the feet, the hips and the arms so that again every detail can be savoured or is it just the sexy dancers we are looking at...?! This video would be good for someone who wants to get the basics without ever attending a salsa class. It would also be useful preparation for someone considering a trip to Cuba whether to have a holiday or to go on a group tour where dance tuition is provided.

Reviewed by Ally - Fair

General Comment: There is a lot of effort behind this DVD and a far bigger budget than most salsa schools can afford. Produced by a German company ( to promote dance travel to various locations, this DVD very much summarises what you can expect from a combined 'trip-plus-dance-class' tour to Cuba: you will see plenty of trademark tropical scenery, including beaches and Havana main highlights, and six good dancers demonstrating basic casino salsa movements, mostly in nice outdoor settings or typical Cuban buildings. The DVD has a remarkable set of features which makes it stand above standard salsa productions: it comes both in NTSC and PAL (on a single disk!), 3 languages (Spanish, English and German), 3 subtitles (Italian, French and German). All dance steps are shown from several angles, even from below the feet (!). There is an original 'son' soundtrack and even a music clip at the end. You will also find plenty of vocal explanations, several slow motion parts, visual details and close-up views. So far, so good. Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks as well. First in the 70 minutes of the DVD you will learn only 4 basic steps (on the spot, cross basic step, forward and back, and side step) and one variation (basic step with displacement). The time is filled up by several repetitions and by showing the dancers (very good by the way) demonstrating the basic steps over and over again. Despite the attention to visual and vocal details and endless demonstrations I am not sure that the video is that easy to follow if you have never danced salsa before. The breaking down of elements is not that precise, nor clear and (by far the biggest criticism) the music is not always synchronised with the dancers; they will appear switching between dancing on 1 to on 2 several times, and occasionally on 3 (not to mention when the music is completely off), which may be really problematic for a beginner. Having said that, if you have never danced before, you are curious about casino salsa and you are considering whether to go to Cuba or not, it can be a reasonable buy.

Reviewed by Fabio - OK

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Salsa articles

On2? Which On2? I am writing this post to all experienced salsa dancers out there, and in particular to all salsa instructors. I have a question which hopefully will spark an e-mail exchange from which I may understand a few things which are unclear to me. In order to put this into context, first a few 'facts'.

Fact 1 . Roughly speaking, most people dance salsa either On1, or On2 Modern Mambo (NY style) or On2 Classic Mambo (Puerto Rican style also similar to Cuban contratiempo). Today Modern Mambo is used more frequently than Classic Mambo at congresses and salsa classes around the world.. more...

The Salsa 10 Commandments: 1)You shall not dance out of time, 2) You shall not refuse a dance to a less advanced dancer , 3) You shall respect other dancers on the dance floor more...

Creativity, Style and Salsa: How can I be creative in my dancing? How does SuperMario come up with his incredible moves? Did Eddie Torres invent NY style? What is style? Who creates a style? What does it mean to be creative anyway?

There are no objective answers to the above questions. They all, one way or the other, depend on subjective views on the artistic expression we call salsa, on what we like, and on what we intend by salsa in the first place. But we can still say reasonable things about the matter and make the creative process clearer and possibly easier. What follows are some thoughts of mine, mostly borrowed from my maths background. I am sure all this must have been said already within the art or humanistic literature, and if you are aware of work in this area please let me know, so that I can learn more.

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