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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

Lee Hunter - Improvers Guide to Salsa

Level: Intermediate

Style: On 1

Content: Turn Patterns.

General Comment: This DVD set tries to address a problem that most salsa dancers out of a beginner or early intermediate course face: that mental freeze which results in the brain not being able to suggest what to do while dancing. The result is endless repetition of a couple of routines or, much worse, endless basic steps with the guy staring blankly at the ceiling waiting for divine help. The problem comes with a female version: the absolute expectation that a certain turn pattern must be finished as it was learned in the class, defying any possible lead or creativity from the guy. Lee Hunter presents two simple recipes to address both versions of the problem. He helps the guys by classifying turn patterns according to the initial hand hold. He helps the ladies (and implicitly the guys too) by offering alternative options to finish similar turn patterns. These are two simple recipes, something that many dancers worked out by themselves during their salsa evolution, but that has rarely been laid out in a DVD; this is what makes this DVD series really useful for early intermediate dancers.

There is more; classifying turn patterns according to hand hold position and offering alternatives may easily lead to the temptation to be exhaustive and generate a way to reproduce everything which is salsa-danceable; a few have fallen into that temptation in the past. Lee stays out of this and keeps things simple. He does not offer everything, but what he offers is manageable, something that for a salsa students is crucial.

In fact everything from his DVD is simple: the moves, the organisation, the dancing and the instructions. You get the feeling that you really have no excuse not to learn what Lee offers and no excuse for not dancing your next salsa song without repeating a single turn patterns.

This DVD is suited for someone who has a grasp of the basic salsa elements (basic steps, cross body lead, simple turns) and covers most of what you need to become a reasonable intermediate level social dancer. Instruction is given on1, at a slow pace and with no frills: minimum ladies styling and no men's styling.. suitable for relaxed social dancing. If this is what you aspire to, this DVD is recommended.

Reviewed by Fabio - Good

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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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