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    It’s Bachata Time at TDS!

    If you’re tired of sitting on the sidelines during Bachata songs and want to learn how to dance one of the sexiest Latin dances, then now is the time to learn! Having taken the course myself, I was really amazed to see my mild skills become ‘caliente’, even after a few classes! It was so fun that I actually love Bachata more than any other dance!

    What will you learn?
    Take your basic from a ‘level-one shuffle’ to be on the level of a true Domincan. You’ll learn how to spice up your body movement and add romance to your leading/following technique. You’ll also learn some pretty hot turn-patterns that will be sure to turn heads as you burn the floor!

    Two Speed Class Options
    If you’re dying to get your bachata down as fast as possible, we have a condensed course with Olivier. If you’ve seen him dance, then you know that he’s got the Bachata skills to pay the bills!  Spend 2 hours a week, over 4 weeks for some high-speed bachata action.

    If you’d rather take your time, take the 9 week course with Tracie. Known for her spicy body-movement and style, she’s going to use each of the 9 week classes to slow-roast your dancing to the next level!

    Time for Bachata
    Having been around the dance scene for a few years now, I know that Bachata classes are only offered once or maybe twice a year! Now is the time to sign up and really up the ante. There’s nothing better than spending the second-half of Summer amping up your dance and prepping for a potentially sexy Dominican Vacation this Winter!

    Till Then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!

    Getting Ready for Spring Salsa Cleaning…

    So February is over and we’re soon enough it’ll be time to pack up the mittens and do some Spring Cleaning. Winter has always been tough for me, but I find that Salsa helps make it easier. Here are the few things that have put a smile on my face over the past few months…

    Smooth Cola’s
    I’m so proud of the students in our Level 5 Class! I remember at the beginning of this semester, that I had made a personal pact to help as many guys get their cola’s down as possible. Thanks to an amazing helping team as well as Sara’s awesome instruction, I feel like we really got the guys doing smooth Colas. It takes a lot of dedication to learn this move and these students really put their all into taking their dance to the next level.

    Valentines is the New Hallowe’en
    If you didn’t make it out to the TDS Valentines Event, then you really missed out on a night that was truly amazing! From really sexy combo from Sharon & Evan, amazing performances (esp Tracie & Daniels’ Tango) to the fact that there was a line-up to get in by 9:30; our V-day party has become the biggest night of the year for Acrobat and one not to be missed!

    Bachata Fest Represent!
    While I’ve taken a personal break from performing, it was great to be able to watch the Bachata Helpers rock the stage at the Bachata Fest! Looking sexy in blue and dapper in black; the Helpers brought out the romance and much love was in the air. While I missed being on stage, I was so proud to see the team show the Salsa world, how we do!

    Salsa Friends
    Winter is really tough, but the friends I’ve made from TDS have really been there for me. I have some really great memories from Acrobat, laughing at Empress and rocking out at Venice. Sometimes I feel that what’s truly great about Salsa isn’t the dance; but the people you meet while dancing.

    Get Ready For Spring!
    So get ready to smile as you can now sign-up for Spring classes!!! I’d recommend doing it soon as I hear some classes are going fast. There’s nothing better than that feeling of not wearing a Winter Coat while heading to a Salsa Class/Social… so enjoy your March break and get ready for another season of serious Salsa Classes!

    Till Then,
    Staying Shining Salseros!

    October: Time for Congress and Time for Turkey!

    Now if you’re somewhat new to the Salsa scene you may be hearing about this thing called ‘the Congress’. What is it? you may ask; well, let me do my best to give you a quick overview.

    The Congress in a nutshell:
    A Salsa Congress is kind of like the Superbowl and the Oscars (but way more fun and sexy!). Salsero/as from around the world go to the hosting city and showcase their dancing skills through competitions, demonstrations, workshops and (my personal favorite) social dancing. Usually spanning over a weekend, Congresses are 1-stop shops for everything salsa-related.

    Some Highlights of This Year’s Congress:
    Opening Night Gala:
    Featuring the Canadian Salsa Championships & amazing social dancing afterwards

    Vendors:
    Need new shoes? shirts? DVDs? They’re all here

    Dance Performances:
    Last year I saw some of the most amazing dancing performed by teams from around the world

    Workshops:
    From Lady’s Styling, Lifts and Tricks to Cha Cha and Sexy Salsa moves…you can learn from the best

    Beginner Boot Camp:
    Still new to salsa? take this day-long workshop to get your salsa steps up to par

    Social Dancing:
    Here you’ll find hundreds of dancers ranging in all skill levels for some of the most fun dance sessions that you’ll ever have!

    Cost Factor:
    There are a ton of price options from those who want to do it all to those who just want to dance the night away. Check out the Congress website for more options, one thing that’s for sure, is that the congress is THE event for all salsa dancers!

    See you on the floor!
    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!

    Readers’ Suggestion: What Makes Someone a Good Bachatera/o?

    It’s funny how many ways a question can be answered.
    Recently, a friend of mine asked me, ‘what makes someone a good bachata dancer?’
    While I’m not an expert, I have spent much time trying to improve my bachata skills and here are a few things that I’ve noticed along the way…

    Cascade
    I never truly understood bachata until I went to the Dominican and saw how it was properly done. I was amazed to see that it wasn’t about turn patterns but rather how the bodies speak to one another through subtle movements on the dance floor. When Shakira sang about ‘hips don’t lie’, she was definitely speaking about bachata, as all of the dancers were very close and their bodies were telling stories on the dance floor.

    The best bachata dancers always seem to have a cascading effect to their movements. From a subtle shoulder roll leads the dancer’s body’s to arc one way and then crescendo into a full around-the-world movement. To me, it’s not about doing a one cool move into another; but rather how you move when you do a cool move into another.

    Which leads me to something similar yet slightly different…
    Call and Respond
    Another trait that I love about good bachatera’s is how they respond to the movements that I’m making. If I go from a side basic into a ‘on-the-spot’ movement will she acknowledge that quickly, or will it take a few steps? If she catches that I want to do an ‘on-the-spot’ movement will she respond by accenting her body movement? This is all call and respond.

    A term used most-often in music, Call and Respond refers to when one instrument will play and then another will play in a way that it’s almost talking back to the first instrument. In Hip Hop, you’ll see M.C.’s often ask a question and the audiences will respond with an answer, which in turn the M.C. will either repeat his question louder or perhaps add a new question making the Call and Respond more of a game.

    In Bachata, great dancers feed off one another in their movement. Sometimes they are so good you swear that they have choreographed this at home, but great partners watch each other for subtle movements from the shoulders, hips and body; and move accordingly. It makes your dance sexy and shows your partner that you’re paying attention.

    Respect
    Dominican dancers love to get close, but that doesn’t mean that the same thing goes here in Canada. While many people do get close, we are for the most part, an intrinsic people and getting close means that you trust your partner to show you a certain level of courtesy. I’ve heard many tales from lady dancers who complain about guys who politely ask them to dance only to press up against them in an ungentlemanly way!

    Those who know me well, know that I only have a small group of people whom I feel comfortable dancing such a close and sensual dance with. I can also name off about a dozen other dancers who feel the same way. The best dancers are the ones who will keep their space with their partners until it feels more natural to get close.

    Being Playful
    With the respect issue out of the way, I love watching the dancers who are flirty/playful with one another. In her classes, Sara, is always saying how you can flirt your dance up a little with the smallest of things. From spotting your partner just a little bit longer before you turn, or even Sharon’s motto of ‘there’s never a bad time for a hip roll’; one can really make it great with small, subtle-movements. Personally, I like to exaggerate my arm movements, as if I was underwater. It sounds weird, but makes all of my combs look like romantic gestures instead of ‘insert-arm-over-partners-shoulder’.

    Timing
    One of my favourite dance partners says that her favourite bachatero’s play with timing. One thing that Emely really made apparent is that the basic is just that, a base for all of the fun movement. There have been a few classes where we would spend swaying in different rhythms and times to demonstrate how beautiful it can be when two people are just moving to how their bodies feel they should move to the music. I remember looking in the mirror in one of those classes only to marvel at how together, the class looked like a swaying bamboo forest.

    Have fun with timing. Take the full 8 counts to do a hip roll, accent the guitars by popping back and forth a few times…take a chance.

    Expression
    This is to me, the most important factor in what makes someone a good dancer… no matter the style of music, it’s how the dancer reacts to the music that matters. Think of the last song (or movie, or book or photo) that made you want to cry. Someone about it just effects you and you react to how you truly felt when experiencing it. You should always dance this way.

    Dance is expression and the best dancers truly listen to how the music makes them feel. I see so many people out on the dance floor whipping through moves that don’t match the music that it makes me want to cry. This isn’t ‘Step it Up’ and we’re not out there to ‘serve’ our partners… we’re out there to express how the music makes us feel and hope that in turn, it lets our partners know how the song moves us.

    My favourite dancers speak to me on the dance floor, and if you truly listen, you’ll speak back. Bachata is a beautiful conversation that’s sensual, romantic and best of all, a conversation that only you and your partner will truly understand.

    Current Latin Hits of 2010

    One of the best things about getting into Salsa and other Latin musical styles is that you discover literally decades of great music. While it’s easy to get lost in the Salsa of yester-year, I’d like to do a quick post of some hot tracks that are currently flooding the airwaves in 2010…

    Jose Alberto (El Canario) – Que me lo cuente

    While ‘The Canary’ has been around for a long time and made many of the tracks you hear while out dancing, it’s amazing to see that he’s still got it! The guitars really hooked me and love how dynamic the song is!

    India – Estupida

    While I wasn’t able to catch the Luminato show a few weeks ago, apparently India rocked Toronto! I just love the desparation and frustration in her voice for this track.

    Enrique Iglesias feat. Juan Luis Guerra – Cuando Me Enamoro

    A modern take on bachata, Enrique teams up with one of my favourite Bachata singers to make a nice contribution to the Dominican Music.

    While I personally love the Latin music of the 70s, 2010 has been a great year for new music and hopefully you get to explore more of the people who are making great tracks this year!

    Till then,

    Stay Shining Salseros!

    Salsa Spring Celebration: Are you signed up for Salsa, Cha Cha, Raggaeton and more?

    Are you signed up for what looks like one of the best season of class offerings of classes at Toronto Dance Salsa? If you’ve got  the Winter blues, or you just need an energetic pick-me-up, here’s a sampler of the classes that are being offered:


    Casino Rueda Workshop & Social:
    In case you haven’t read my previous post about how much I enjoyed the first Casino workshop, let me just say that everyone who took this class had a blast! Learn a ton of Cuban moves (that can easily transfer into your regular salsa routine) and dance with everyone in a large circle. It’s rapid, it’s super fun and taught by Tracie & Daniel!

    Bachata, 9 week course (already SOLD OUT!!!) :
    As soon as I saw the class being offered, I quickly signed up. Lucky I did as it sold out so quickly that there’s a waiting list!!! Only goes to show that after taking the winter off from Salsa, people are back in action and taking multiple classes!

    Cha Cha, 9 week course ( 3 Women needed until it sells out!!) :
    Another hot course, Cha Cha is going fast! If you’ve ever wanted to learn this sexy dance or are tired of sitting out each time they play a Cha Cha song, then you’ve got to check out this course!

    Student Performance Class :
    Feel nervous about performing? Don’t worry, I did too… but I’m loving the Helper Performance Team classes and can guarantee that you will too! It’s made me a better dance in all regards and it’s been amazing learning from Tracie and hanging with tons of great Toronto Dance Salsa dancers! Trust me, once you hear the crowd cheering you on you will be as hooked as Miro and Julia!

    Raggaeton Funk Class :
    In case you missed the episode of eTalk, Tracie was teaching Raggaeton to Leah Miller of SYTYCD!!! I love, love, love Raggaeton and am looking forward to this course! Learn how to tear up the dance floor to the music of Daddy Yankee, Pitbull, Winsin Y Yandel! Focusing on body isolations, styling and co-ordination, you’ll be owning on the dance floor in no time! 

    Salsa Levels 1-6 :
    Have you signed up for your next level yet? Trust me, sign up soon as they tend to go just as quickly as our specialty courses!

    Ok, I’ve got to go and sign up for Raggaeton…
    till then,

    Stay Shining Salseros!

    The Republic of Bachata : Up close with the music & people of the Dominican Republic

    Bachata isn’t about the footwork, nor is it about styling or getting dangerously close to your dance partner…it’s about something greater that’s very apparent when witnessing life in the Dominican Republic. Facing the harsh realities of a developing nation, the people that I met during a recent trip seemed to cope through music and dance. Bachata and Merengue aren’t just catchy songs to dance to, but are moving statements of life, love and loss.


    Almost as soon as the plane landed you could hear the music in the airport, then on the bus and practically everywhere on the resort. A TDS/Latin dancers’ paradise, you basically end up dancing Bachata, Merengue and Salsa every day/night. While it was cool to impress the touristas, my favourite part of the whole trip was during an excursion where a local guide took notice of our impromptu Bachata at a small canteen. It was amazing to see how proud and amazed he was to find out that people outside of his country knew the dance and even it’s artists. 


    This pride was apparent throughout the trip, from wait-staff at the resort to the children at the local public school to the wondrous dance team. While it may not make sense, but being surrounded by all of the textures of the D.R. you seem to feel the music much more. Each dance step taken drew that much more sadness, strife and passion.


    While some are lucky to get this feeling through the music alone, it took witnessing the real Dominican life for me to truly feel and express Bachata in my movements and mind. With that being said, I would like to express positive thoughts and much love to the Haitians, their families and friends that we met on the trip. I hope that they are safe, healthy and together throughout this difficult time. 


    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros

    And you thought H1N1 was a Raggaeton band!

    With Dancing With The Stars’ Melissa Rycroft catching H1N1 (as well as the endless media coverage about Swine Flu), I thought it may be wise to talk about how it could affect the salsa scene. While I’m no doctor, H1N1 seems to be a highly communicable disease that could be ‘bad news bears’ for the dance floor (especially with all of you bachata-lovers out there ;) After checking out many websites, pamphlets and reports, I thought that it would be good to list some of the precautions that the government recommends when it comes to protecting yourself and the community from the Swine Flu…


    -If you are sick please stay home (rest up for those shines for when you’re feeling better).
    -Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use an alchohol-based hand sanitizer.
    -Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
    -Cough an sneeze into your arm, not your hand.
    -Keep common surfaces clean and disinfected.
    -Don’t over-exert yourself (take a break when Ran Kan Kan plays)

    You may have noticed that I didn’t include ‘getting the H1N1 flu shot’ with my list, but I feel that’s a very personal choice that one must make for themselves. I would love to hear your opinions about the shot as well as giving suggestions as to how we can keep the dance floors spicy AND hygienic.

    Till next time, keep shining salseros!