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    Competition Time!

    You may have noticed that lately, a handful of dancers have been furiously showing off their moves at our socials. Or you may have noticed some people carefully watching who’s dancing with who and how they’re doing… Well, my friends, it’s that time of year again… TDS Competition time!!!

    Ever since Sharon, Evan and the gang have announced that registration is open, I’ve seen many eligible dancers take to the floor and have been sizing up their potential dance partners. I’ve also had a number of said dancers approach me for advice and my thoughts about the yearly ‘Salsa-Mania’ main event. So whether you were witness to last years’ festivities or a competition virgin who’s been thinking about competing, here’s a little bit of advice from someone who’s lived it…

    The Annual TDS Competition takes place every year, usually between April – June and feature only TDS students, helpers and assistants competing for some pretty awesome prizes! There are two rounds, preliminaries and finals.

    The Preliminaries (or Prelims) have up to 15 couples who all dance to the same song, in which they won’t know until the night of. This round is all about seeing who has the fundamentals…timing, leading, following. That night only 5 couples will go through to the finals!

    The Finals have the top 5 couples from the Prelims dancing to a choreographed song of their choosing. This round is about the whole presentation: musicality, performance, costumes, etc! The top three winners get some pretty awesome prizes and have all gone on to serious TDS and salsa glory!

    So, are you thinking about competing? Here are some pieces of advice from someone who’s been through it all:

    -If you’re scared, dont’ worry! Everyone is scared about competing when they first sign up. I was pretty scared last year, but it goes away soon enough.
    -If you’re gunning for first place, be prepared to work. Many dancers spend many nights and weekends practicing to perfection!
    -Think you’re not a good enough dancer yet? You wouldn’t believe how getting ready for the competition amps up your dancing. Even if you don’t win first place, you’ll still walk away being noticed for how great your dancing has become.
    -Pick a good partner that you click with and you know will put in the work. It’s just like doing a project in high school, if only one of you puts in the effort, it shows.
    -Don’t worry if you don’t know how to perform, not only do you get a great group lesson with Tracie that teaches you the ins and outs of the competition, but you also get a really awesome private with Evan!

    If there’s anything that I can stress is this: TDS is such a great and fun family environment that you probably won’t get too stressed out. All the teams look out for one another and keep the atmosphere light. So sign up and really have fun while enjoying the entire process!

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!


    TDS Valentines Party! Shenanigans, Performances and Threesomes… Oh my!

    If you’re looking to spice up your Valentine’s weekend, look no further than the TDS social at acrobat this Saturday! Whether you’re a salsa-single or an advanced latin-lover we have a ton of fun events planned for the evening! So be sure to wear your highest pumps or finest kicks, because our V-day social is by far the most popular night!

    Fun Events, You Say?

    Looking to add some sass to your salsa?
    Take either the beginner or intermediate lessons.

    Love watching other people do it?
    We have performances from the amazing Latin Groove Productions and United Salseros teams.

    Love watching other people do it with two partners?
    Come see the TDS student performance team do a salsa threesome! Yep… that’s one guy and two girls!!!

    Wanna check out the new guy?
    TDS’ newest teacher, Shawn Bracke will be performing some serious hip hop!

    Thinking that this isn’t enough?
    As usual, there will be a ton of salsa shenanigans in which you can win some serious PRIZES!!!

    So what are you waiting for? Come to Acrobat Lounge (2464 Yonge St.) this Saturday from 8:45pm! We have a ton of lessons, dancing, performances and shenanigans to keep you feeling sassy all week long!

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!


    Ringing into 2012!

    With each calendar year switch, I look back to the previous years’ dance resolutions and see how my dance path stayed on course or veered off path. I’m always amazed to see how much life can change in a year, and this past one was no exception. From competing to assisting to even being ‘salsa claus’; here’s how I measured up to last year…

    2011 Resolutions:
    1-Nail down the forward/reverse coca cola as well as the 360 degree cola.

    HOW I DID:
    While I smoothed out my colas, I’ve digressed from conquering the 360 cola. While I’ve done it a handful of times, I decided to perfect the lead of the regular ones before tackling the 360. Hopefully this time next year, I’ll have perfected this one and will be working on the 720!

    2-Continue my weight loss through muchos dancing

    HOW I DID:
    Here’s one I can check off (although a few weeks at my parents haven’t helped). I have to admit that most of the loss was due to fitness apps and portion control; I really have to get out dancing more to help burn off the calories! I will definitely get out dancing more often this year as I really miss the social scene.

    3-Check out a few Milongas to practice my Tango steps
    I really wish I had kept up with my Tango, but alas I did not. Perhaps I get a few bonus points for incorporating some Tango into the comp routine?

    4-Work on my afro-cuban movements
    I can check this one off. From working with the student team to Olivier and Emely’s great advice, I look less awkward while doing Afro movement.

    5-Work on on2 dancing
    I had hoped to do this, but decided to work on my On1 Performance. Perhaps 2012 will be the year that I switch?

    6-Continue working on my own style, from personalized dance moves to body movement
    I can check this one off as I spent much of my time (assisting up at the front of class) working on body movement. I feel like I’ve reached a point where the movements look much more fluid and dancer-like.

    7-Work on more dance expression and feeling the music
    This has been a really touchy point for me. While there were certain points of the year where I felt like I had made a lot of gains, there were definitely many other times where I have lost my dance expression. I have a feeling that this year I will focus on fitness, dance expression and lift technique.

    8-Learning Cumbia/Cuban style Salsa
    I really can’t check this one off. While I’ve got a good grasp of Cuban style Bachata, my Salsa Cubana is pretty weak.

    9-Attend a salsa congress outside of Toronto
    I can’t check this one off either. Perhaps I’ll go to Vancouver (which I hear is amazing) or San Francisco (as my parents live there). Maybe the trick is to go closer, like the Niagara Falls or Gateneau ones? Road Trip anyone?

    10-Get around to watching a ton of those salsa lessons online
    It’s funny as I was just thinking these past few days to get around to watching the online videos and sadly; I have yet to do so. I feel like I have to make this a weekly routine as I’ve sunk into doing pretty standard moves without much variation.

    As you can see, I can’t check off many dance resolutions for 2011. The funny thing though is that I’m not disappointed with 2011 as I learned so much! From body movements, experiencing a competition to taking a few classes outside of Toronto; I’ve grown as a dancer in many ways.

    It’s easy to get a little down from not accomplishing everything (or anything) that you originally wanted to. I feel that the beauty of dance and life is the journey of it all. True I may have not learned on2, but I definitely improved my on1, body movements and so much more. I’m completely off-track from my previous resolutions, but happily resolved in how off-track I am!

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!

    Are You Ready for TDS’ Monster Halloween Outing?

    Halloween is an awesome night for Salseros as so many events are going on. If you’re looking for the craziest Halloween bash then check out TDS’ party at Acrobat on the 29th!

    Did you know that it’s our biggest outing every year? For the past two years there’ve been line-ups out the door (so get your costume on early and check out the lessons!)

    Want more chills? We’ve got an awesome costume contest with serious prizes and there have been rumours of a very scary surprise event!

    Need a few costume tips?
    -wear masks with large eye holes: if you don’t have peripheral vision, you won’t be able to dance.
    -avoid bulky costumes that impair body movement.
    -avoid lots of dangling things, wings, hats, etc. If it can get caught or fall off, it probably will.

    For the salseras, if you’re worried about your costume being a little skimpy, just tell them that you’re being practicle as it’s much safer to salsa in!

    For guys, be careful about your costume choice as you don’t want to creep out the ladies anymore than you normally do… I kid, I kid… The crazier and scarier the better!

    So keep the 29th (around 845) open as we continue the tradition of the best outing, crazy costume contest and an all-out Spooky Salsa Party!

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!

    Congress 2011 is Almost in Session!

    If you’re a little newer to dancing Salsa, you may have heard people talking (or tweeting) about the upcoming Salsa Congress. While it may sound like we’re all getting together to go voting, a Salsa Congress is a massive, Thanksgiving weekend affair featuring dance workshops, performances and swag from some of the best dancers/ musicians worldwide!

    While you may think that you’re too new to dancing to experience this amazing, once-a-year event; think again as there are a ton of experiences for you! So to make it easy for you, I’ve decided to list a few events for you to go check out (if you see me, say hello or ask for a dance!)

    Thursday Oct 6th: The Annual Canadian Salsa Dance Championships
    If you love to see amazing dancers compete (ala SYTYCD or Dancing with the Stars) you gotta check out this show! You’ll see the best of the best Canadian dancers burn the floor in some of the most compelling dancing you’ve ever seen. Trust me, it’s really fun. Oh, and there’s dancing after!

    Friday Oct 7th
    Check out Friday night for a great night of performances and great social dancing that goes really, really late!

    Sat Oct 8th Beginner Bootcamp, Workshops, Performances and Dancing!
    Feel like you need a few more lessons before going dancing? Take the extremely popular Beginner Bootcamp! From 10:30am – 5pm you can go from not knowing how to dance to impressing that cute salsera from your level 1 class!

    Know a little bit of salsa and want to expand your knowledge? There are a ton of great workshops for the beginner/intermediate from Rhythm and Body Movement, The Anti-Styling, Styling Workshop and even beginner Bachata, Zouk and Latin Hustle classes.

    Now if you don’t want to hit up any workshops, you HAVE TO, HAVE TO go to the Saturday night performances. Why? You are guaranteed to see some of the best dancing that you’ve ever seen. I’ve been each year since I’ve started and this is the night of all nights to go! Afterwards, stick around for some serious dancing to Ray de la Paz from New York City with guests Luisito Orbegoso & Moda Eterna! An amazing band that you just have to check out live.

    Sunday Oct 9th
    Sunday features more great workshops and then more performances, from seeing many local student teams, more competition and then dancing till dawn! 

    Trust me, if you can slip away from Thanksgiving celebrations, you’ll want to spend your weekend checking out the Congress! It’s an amazing experience and a great way to amp up your dancing (and maybe even get a new pair of shoes!)

    For more information, check out the official site:

    Till Then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!

    Stock up your Salsa Arsenal!

    It’s around this time of year where I find a lot of newer salseros asking me for advice on adding moves to their salsa arsenal. Now I could go on and on but I’m going to try to keep things a little simple…

    The Web has a Million Move Tutorials
    Search youtube and google videos and you’ll find a million videos! Some are great, others… well… Here are a few of my favourite websites for moves, check them out as they may have just what you’re looking for!

    Get Creative!
    Sick of giving your girls right turns? Try leading some of them with your left hand. Do you turn yourself much? I didn’t think so… most guys don’t. Try throwing in your own turns to catch her attention! How about giving cross body leads only using one hand? There are a million variations of all the level 1 and 2 moves, you just have to try thinking outside the box.

    Another option is to take the moves you know, and add a little ‘musicality’ to them. Lead a simple ladies’ right turn, but take twice as long to lead it. Take the whole 8 counts to turn yourself and do some fun body movements while you turn. Try leading a cross body where you don’t actually cross the lady until the next coming 5-6-7. Try leading a reverse turn, but throw in a cool body movement you learned in that hip hop class. The beauty of dancing is expressing yourself, take advantage of it and people will notice!

    Watch Creative  Dancers
    Want to learn new moves? Go to the social and spend some time watching all of the dancers that have all the right moves. While you may not be ready for some of those crazy combos yet, there will always be something quick and easy that you can put into your own set of moves. You’ll see that most of the crazy dancers always have great moves that are really easy to pull off!

    Save Your Best For Last
    One of the most common mistakes leaders make is to just start dancing a song really strong… they’ll pull off all of their really cool moves right at the beginning and a few minutes later; they have nothing left. If you really want to show the ladies how you are a great and creative leader, start small. Do basics, turns and cross body leads and slowly reveal your better moves as you go along!

    From getting inspired online, to watching other dancers and switching up how you lead your current moves; you’ll be the next well-stocked Batman on the dancefloor!

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!

    Sexy Salsa Ladies Needed for a Threesome!

    I know what you’re thinking, but no, not that kind of threesome… but it does involve two girls for every boy ;) While the spaces are filling up fast, we do have a few spots left for ladies on our upcoming Salsa Threesome Performance Team! Wait!?! Before you get scared away, it really is going to be an awesome experience and if you want to take your dancing to the next level; you’re going to love being on the performance team!

    I remember how I felt about my first time, but seriously, once you try it, you’ll love it and never want to go back! Performing can seem so scary, but there are so many pros that you should really just sign up…

    Performing will make you a better dancer
    I will guarantee that being on a team will help so many aspects to your dancing. Unlock your inner salsa diva by working on your styling, body movement and having some sexy salsa spicy attitude. I remember my first performance team partner, who could barely do a coca-cola when we began, went on to win the TDS competition only a few months later.

    Performing is really, really fun
    While being in front of a crowd dancing can seem really, really scary… it’s actually not that bad when you have a solid team dancing with you. Not only that, your dance partners are just awesome as they’re going through the same thing that you are. I can only say great things about my two performance teams as both groups just made it all super fun.

    Nothing beats having a salsa wing-girl
    Quick, name three other girls from your salsa classes… what? you can’t? Oh yeah, it’s because ladies usually don’t meet the other girls from their classes. What’s so great about dancing with another girl is that a) you will make a really awesome new salsa lady-friend as well as b) become a way better follower because you need to dance with your lead and sync up with another girl!

    One of the most common comments I hear from lady-helpers is that they really enjoy getting to know the other girls. Not only will you be a sassy lady social butterfly, but you’ll have the best lady entourage group in all of Acrobat!

    Hair Done, Nails Done, Everything Big!
    Another great aspect to performing is justifying getting all dolled up to perform! You can totally justify getting that new dress, getting your hair did and put on some body glitter guilt-free! Trust me, the Salsa guys will be lining up to dance with you once they see you all done up.

    Threesomes are just awesome
    No, seriously… it’s going to be pure shenanigans and a performance that people will be talking about for a long time! From taking your dancing to the next level, to bonding with great people and getting all dressed up; the salsa performance team is just for you! There are only a handful of spots for the ladies left, so take a deep breathe, you know you can do it… and you won’t feel guilty for doing it!!!

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseras!

    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!

    Dance Like Barbie

    While working on my multiple-turn lead, I’ve noticed that I’ve picked up a nasty habitby putting my lead hand way too high when turning my partner. A weird lead no doubt, but one that is very common. While I can really focus on keeping that lead hand closer to proper halo height, I feel that the real culprit is that most followers aren’t using ‘Barbie’ technique.

    You’re probably thinking, wait, that Barbie? Yes, I do mean the one and only Plastic Princess of Pink. Now, before you pronounce me crazy, I want you to think about how Barbie’s arms are slightly bent. When her arms are down, they are in the perfect position for being lead with perfect tension. When you move her arms upward, they are in the perfect position for being guided through her turns. If you start to dance thinking ‘must dance like Barbie’, you’ll be benefitting everyone.

    First, let’s look at the proper form… when you get ready for a turn, try to always keep your arm bent somewhere close 90 degrees and keep your elbow parallel to shoulder (it should be in front of your face, closer to your forehead). If you keep your arm in that position, it’ll help you keep your balance.

    Next, you should try to turn ‘as a unit’. Imagine that you’re a more flexible Barbie. What I mean by this is that when you’re being turned, that your torso and your arms will be pretty solid and both turn at the same time. When your arm moves before your torso, you’re dancing with what we call ‘spaghetti arms’ because the turning connection becomes very weak/limp. It makes it almost impossible to turn and you really lose the one thing that Salsa is all about, manipulating momentum.

    By keeping your arm slightly bent and moving as a unit, the guys’ lead will be better as his hand will be at proper halo level. You’ll be teaching your leads to guide more effectively and everyone will benefit. Take a look around and see how many people are leading turns improperly… you’ll see tons of people in the correct position at the beginning of the turn and suddenly they’re raising their arms straight up in the air mid-turn!

    So ladies, be like Barbie and gents be sure to summon their ‘inner Ken’ in order to keep your partner looking great with proper technique!

    Till then,

    Stay Shining Salseros!

    Summer Salsa Fun

    Summertime is my most favourite season for Salsa dancing! Whether you’re spinning at a sweltering club or open-breaking somewhere outdoors; it just feels like you’re somewhere exotic. I’ve decided to list a few of the great summer dancing events that you can go to truly feel like you’re living the music!

    Sidewalk Salsa
    Every Thursday from 730-930p.m. Break out your clave and burn the pavement at the corner of Bloor and Spadina! Nothing
    beats dancing outdoors with the great people who never miss this event!

    Salsa on St. Clair
    While this event just passed us by; it’s one of the best! Bands, schools and dancers put on one of the most fun Salsa street parties in the world!

    The Beaches Jazz Fest
    Get a tan and dance the weekend away! A dedicated Latin stage means the Salsa, Merengue and Bachata will accompany you while you get that perfect tan!

    Wasaga Beach Party
    A somewhat more informal party, people usually put together a great beach b.b.q. and dancing on one of the nicest beaches in Ontario. Think bikinis and bachata! Woot!

    VIP Thursdays
    Check out our very own, D.J. Duck and Romantico as they heat up the newest Salsa hotspot on Thursday nights.

    Lula Lounge
    One of the greatest clubs to see live bands from across the globe! When you walk in, you’ll swear you’re in Cuba and when you hit the floor, you’ll know it!

    Acrobat Fridays & Tds Saturdays
    A serious dancers’ favourite, Friday nights feature performances, instruction from many teachers and just amazing dancers. Come dance on the special Saturdays when Tds hosts their outing as it’s more relaxed, but still really fun!

    Plaza and El Rancho
    Two of my fav places year-round as the music is a great mix (even playing Reggaeton) and the people come out to just have fun. Be sure to check out the special Brazilian nights as you can dance Samba, Zouk and Lambada (that’s the forbidden dance!)

    A Toronto standard in the heart of Yorkville. Great dancers and new dancers take to the floor in this more upscale club. Be sure to check out the On2 and Cuban nights.

    6 Degrees Salsa Tuesdays
    Put on your finest dancing gear as this club features some of the best and dressiest dancers in the city. Be sure to check out their special long weekend salsa parties, with the amazing ‘White Party’ coming soon!

    Tds and Dovercourt Sunday Socials
    While I’m biased towards the Tds social, both events feature new and advanced dancers having a blast, dancing the weekend away! Whether you missed asking that cutie to dance on the Friday night, be sure to not miss your chance at these Sunday parties!

    I love dancing in the summer and whether you’re outside or indoors; be sure to keep dancing as it’ll help you get closer to having that beach-body ready!

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!