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Today's Salsa CD reviews

Manolito y su Trabuco – Loco por mi Habana

When I used to teach, the first CDs from Manolito would provide good tracks for intermediate courses; because of their mostly slow pace and the absence of typically furious rhythms, his music is a good introduction to modern timba. Within the timba world Manolito represents a sort of exception; while most timba bands frequently change leader, singer and musicians, and consequently their sound and style, Manolito’s firm grip on the band’s arrangements has resulted in a stable smooth development, which you can recognise throughout all his CDs. Without abrupt changes of style, his music have simple got better year by year and this CD is one of my favourite.

The first 2 tracks, ‘Locos por Mi Habana’ and ‘Aqui Cada Una Viene Con lo Suyo’ are pure power, I find them simple irresistible. ‘Ella No Está en Na' is also a brilliant salsa, while ‘En Este Juego’, ‘Diez Años’, and ‘Donde Te Perdi’ have a slower pace and if I was still teaching they would probably be part in my teaching bag of tricks. The second part of the CD is quite different, ‘Amor Todo lo Puede ‘ is almost a ballad, while ‘No Te Pases’ is a mix of cumbia, salsa and pop (this is not the first time Manolito toys with cumbia). ‘Encontré la Forma’ is a gorgeous cha-cha-cha/bolero, excellent both for beginners and advanced cha-cha-cha lovers, while the closing track, ‘Cordoba’, is a danzon with a virtuoso touch.

Musicians will find some remarkable brass arrangements, while novelty is provided by the violins, bringing an old fashioned charanga style into timba. Life won’t be pointless without this CD, but it can surely be better with it. 25-7-07

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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

SalsaCrazy - Advanced Salsa Dance Mastery System Vol 1-6

Level: Advanced

Style: On1 (Vol 6 is On2)

General Comment: We like the SalsaCrazy approach to teaching and DVD production and this series has not disappointed us: it contains content (lots of it), detail, variety and quality.

A common dilemma when planning a DVD is how to balance the amount of detail vs volume of material, that is how much time to spend in explanation vs more content. SalsaCrazy has solved the problem radically: they include both content and detail, and in order to do so, not only filled 6 DVDs, but squeezed as much as possible into them, since they average between 1.5 and 2 hours in length. This together with some serious thought to the organisation of the product, results in a complete advanced course which you can take home and attend anytime you wish. There is more to it because all together the course is tough, by 10 instructors and with different styles and approaches to salsa dancing. So on top of straightforward salsa teaching you also get a glimpse of what this dance has to offer in terms of creativity and diversity.

To make the most of this DVD the instructors assume you are an intermediate level dancer, you are familiar with standard salsa moves, timing and basic spins. Everything else is provided in the series. Each DVD contains a number of turn patters, each first demonstrated, then explained from the leader and follower’s perspective, then both male and female instructors give tips on specific details of the turn patters and finally we get to the demonstration to music. In each DVD one instructor will also focus on specific techniques which are needed to develop an advanced dancer, covering spinning, posture, and body isolation exercises; some of which are repeated by different instructors which will demonstrate that there is no unique recipe to any salsa element.

Within this common structure, the DVDs change due to the presence of different instructors who bring their own flavour. Vol 1 and 2 present Evan with his confident, cool and experienced approach. We like his teaching a lot and his salsa is that of the consummate social dancer. He teaches with 3 proficient partners (Louise Garrison, Nadine Chan and Angeline Lucia) and their turn patterns are designed to condense in a few moves all the basic salsa elements: wisdom and experience was obviously behind the choice of these turn patterns and if you master them, you will have some 80% of salsa elements under control. Vol 3 and 4 are presented by Alison Hurwitz and Jesus Ortiz; their style is more formal, more technically oriented, with a touch of ball room in its approach. In Vol 5 Tianne and Ricardo present the ‘young’ side of salsa, with turn patterns of their creation and a less traditional approach. Finally, Vol 6 presents Sir ‘Seaon the Stylist’ and what a welcome surprise this is.. he brings his immense style, as well dancing on2, to this series.

With so much choice and variety it is inevitable that you will have your preferences and you may wonder why the entire series was not performed by your favourite instructors. We find Evan’s no-nonsense approach really refreshing and his teaching spot-on and for what regards Seaon… well, we will never tire ourselves of watching him; but you may very well have other favourites.

Reviewed by Fabio of SalsaIsGood - 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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