Monthly Archives: June 2007

Congresses – Part 3?

Benefits of Salsa Congresses

Ok this is the last of my 3 part entry of the wonders of Salsa Congresses. I spoke in the last two entries about the benefits of the workshops and the social dancing. There are still a few more benefits.

Every evening of the congress will have about one to one and a half hours of performances. This can be very long when you are already so tired but it is good to commit to seeing the performances for at least one of the evenings. When choosing which evening to attend remember that they leave the best performances for Saturday night. However also remember that there is too little seating in most congresses so get there early to get the proper seat or you may be standing for quite a while.

I recommend seeing performances because it inspires us all to be better dancers. The costumes, music, timing and choreography is very entertaining and exciting to watch and can give you a sense of moves you would like to learn, or the style of dancer you are interested in becoming. It is also great to go out and support everyone as I can’t describe to you the amount of work and dedication that goes into creating a choreography.

The last big benefit is the international contacts that you make at a congress. I don’t take advantage of this enough so I really encourage you all to do so. Keeping in touch with fellow salsa lovers around the world creates a great sense of community and it is always a benefit to you to know people in different countries as you travel around the world.

Hope this gives you a little more info on why you should attend the next congress. Keep dancing!

Congresses – Part 2?

Salsa Congress Benefits

Yesterday I spoke of some great benefits when it comes to attending a congress. The moral of yesterday’s blog entry was to attend congresses regardless of what level you are in and attend as many workshops as possible and always record what you learn.

Now let’s discuss the social dancing. This is the heart of where the learning is! I can remember several successful congresses full of great social dancing that transformed my salsa skills and gave me more confidence and creativity when I returned to my usual salsa haunts.

Don’t be afraid to ask others to dance. They will likely accept and if they don’t it is not about you. What is amazing about a congress is that you can dance with some of the best dancers in the world and it is usually a very exciting experience. Remember though that if you are a beginner you want to dance with someone who is slightly more advanced then you so that you can learn from them without feeling like you are burdening them with your dancing.

My first congress I barely danced. I mostly watched in wonder at all the amazing social dancing I was seeing. I must admit I thought about giving up dancing in a weak moment but a moment later I felt very inspired and was ready to learn more and advance so that one day I could dance like the women I had seen.

Don’t lose the chance of social dancing at a congress – it is the best training you can get and is the reason why you learned to dance.

Many Toronto Dance Salsa students are heading to Miami in August for their annual congress. They are offering us a full congress pass for $150 which is a great price. Good luck to everyone and hope you all have a great time!

Congresses – Part 1?

Salsa congresses – Part 1

Many students approach me asking what a salsa congress is and what benefit is it to them to attend. I think the perception is that congresses are for professional dancers and you have to be an advanced dancer to attend.

The truth is that salsa congresses benefit every level of dancer from absolute beginner to professional. There is an abundance of classes, performances and social dancing partners that can lift off your dance level especially if you are stuck in a rut.

Congresses work like this: They are usually spread out over a weekend with before and after parties. You will find approximately 2 days of salsa-related workshops. Many times there are two or three workshops in different rooms at the same time so you have an options of topics. Workshops state usually whether they cater to beginner, intermediate or advanced dancers so before the congress you can set up your schedule.

There are about 5 hours of straight workshops which can really sap your energy and memory. My suggestion is to take a video camera or camera with video capabilities and record the end of every workshop. Some instructors let you tape them showing the final product. Others ask that you record yourself. Either way, take advantage of recording it as you will forget most of what you learned. However, remember that the mind has been expanded and muscle memory is in place so you haven’t truly forgotten it. With a refresher video you can get the move right back.

Many people skip the workshops due to expense or length. I had skipped workshops too. However, looking back I wish I did every single workshop as you can learn so much from the variety of instructors that attend a congress. If you are attending a congress in your own city my suggestion is to take mostly international workshops as you can always get an opportunity to take a local workhop but how often do you get the chance to work with an instructor from Miami or England or Australia?

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of my congress blog!

Vida! Show extended

VIDA! $30 tickets for you…

If you haven’t had a chance to see the show VIDA! playing at the Royal Alexander Theatre in downtown Toronto, there are still 4 days left. The show was extended due to its popularity during the Luminato Festival. I was also provided with a great offer to extend to my students so I thought I would include it here for you and tell you what I thought of the show.

Instead of the usual $84 best seat tickets, you can now see the show for only $30! Performances are taking place on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm as well as Saturdays at 2pm or 8pm.

To take advantage of this great deal refer to the promotional name “FIESTA” when ordering online at or by phone at 416-872-1212.

This show has received excellent reviews. Many of our students went to see it and had great things to say about it. Personally I enjoyed the performance. You can see the work that was put into the performance.

It is a life story told through the eyes of an old Cuban woman. The dance troupe is all female and there is only one male who dances. If you are looking for a show with partner dancing this is definitely not the show for you which was my only disappointment. However, the female dance troupe was amazing, their choreography was well timed and executed and very clean. It was easy to see that a lot of practice went into the rehearsals and it showed.

I really enjoyed the afro-cuban movement in the choreography. There was a great deal of jazz and ballet influence to the choreography but those pieces of afro-cuban movements were beautiful to see and made me want to immediately hit the dance floor.

Would love to hear what you all thought about it so feel free to add you comments.


Salsa Dancing in the Summer

Salsa Dancing in the Summer

I am convinced that there is very little that can top salsa dancing on the streets in the summer to a live salsa band. That is what I love about Toronto in the summer. From the Jazz Festivals to the Toronto Street Festival to the Salsa on St. Clair festival, there is no shortage of great salsa being played live under the sun or the stars. Of course you have to not mind getting very hot and sweaty and remember that you can’t turn properly. However if you keep your moves simple and have lots of water on hand it is well worth the experience.

Hopefully many of you got to enjoy the salsa bands that played in Toronto in the past two weeks as part of Luminato and the Taste of Little Italy festivals. Just so you don’t miss some good events coming up in Toronto here are the main festivals with live salsa music:

The Toronto Jazz Festival – June 22nd – July 1st
Salsa on St. Clair – July 13-14th
Beaches International Jazz Festival – July 26-29th

Of course there are also the free concerts at the Harbourfront Centre, the Dundas & Yonge Square, Mel Lastman Square, the Distillery and much more.

We’ll keep you informed as the summer progressed.

Happy summer salsa dancing!

So You Think You Can Dance

So You Think You Can Dance – Salsa Routines

So now that I am finally an official blogger, I peruse the internet to see what other dance bloggers are writing about and of course it is all about the TV hit “So You Think You Can Dance”. We have a new batch of 20 finalists competing for the coveted “Favourite Dancer in the US” spot. Last week, we were privy to the first salsa routine by Lauren and Neil which didn’t go too well for the couple. If you missed the segment here it is courtesy of YouTube

I haven’t loved many of the salsa routines shown on this show. Alex Da Silva always fulfills the tricks, lifts and dips drama that we all love but I do wish there was some of the smoothness of the New York on 2 dancing involved with a little more Afro Cuban body movement and finesse. However my favourite salsa routine by Alex Da Silva took place last season when Benji (last season’s winner) danced the Black Mambo with his partner and cousin Heidi (also a finalist). Check it out…love the speed, crispness and musical accents. Very fun performance!

Regardless of the salsa routines, you can’t help but loving So You Think You Can Dance. Maybe in the future they will rotate their salsa choreographers and we can see a Frankie Martinez routine!

Salsa to Boost Your Memory?

One of my students cut out an article for me that was posted in the Toronto Star recently about someone who used salsa to boost her memory. Cathryn Jakobson Ramin who is now 50, is the author of Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife.

She was interviewed because her memory had begun to fail her and she used many differnt approaches to re-sharpen her memory including supplements, a brain-training program, cognitive-enhancing drugs – and salsa dancing.

When asked why she chose salsa dancing her response was:

“You have to recall the steps and make your body perform them, all while you’re working with a partner, paying attention to the music, and trying not to crash into other people. It takes enormous neurological firepower.”

This is the first time I have heard of someone using salsa dancing for boosting memory but I do know that salsa dancing is commonly used to treat depression. According to an article written in the Courier & Mail, studies found that patients with depression received a huge boost of confidence and contentment after they attended salsa dance classes. This make a lot of sense to me. Salsa dancing is not only exercise which makes you happier, but the social interaction, confidence building and pride of mastering a difficult task can be a great revival strategy. You can express yourself, be creative and let out all the stress and frustrations of day to day life.

Wow I think I am ready to go salsa dancing right now…Babaluu’s anyone??

Well who knew?

Well Who Knew? My First Salsa Blog!

If you had told me last year that I would decide to write a blog I would have vehemently denied it but here I am, on day 1 of the Toronto Dance Salsa Blog. The reason for my change of heart is mainly that blogs seem to be an easy medium to get information out to people worldwide especially on topics that may not have a permanent place on our website but are still very relevant and worthy of discussion. There is so much news that I have to share with everyone on the topic of dance so I hope this blog will help to keep everyone informed on anything salsa related!

I will keep this blog separate and different from Alfred and Nina’s Salsa in Review section which focuses on reviewing clubs, congresses, events and music.

I hope to have students, helpers and other salsa bloggers contribute to this blog also to share their ideas and knowledge so let me know if you would like to contribute in some way. Feedback about the blog is also greatly appreciated so thank you in advance for your thoughts and recommendations.