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Today's Salsa CD reviews

Orquestra Mulenze – Greatest Hits

The story of this band seems to come out of a Hollywood musical: in the 60s a young boy from Puerto Rico quits his rock band and decides to form a salsa band instead; Celia Cruz happens to visit Puerto Rico, listens to them playing and nicknames them Mulenze, in the name of a famous Cuban percussion; then comes success and the rest is history. As many of the bands who spanned the 70s and 80s, Orquesta Mulenza also went though a number of musical phases, first quite powerful, then romatic as the salsa Romatica era dictated. Some of the original power can still be perceived even in the more mellow songs, but the romantic feel is till clearly there.

This is not my kind of music but the tamed spirit of this salsa and the requirement of the arrangement never to overpower the melody and the voice means that the final outcome is fairly easy to listen to and probably suitable for beginner dancers.

Among their hits I like “Equivocata”, “No hay manera”, “A mi me huele”, “Mi engrita” and “No es porque” while I find “Anoche aprendi’, “Dile a ese” and “Antifaz” less catchy, but all tracks share a nice tempo: the speed is never frantic and you may find this music suitable for salsa practises. 12/5/08

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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

Darlin Garcia - Intermediate Salsa Vol 1

Level: Intermediate

Style: On 1 - On2

Content: Turn Patterns

General Comment: This is a very nice DVD, probably one of the best for intermediate salsa students. It is so for three main reasons. First, Darlin does very well what is most important: explaining and demonstrating. His teaching is accurate and focuses on the important elements without being boring on irrelevant details. He shows the dynamics of the turn patterns, the lead and the footwork both for guys and ladies, when it is needed. His partner Vera fills the gap here and there to cover the more 'feminine' elements. The material is cleverly chosen: 10 turn patterns of increasing difficulty will take you from an accomplished beginner level to what is needed to make the step to advanced. All turn patterns are demonstrated, and then broken down on1. If any passage deserves more care, this is provided in a dedicated session. The turn patterns are then danced both on1 and on2.

Second, Darlin's dancing has a nice feeling, precise as the dancing of aninstructor needs to be, but at the same time with that touch of musicality, of emotion which takes it past the technicality. Still, this is done without exaggeration, without showing off. The bonus clip with Darlin's social dancing is the best example and a good guide for students to see how it looks when someone dances in the music, and, importantly, is enjoying himself.

The third important component to the effectiveness of the DVD is the editing and the production. This may read as a superfluous observation: for most dancing DVDs you notice the editing only when it is badly done, when the sound jumps in volume, when you can't navigate the menus or when you hear a truck passing by the studio. Most of the time the editing is taken for granted, and rightly so. But this DVD stands out, because it has been produced with special care: the cameras show different angles during the breakdown of the turn patterns (with your remote control you can change from front full view, to side view from the top, to front close up) and synchronised multiple views on the same screen appear when attention needs to be focussed on both footwork and body work. Final touch: nice lighting and high resolution give an unusually pleasant picture for a dance DVD.

The material presented is taken from the 'standard' salsa repertoire: what you see in the clubs and you most likely want to learn. This is a good choice: unusual material is more suited for the advanced level, and I look forward to Darlin delivering that too.

Reviewed by Fabio - Recommended

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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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