Ah Springtime, and while the Sunshine seems to be quite fashionably late, now’s a great time to celebrate the season with something new! Whether it’s trying out a new class, checking out a new social or listening to some new tracks; there’s plenty ways to freshen it up!
You’d be surprised at how taking a different type of class can help your dancing! Taking both Tango and Hip Hop really amped up my dancing by helping improve my frame as well as musicality. If you’re looking to get back into shape, there’s no better way to have fun doing than Zumba & Pilates classes. Not only are they crazy fun, but they’ll amp up your shines and stepping ability.
For those of you who have only been comfortable with going to one of the socials, perhaps it’s time to check out some of the various socials TDS and Toronto offer. While Sunday socials are great for beginners, Wednesday Bachata night has grown into an amazing party where some of the dancers bring sweets & treats for everyone to enjoy! Our Friday outings at Uptown loft are always a blast in which many of the great dancers from all the schools in Toronto come out to enjoy the TDS social vibe. And last, but not least, check out our Saturday Bachata parties! Featuring lots of surprises, and usually hosted by the mighty Lucky; you’re guaranteed a great night of sassy Bachata time.
There are literally a ton of ways to find new Salsa hits and old favourites. A few of my fav ways is to go to youtube.com and type in ‘salsa playlist’ or ‘salsa 2013′ or ‘marc anthony playlist’ and you’ll hear a ton of great music. Another great site is songza.com, in which you get playlists based on mood. You can easily type in salsa and get many playlists filled with great songs. You’d be surprised at how a new song or two can brighten your spirits and pump you up for going out for another round of dancing.
Whether its great new songs, a new class or a great night of dancing; you’ll be shaking off Winter and heating things up for what’s sure to be a great Summer. Till then,
Stay Shining Salseros!
A marking of a true Salsero, is one who uses every dance to improve. Whether it’s your basic, a new shine or styling; use your time to increase your skill. Not only will you find much satisfaction from seeing your skill improve quickly, but you’ll feel great from maximizing your time.
-Pick one aspect to your dancing that you’d like to work on, and try to be conscious of it during a pre-determined amount of time (1 song/30 mins/1 hour/1 outing). During that time period, be sure to add that move/shine/style as much as you can without worrying your dance partner.
-For example; if you’re working on your Suzie-Q shines, be sure to practice it in every song for an hour. Once the hour passes, try to practice your hair combs.
Looking for something to work on? Try searching YouTube for Shine, Style and Technique videos and then get to work!
Stay Shining Salseros!
No matter what aspect to your life, at some point someone you don’t care for will appear. Whether it’s that hardcore guy from accounting, the creepy lady at the gym or most importantly, the dancer who makes your skin crawl; learning from your enemies will help you grow. While it may not be readily apparent, there’s always something to learn from them and by bettering yourself, you’re in a sense, getting sweet revenge.
Sure, the jerk on the dance floor is all over the map, crashing into people and always seems to choose to groove near you. Perhaps there’s something that you don’t readily see that you can learn from? Maybe it’s the way they make their partners feel the music, or always seem to have them laughing or does some really sweet isolations?
Recently, I had someone I occasionally work with disrupt my work-flow by being overly aggressive and rude to me. While it definitely hurt to deal with, I found myself avoiding this person at all costs, which exacerbated things.
To make a long story short, I decided that instead of avoiding and stoking the aggressive nature of this relationship, I decided to be positive and observant of them, to discover any gems of knowledge that I could, in turn, use to bettering myself.
Being a very accomplished artist, it was easy to not only pick up on great practices from them, but to work directly with them on how to improve my own techniques. I’ve found that since I’ve taken this stance that our relationship has been excellent and I’ve felt happy to have let go of the ‘hate’ and truly value the education that I’m receiving.
Back to that annoying dancer, have you thought of anything that you can learn from them? If you’re stuck and truly think that this person is still pretty much a nuisance look at it this way, this person may be just far less experienced than you and is just trying to get by. Perhaps instead of sending aggression their way, try to help help them? You never know as you may find you and your previous enemy helping better each other… or at least you won’t feel as annoyed when they step on your toes.
Stay Shining Salseros!
As I get more experienced, it’s becoming much easier to detect how good someone is based on their salsa basic. For those who are new to the dance, the Salsa basic is term used to describe your standard 6-step back-and-forth stepping pattern. By learning how to step as well as adding a bit of flair; you too can take your basic from beginner to salsero.
How To Step:
Stepping as a walker is simple, we do it all the time. Stepping as a dancer, is much trickier. What’s the difference? Stepping to walk, is usually a flat-footed affair. While it makes walking quite easy, it looks ‘clunky’ when you dance this way. What you want to learn is how to step like a dancer… or what I call, the ‘tiger step’.
What I mean by this is that you should aim to land the ball of your foot first, and then roll out to the rest of the foot to complete the step. I call this the ‘tiger step’ because it makes you look like you’re perfectly balanced and ready to pounce; much like a stealthy, wild Tiger.
When I first tried to learn the ‘Tiger Step’, I had a lot of trouble because I didn’t have the proper ankle/arch/calf strength. What I did to correct this (and still do to this day), is to do ‘calf raises whenever I can. Here’s a good video to get you started:
Stepping More Naturally:
Once you have the Tiger Step down, do your basic in front of a mirror. Do you see how you’re stepping? Usually you step forward and then return your foot to the center, parallel to your other foot. While this technique is good for learning, you really want to always keep your feet slightly not-parallel. When I mean is that when you return your foot on count 3, try to keep that slightly behind your other foot. What this does is help smooth out your basic movement. It also makes moving through more difficult moves later on.
A natural tendency for most new dancers is also to bounce while they step. While it’s very natural to bounce while you walk, it’s not a slick to bob while you’re dancing Salsa. I remember seeing an old movie where they teach young ladies to walk ‘with grace’ by balancing a book on their heads. While I didn’t try this, I always picture that a book is balancing while I dance.
TightRope Tiger Step:
Now that you have your steps staggered and that you’re stepping like a jungle cat, it’s time to add the tightrope. What I mean by this is that when you step, think that each step you take is on a tight rope. Picture the ball of your foot stepping forward, so that both your feet are on a slender tightrope. When you step back, bring your foot back slightly behind the other, still on the same tight rope.
This will give your basic a really sauve feel, making you look more balanced as well as feeling like a tiger.
Here’s a great video from Addicted2salsa about how to take your basic to the next level:
Here’s to Stepping like a tiger.
Stay Shining Salsero!
One of the best benefits of Salsa dancing is that it’s a really great form of cardio. Whether it’s seeing men and women sweating the night away or noticing that one dancer who’s looking a little more cut; everyone can agree that it’s great exercise. What I didn’t really realize is how important it was to my fitness life until I started wearing a Nike Fuelband.
A Nike What?
The FuelBand is a apple-looking wristband that acts like a space-aged pedometer that counts calories burned, steps taken and shows you the Nike Fuel Points earned. Using accelerometers and fancy tech, the FuelBand keeps track of your fitness, can sync up to your mobile devices and even has a social network so you can show up your friends.
While it’s not a perfect device to track all aspects of your fitness (the FuelBand isn’t water-proof enough for swimming), it does one thing extremely well: It gets you to get off your butt and go get fit.
In my case, it’s helping me get up and go dance. This is awesome.
I’m not sure how your New Year’s Resolutions are doing, but with the Nike FuelBand you actually go in and program how many Fuel Points that you want to burn each day. A score of 2000 equals a normal restful day while 3000+ means a pretty solid active day. The nifty band shows you (via coloured dots) just how far down the rabbit hole that you’ve gone.
While somedays it can be really hard to reach that goal, I’ve been seeing in my charts that dancing has dramatically improved my score! It’s amping up my points so much that it’s getting harder and harder to not go out dancing, I mean, it’s really fun and I’m earning so many point!
Guess which days I went out dancing?
One thing I’ve learned though, if you wear the band on your right hand, you may make your partner uncomfortable. I just easily switch mine to the left and so far, it’s been really great!
So get out, beat the winter blues and earn some serious Fuel points dancing salsa!
Stay Shining Salseros!
It seems that everywhere you turn, Bachata is playing. In fact, it’s getting harder to find a night during the week where Bachata isn’t drawing out big crowds looking to get a little closer. With the dance’s popularity, it was only a matter of time before an old dance tradition returned to the scene: The Battle.
Just like in the Street Dance, Step It Up and the Glee-inspired Pitch Perfect; Battling is fine art which allows dancers to truly express themselves (and talk a little trash). Actually, talk a lot of trash.
How Does it Work?
Usually it’s either solo, a couple or a team will ‘step up’ and perform a series of shines/moves that showcases the skill-level of their team. While the first team rocks out, the second team must patiently wait. When the first team is complete, the second team then shows off their moves. This continues until one side concedes to the other.
Some Quick Rules:
There are basically no rules say for not touching the other team. Taunting, showing off and general swagger is encouraged.
Get Battle Ready:
While you may feel apprehensive about participating in a battle, Toronto Dance Salsa is holding a ‘Beginners Bachata Battle Bootcamp’ this coming Saturday, Jan.19th at Empress walk. The Style Queen herself, Tracie Yee will be commanding the Ladies and Bachata Sutra Master Lucky Sipin will be teaching his crane techniques to the gents.
With their guidance, the participating men and women will show their stuff, in an ‘easy-to-learn’ choreo and prove who’s got the eye of the bachata tiger. So come out to Empress walk, to show it off or witness how it happens in real life.
Stay (Battle)Shining Salseros!
In the meantime, here’s a great Salsa battle scene from Street Dance 2:
It’s no sooner than we put away our Turkey left-overs and rest up our ‘danced-all-long-weekend-at-congress’ feet, that we turn to thinking about Hallowe’en. More specifically, we’re most-likely thinking about what amazing costume are we going to unleash on the unsuspecting salsa populace. Before you rush out to the nearest costume-shop, let’s quickly go over some simple Salsa’ween guides for great costumes.
Can you move in the costume? Can your partners move around you? Large butterfly wings, monster spikes or could really limit your dancing. Keep things tight and don’t let it restrict you from unleashing your latest combo.
Can you see in this thing? A cool mask isn’t so cool if you’re unable to see the people dancing around you or your make-up makes you look like the girl from ‘The Grudge’.
Will you be able to dance in that costume without passing out from the heat? Let’s face it, it get’s pretty hot in the clubs and polyester won’t help. Try to think of costumes that keep the layers light and airy.
Some Suggestions for Popular Costumes (EDIT: Oct 17):
Binders Full of Women
Any Superhero: Batman & Co., The Avengers, Spiderman
Fairytale Characters: Princesses, Fairies
Popstars: PSY / Gangnam Style, Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj, Child Beauty Queen
Memes: Big Bird, Texts from Hilary, 50 Shades of Grey
No matter what you choose, be sure to head out and come up witha great Spooky, Sexy or Silly costume and get ready for TDS’s Halloween Party at Uptown Loft on Oct 20th @9pm! It’s one of our busiest nights and everyone’s in costume, looking to win some of the amazing prizes for great costumes!
Stay Shining Salseros!
If you were out at last Friday’s outing, you may have noticed that there was just ‘something in the air’. While it’s difficult to pinpoint just what the perfect dance recipe is, that outing had it in spades. The best part? A really good friend of mine hit a major watershed dance moment: feeling the music.
While he’s always been a great dancer, I feel like he’s always been searching for something in his dance. I feel like there are these certain plateau’s that we hit as we transition from one level to the next and it was amazing to witness him wade into the magnificent movement of musicality. You could just see it in his eyes, and despite all of classes, workshops and advice that you get, there’s no better moment that when you truly experience that moment.
If you haven’t experienced it yet, don’t worry. Musicality is much like falling in love, you can’t hurry, buy or even fake it… but you’ll experience it if you keep dancing. One day your body will hit a beat by accident, and then a few weeks later, you’ll finally get that body wave that matches that great bachata vocal and your shines will match that awesome solo in ‘Lady’.
Sometimes it takes a ton of workshops, months of classes or even private lessons but sometimes, just sometimes all it takes is ‘something in air’.
Stay Shining Salseros!
Only have a few moves and want to look a little more advanced? Why not try to work on your dance swagger. What’s swagger? Well, as the Urban Dictionary puts it:
“How one presents him or her self to the world. Swagger is shown from how the person handles a situation. It can also be shown in the person’s walk.”
In salsa, a person’s swagger is a mixture of how they move, their personality and how they make their partners feel. While this may sound silly to you, it’s something that resonates on the dance floor. You’ve seen those people out there…the sexy ones, the ones that always have their partners laughing, the romantic ones, the crazy dippers, the ‘getting-all-my-cardio-for-the-week’ ones, the dark and mysterious ones…
Now here’s the best part: you can have any dance floor swagger that you want.
While some people develope it naturally as they progress, you can learn how to fake it till you make it. The best way to start is to watch dancers who personify the type of personlity that you’d like to incorporate. Watch how they move, their style and think about what you can do to interpret it.
In Tango and Bachata, we talk about the dance term, ‘Intention’. By moving your frame and a certain level of condfidence your lead will be easier to interpret. I’m always saying in class that in order to develope intention, I dance as if I were Batman. He’s confident, strong and has a bold movement style. In reality, I’m Tony, a somewhat soft-spoken guy with a fondness for hats, but on the dance floor, I am a armour plated superhero who’s ready to save damsels in destress from bad dances! By being ‘Batman’, I feel less shy about doing sexy moves or pulling off a dip in true superhero-fashion.
You don’t have to be Batman, you can be James Bond, or Madonna, or Lady Gaga, or Jim Carey, or Don Juan… anyone you want and whenever you want. My buddy will be leading the more romantic bachata one-minute to having the funniest cha-cha the next.
I remember learning how to make my combs more ‘romantic’ by watching a few different ‘romantically swaggerific’ dancers do theirs. I even asked one of them for advice on how they interpret their combs. Then I went on to watch youtube videos of other dancers and have created a comb that I feel that matches my personality.
You may be thinking, ‘How do you make a comb look romantic?’. Being a swimmer, I started to pretend that I’m doing a comb underwater, so that I ease out my combing speed at the end. I also turn my hands like how gentlemen used to ask ladies to dance (from classic movies). Yes, it does sound super silly, but wow, the girls love it when I treat something as simple as a hair comb with such care.
Another great way to start thinking about adding some style to your dancing is by taking a styling class. TDS offers both STUDS and DIVAS classes that focus on adding styling, attitude and fun to your dancing. Over the years I’ve spent much time taking styling classes as well as emulating my favourite dancers to create a dance swag that’s truly my own.
So get out there, watch those dancers that you admire and figure out what it is about them that you’d like to help shape your swag. Usually it’s the little things, watch how they lead turns, how they step during a cross-body and even how they spin.
Just a word of advice, try to not let your swagger get in the way of you enjoying your dancing! It’s just a tool in your arsenal to help you have a little more expression. Also beware of the dark side, as people usually don’t like people who have creepy, arrogant or mean styles of swagger.
Stay Shining Salseros!
Well, the Annual TDS Competition has passed and it seems that each year gets better than the last! This year saw some amazing performances, especially the sultry song from Tracie Yee. With one great event passing, here’s whats going on to make sure that you have one amazing Summer of Salsa!
Get fit with our Zumba fitness classes! If you haven’t heard of the Zumba craze yet, put on your lulu’s and head down to Empress to get bikini-ready with this Latin-Fitness dance party.
Sexy Bachata-Sutra time. Learn the most romantic of the Latin dances, Bachata by either joining Tracie and I on Weds nights or taking your dance to the next level with Lucky’s Bachata-sutra. If you’ve never seen Lucky dance, there’s a reason he usually has a line-up of dance partners looking to enjoy his amazing Bachata skills.
Want to take your dance to the next level? Try the upcoming Helper-only Performance Class. Challenge your moves to some amazing Choreo, set at an advanced pace.
If you’re looking for more outings, we have our Bachata/Salsa Wed Night parties as well as our Sunday Socials. Stay tuned for more Saturday night theme parties!
If you’re looking for some non-TDS dancing, there’s always Sidewalk Salsa (at the corner of Spadina and Bloor), Salsa at Blue Mountain (june 22-24) and Salsa on St. Clair (July 7 & 8).
Keep your eyes peeled as I hear that there are some really cool specialty workshops coming up! As soon as I hear more, I’ll put them up.
Stay Shining Salseros!