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Salsa & Mambo Video Reviews

 

Eric Freeman


"Hot Moves for the Salsa Addict" Video Series:

Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Style: Mostly NY/LA, some Cuban moves

Content: Over 60 moves in 2 tapes.

General Comment: Plenty of material to learn from. Many figures are presented at different level of complexity. The figures are divided into routines that demonstrate how they can be used on the floor. These are videos for social dancers, not for choreography or shows. There is little vocal explanation, only the minimum required. All figures are shown first with music from two angles, and then slowly with vocal counting. Both Eric and Laurel dance very well and they demonstrate the figures very clearly. You will be able to work out both foot work, lead and arm work easily. I believe this video is particular useful for salsa instructors who can extract material for several courses.

Reviewed by Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Recommended

General Comment Volume 1: A very comprehensive Salsa instructional video, which includes 42 moves and 9 routines. All the moves are demonstrated with music and with counting. In addition, verbal explanations are given when required. The video starts with relatively simple moves (e.g. cross body lead with inside turn for the lady) and progresses to much more sophisticated figures. All the moves are leadable and can be combines into smooth routines. I would strongly recommend "Salsa addict Volume 1" to both beginner and intermediate level dancers.

Reviewed by Thea - Recommended

General Comment Volume 2: Thirty-one truly Cuban figures executed by Cuban dancer under beautiful Cuban music. These figures are also performed as sequences, with lots of cool improvisations. You will be able to view how different dancers decorate their basic step and add fun to their performance. Some of the figures are quite complicate and challenging, however all of them are well explained with counting. If you are into Cuban Salsa, you will love this video.

Reviewed by Thea - Recommended


¡Salsa a la Cubana! Original Series

Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Style: Pure Cuban

Content: 3 Videos, one demonstration, 2 instructional. Plenty of material.

General Comment: This series is a MUST. Cuban salsa taught and demonstrated by top Cuban dancers from Santiago and Havana. The first volume contains only demonstrations. You will see several couples and several styles. If you are skilled and you know how to use the slow motion command in your player you will be able to extract plenty of cool figures from this demos. The other two volumes are mainly instructional, for beginners the first, an for intermediate to advanced the second. All figures are shown first with music from two angles, and then slowly with vocal counting.After watching and enjoying the videos for years I finally met most of the instructors in person.. Eric choose them very well! These series will be appreciated by both Cuban style dancer who want to improve, as well as NY/LA dancers who want to discover what Cuban salsa is about.. It is really authentic and a Must in your collection.

Reviewed by Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Recommended

General Comment: Volume 1. This video presents basic Cuban salsa step and basic dance combinations. Instructors from Santiago de Cuba demonstrate technique of leading and following and also explain how the dancers move around each other and around the dance floor when dancing Cuban style. However, some might find it a bit disappointing that these useful explanations are given only in Spanish. This video is great for those who want the get a real feel of Cuban style.

Reviewed by Thea - Recommended

General Comment: Volume 2. This video consists of two main parts: the first part demonstrates the ways of decorating and enriching your Cuban basic step with twists, shuffles and kicks for both men and women. Watching this part of the video you will see that the basic step can be much more then "basic". In the second part of the video, the Cuban instructors show and explain quite complicated figures and also put them together in a very nicely performed sequence. I would recommend this instructional video for intermediate and advanced dancers.

Reviewed by Thea - Good


¡Salsa a la Cubana! New Series

Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Style: Pure Cuban

Content: 3 Videos, demonstrational and instructional. Plenty of material.

General Comment: As the Original Series, this also includes 3 videos. Two videos contains several figures, going from intermediate difficulty to very advanced. The advanced figures involve complicated knots in typical Cuban style. All figures are shown first with music from two angles, and then slowly with vocal counting. The figures are presented by different couples, and you'll be able to enjoy several different personal styles. Some male dancers are really good, unfortunately the female dancers are not at their level. The third video is dedicated to salsa danced by more than 2 dancers (one guy with more ladies, two guys with one lady ect...), a nice novelty and a showcase of the immense creativity behind Cuban salsa. As usual with Eric, you get good value for your money.. Plenty of material to work on for months.

Reviewed by Fabio from SalsaIsGood Good

General Comment: This instructional video presents 31 advanced figures executed in Cuban style. The figures are demonstrated under quite slow Cuban son, which will allow you to pick up all the details and may be even practice while watching the instructors. The learning is also aided by vocal counting. Probably, not everyone will be able to do a full split shown by one of the instructors, but you will surely enjoy dancing these very Cuban figures. I would recommend this video for intermediate and advanced dancers.

Reviewed by Thea - Recommended


Cool Moves Revealed Volume II

Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Style: NY/LA. Occasionally a Cuban move.

Content: 60 moves in 60 minutes.

General Comment: This is a 'classic'. One of the very first videos produced for non-beginners. It still sells very well today. Many classic moves, plenty of material to learn from and to use in classes if you are a teacher. Both Eric and Edie has grown as dancers during the years, but this video is still worth buying and 'studying'.

Reviewed by Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Recommended

General Comment: Sixty (!) very cool salsa figures mostly in New York style demonstrated by Eric Freeman and Edie the "Salsa Freak". At the beginning of the video the instructors show how to dance on one, two, three, four and Mambo typical two, however thereafter the figures are danced on one. Eric and Edie show and explain how to execute and decorate very challenging and sometimes quite acrobatic moves. You will see how to properly do dips, multiple spins, checks, drops and combine them in one figure. Both intermediate and advanced dancers will greatly benefit from this video and enjoy viewing the "effortless dancing".

Reviewed by Thea - Recommended


"El Cubanito's Video Notebook" Video Series

Level: .Advanced

Style: NY/LA

Content: 2 routines each of them containing more than 10 moves. Both tapes/CDs are 11 minutes long.

General Comment: This videos are available both as tape and VCD. This was an experiment from Eric. He decided to 'compress' the material from 2 workshops into one video each. Eric and Ana teach the crucial parts of two routines, the basic turns and lead, and then dance the routine both 'on 1' and 'on 2'. The routines are very nice. I believe this was a very nice format for a video, once again most useful for teachers short of new material and ideas. Unfortunately Eric did not follow up on this

Reviewed by Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Recommended


Salsa from the Start

Level: Beginners

Style: On1

Content: Basic steps, timing, turn patterns, styling.

General Comment: If you have been dancing for a while and you are into salsa DVDs, chances are that you would have learned via some of Eric's early videos; whether via his 'Salsa a la Cubana' series or 'Hot Moves for the Salsa Addict' series, Eric trained a generation of salsa dancers into crazy Cuban moves or refined LA/NY cool moves. Then Eric became quiet for a while and there was reason to believe that he was up to something. Indeed he was, and this latest series is the outcome. 'Salsa from the Start' is the offspring of someone who took some time off to think and reconsider the entire process of teaching/learning salsa from zero to an intermediate level.

In principle anyone could do this, but not everyone would be able to do a good job of it and Eric has several credentials which makes him a perfect candidate for this salsa 'synthesis'. First, he has been dancing for a very long time, as long as any of the 'old generation' salsa stars still around. Second, he has danced and learned everywhere, dedicating himself to mastering all styles from the very beginning, that is back when the salsa world was still divided into LA, NY and Cuban niches, with little communication and exchange. Third, via his frequent, long and extensive travelling he has taught to crowds everywhere in the world and this has given him considerable experience in seeing what is common among the needs of dancers with different cultural backgrounds. Finally, Eric is an engineer, with an analytical mind, for which synthesis comes natural.

These features manifest themselves clearly in the way this series is organised. Together with the DVDs, Eric provides in downloadable form written instructions which he suggests you print and have handy when you watch the DVDs. These instructions help you understand and remember what you see. Each chapter of these instructions refers to a section in the DVDs, which you can choose via a well organised DVD menu. As he explains, some sections need to be watched only once, others will need your careful attention and several goes; the written instructions will help you handling this selection process well. Since my brain works similar to Eric's, I think this is 'the' way to learn something as structured and complex as salsa.

However, many salsa dancers may freak out at the thought of following written instructions and here is the good news: you do not actually 'need' them because the DVDs flow naturally; if you wish you can ignore all that and still learn everything simply by watching the DVDs as you would for all other instructional salsa DVDs.

This series is generous with time: the 3 DVDs sum to roughly 6 hours of material, covering basically all a student needs to face: timing, basic steps, body style, attitude, leading and following, basic turns, basic turn patterns. This is undoubtedly a lot and Eric is at his best in cleverly handling all the material. What is at the core of the success of these products? Firstly, he takes a lot of time in each section: he explains clearly, he demonstrates, he re-explains, he provides examples, he runs a few exercises in which you can follow the material just learned and he gives tips. Secondly, he does not compartmentalise the content: style hints appear at different points in the series as does focus on the footwork, so that you can progress smoothly through the different challenges while you learn some of each element. Thirdly, Eric's experience enables him to know where the difficulties are and where the common mistakes are likely to occur and he highlights them to you as soon as they may appear. Fourthly, this series has the feel of a relaxed workshop: it really feels like you are attending one of Eric's classes, with plenty of time available, a perfect environment to learn. Finally, Eric's aim is very clear: to train people to dance for fun, something I believe is very noble and often forgotten; there is no stress on needless details, but rather a focus on what will help you develop the skill you need to approach the dance floor confidently in search of enjoyment. Basically, Eric strives to make things look and feel simple, which is the utmost wisdom.

Coming to the technical details, this DVD is on1, focusing mostly on dancing on the line, what we would have called LA style a few years ago; the instructions for the leading and following are also designed mostly with this style in mind. If this is the style you wish to learn, I think this DVD series ranks surely as among the best and most complete.

In the DVD intro Eric says that the natural customers for this series include complete beginners or dancers who know how to dance already but have not gone through a formal salsa course. I would add two more groups: students who have learned already but may find it handy to have a salsa 'synthesis' at home to refer to occasionally, or who need time to digest the content from a live salsa class; and finally, salsa instructors, who may benefit from Eric's experience in filling up some gaps in their curriculum.. I believe Eric has really thought about everything (!) you may need for it. Last, but not least, I should include a note about Martha, Eric's dancing partner and demonstrator in the DVDs, who does a remarkable job at making everything look nice and spontaneous at the same time.

Reviewed by Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Recommended


Multi Style Salsa

Level: Beg-Adv

Style: All Styles

Content: Basic steps, basic elements, styling, leading and following.

General Comment: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do; when in Cuba, do as the Cubans do” says Edie the Salsa Freak in this DVD. Makes sense, but what do the Romans and the Cubans do? And how? You would not expect Edie to give a cryptic suggestion without a full explanation and indeed in this DVD Eric and Edie give you full details on how to behave and what to expect, salsa-wise, wherever you may go, anywhere the world. It is hard to imagine a couple better suited for the task, both being very experienced and well travelled (literally). From the dance floor experience of these travels they reconstruct for us an atlas for today’s salsa, which you can consult wherever you plan to travel, whether to LA, Colombia or the salsa club down the road where they dance that strange salsa style, the one you are not familiar with. The atlas is divided into four continents: NY style, LA style, Cuban Style and Cumbia Style, and within each continent some local variations are also mapped: a fully self-contained handbook on all you ever wanted to know about salsa styles. Salsa styles differ in terms of some typical turn patterns as well as timing, style and the relationship between the dancers. Eric and Edie are too wise to fall into the trap of teaching turn patterns so they go straight into what really counts: the difference in the lead, in the following, in the hand hold, in the direction of the dance, in the footwork, in the timing and in the music. Their teaching is not only technical, it also covers the human and social aspects of the dance: the local habits, the idiosyncrasies of the different styles and what you may need to expect if you enter a club were a particular style is danced. You must know a minimum of salsa to make the most of it, since the features of the various styles are covered with the expectation that you know basic steps, cross body leads and similar elements. Given that, I believe anyone can benefit from this DVD. For beginner dancers this DVD can be a Pandora's box of surprises, anticipating the variety of adventures awaiting your coming 1001 salsa nights. For intermediate dancers, it may clarify things perceived via word of mouth or via the occasional experience with a visiting salsa dancer. For the advanced dancers, this DVD will make you appreciate styles until now disregarded. This is probably the most important message of the DVD: every language has beautiful expressions.. don’t be limited by local salsa slang. Finally, for the well travelled who have danced everything and everywhere, this DVD can be a useful reminder of details once known and now forgotten, an excellent summary conveniently put together. Because of all these reasons, this is not a DVD to devour quickly, rather the equivalent of a reference book, something you keep in your bookshelf and you may want to refer to several times in the years to come. Keep in mind that this is part of Edie’s ‘best lead’ series and Eric exhibit superb skills not only at leading Edie impromptu into difficult passages but also in explaining clearly how he does it; knowing how to lead well and explaining how to do it are not the same thing and excelling at both is a rare gift. Surely having a world renowned follower helps and the hints from the lady's side are just as valuable. Why such a DVD? Because probably the one and only success story of globalisation is salsa and while until a few years ago you were compelled to learn the only style the local community could offer, today in most large cities you can choose and it may happen that you enter a club where your favourite style is off-limits and you don’t want to risk missing the fun. Today, speaking several salsa languages is a must and this DVD represents a handy phrase-book. A DVD like this was well overdue in the market. I have had the pleasure of leading Edie and being led by Eric (!) and I can confirm that it could have not be made by a better couple; it was worth the wait.

Reviewed by Fabio from SalsaIsGood - Recommended

 

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