Monthly Archives: October 2007

Kids and Salsa

I get frequent phone calls from parents who want to enroll their children into our salsa classes. So I just wanted to clarify and answer questions for parents and kids/teens.

Our classes are adult salsa classes. It doesn’t mean we haven’t had older children or teens in the class but it is focused on adult learning. There are a few dance schools that offer salsa for children specifically so children dance with children which works well.

We have on occasion had a parent come with their child and they didn’t rotate. This is fine. We have also had parents enroll their teenage child (14 was the youngest) with the understanding that the teen would rotate with adult students. We have also had two teenagers sign up together as partners and they didn’t rotate. All of these scenarios can work and did work very well for these families.

Salsa is a sensual dance. If it is a children’s only class that element can be take out. In an adult class there would be some focus on this. As long as parents are aware of this, it can be a great learning experience for kids and teens!

Halloween Party at Montana’s!

It was such a fun night at Montana’s last night – thank you to everyone who came out, dressed up and enjoyed the evening with us!

We had almost 250 people in attendance and when I left people were still unstoppable, dancing the night away.

The evening started off with 3 separate lessons. Kimberly and Velina taught the absolute beginners the salsa basics with turns. Rob and Sara taught the level 1s a sexy routine and Evan and I challenged the level 2s and up.

Our former student, helper and club instructor Kerem made his DJing debut last night as DJ K and he rocked the house with my favourite salsa songs. The feedback was excellent and we will be sure to have DJ K come back and DJ for us in the future.

I would say 80% of those who came last night had a costume and it was amazing to see. Over 30 people entered the best costume competition and with 7 finalists it was a very tough call. However Roger Chandhok won the competition as a remarkable twin copy of Michael Jackson, moon walk and all! Roger won two tickets to see the Willie Colon concert next Saturday at the Docks.

It was also the birthday of Sara, one of our instructors, and we all celebrated salsa style with a 2 part salsa dance – Happy Birthday Sara!

Photos will hopefully be up by tomorrow so check the events section of the website to see the awesome costumes!

Uh Uh – Hygiene and Salsa!

I have recently had a few students request that I remind everyone about that delicate subject of hygiene. Considering how close and touchy the dance is and how hot and sweaty we can get, I know this can be a useful subject. I wrote a whole article on salsa etiquette. Click here to read it in full.

Here is the hygiene excerpt from that article:

“You do not want to be the male or female who others do not want to dance with because of hygiene. Knowing that salsa is a close body contact type of sport where you touch others in a hot, sweaty environment, please be considerate and adhere to the following guidelines. Fresh breath is a must. Bring breath mints or gum to any dancing event. Antiperspirants and/or deodorants are also a must. For excessive sweating, try Drysol. It can be bought at any Shopper’s Drug Mart and really works in controlling sweat. Some people bring a change of shirts if they know they are going to perspire a lot. Others use talc powder for damp palms. Some bring small towels or handkerchiefs/bandanas. Take breaks often and keep yourself hydrated. Avoid heavy cologne, perfumes or oils as they can get musty in that environment and others may be allergic.

Following these tips will allow the salsa experience to remain a positive one for everyone involved. Remember that good manners, respect for others and awareness of the environment you are in will go a long way.”

How often should you dance?

Many of you are just starting out learning to dance salsa and are curious as to how much time you should be spending dancing. I guess that depends on how fast you want to improve.

If all you do is take a one hour salsa lesson once a week, you will likely not learn too quickly and it will be a little difficult for you to go salsa dancing and feel comfortable and smooth.

The general rule of the thumb is 3-4hrs of practice for every 1 hour of class time. That may seem like a lot of time but an evening of salsa dancing at one of our outings or a local club will fly by and before you know it you have put in the required pratice time without it feeling like homework! That is the beauty of salsa dancing – it is so much fun and once you go out a couple of times and get used to the salsa scene you will find it fun, social, energetic and it will enhance your life.

Other ways of practicing include dancing at home with a partner or on your own. You can use a DVD or just a mirror and some music. You have YouTube to assist you visually and you should try to listen to salsa music wherever you go. Try a Saturday practice session at Trinity Church or our own Monday practice session. Go on the forums and see where the students are heading to and post questions for your knowledge. Really get involved and you will find an amazing new world that is social, musical, fun and exciting!

La Excelencia

Ozzy who is one of my level 4 students and a new helper in our Saturday classes recently discovered a great new salsa band. From New York City La Excelencia has just introduced their debut album and it is exciting, creative and very dance-able. Click here to check out their website.

Below is their bio for anyone interested in learning about this new band…

“Those who witnessed up close and personal the “Salsa Explosion of the 1970′s” in New York City and Puerto Rico remember and agree that the majority of the musicians and bandleaders were mostly youngsters.

Now, inspired by the masters of salsa is the new group from New York City that goes by the name of “La Excelencia.” Percussionists Jose Vazquez-Cofresi and Julian Silva formed the band, featuring a young ensemble that would appeal to their generation, while performing and creating “salsa dura” (hardcore salsa) with a positive social message.

This debut CD “Salsa Con Conciencia” (salsa with a conscience) delivers 10 original scores, showcasing the versatility and depth of the band. The tracks swing with beautiful harmonies and powerful arrangements of free-flowing horns and lively percussions.

Lead vocalists Rene Leslie and Edwin Perez command the spotlight with arresting readings full of social messages that enlighten the listeners to everyday situations in peoples’ lives.

Tasty choruses complete each track, delivering high-octane rhythms, without losing essence and true roots of salsa. These young-bloods are the real thing. -Rudolph Mangual (Latin Beat Magazine)”

Let us know if you have discovered any new salsa bands and we will be sure to check them out!

Monday Practice Session

We are excited to bring back our popular Toronto Dance Salsa weekly practice session. We tested the idea out this summer with a Tuesday practice which went very well. We had approximately 30-40 people attend the sessions each week and we expect this semester will be just as popular.

The session came about due to the students’ requests for a private place to casually practice moves, ask questions and learn comfortably. So we have scheduled Kimberly Robinson, one of our instructors and 6 helpers and they are available to answer questions, catch up on a move and dance with attendees.

Here are the details of our fall semester salsa practice session:

When: Mondays from Oct 29th to Dec 10th – 7 weeks
Time: 9:00 – 10:00 pm
Location: Original Studio at the Adelaide Club – Bay & Adelaide on the concourse level of the First Canadian Place
Cost: $4 per session, or all 7 sessions for $20

You do not need to sign up in advance – it is a drop in structure.


Switching instructors

I always worry about getting other instructors’ students and vice versa. For example, if a student took level 1 with one of my other instructors and then moves to my level 2, I worry about the switch. Mainly because your first salsa experience shapes your expectations. You develop a loyalty to your instructor, the helpers and even the environment. And it can be difficult to then have to adapt to a completely different environment. Even in the same school with the same syllabus and the same structure, we are all different.

When my students experience a new class, many times they will confide in me that it was hard to get used to. I say this now because many of you have either new instructors as you move up or take make up classes with other instructors. Try not to compare. You will always have your preferences. Instead try to see the strengths in each instructor, helper and environment. Each has unique strengths which will assist you on your salsa journey. One may be better at breaking the move down, but the other may be more musical and can open your mind to new ideas or another may be more fun and inject a differente feeling to the dance.

I always recommend experiencing multiple instructors. I myself have been lucky to experience instruction from many different types of instructors. Each is so different. I travelled to New York to do a private lesson with Frankie Martinez. We almost didn’t dance for the entire hour – we just talked. It was extremely helpful. I did a 1.5 hour Afro Cuban class with him later in which he didn’t say one word – I found it an amazing experience. I have had instructors who were opposite and spent the whole time with detailed explanations and those were great too.

Don’t get me wrong – I always have my preferences and my favourites. But I know that I can learn something from almost everyone so the next time you find yourself doing a make up class or learning from a new instructor keep an open mind!

So You Think You Can Dance Canada!

Hey Canada – so you think you can dance? If so, you’re going to have a chance to prove yourselves! CTV along with 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions have just announced that they will develop, produce and broadcast a Canadian version of So You Think You Can Dance.

As you probably know So You Think You Can Dance is one of North American’s most popular show and, just in Canada alone, received an audience of 1.25 million viewers this past summer. Now Canada joins the US, Australia, Poland, Malaysia and Scandinavia with their own show.

There is no information available yet that I have seen to let us know when the first season will air but click here to read the full press release.

So will we see salsa dancers audition for this show? It is a possibility. I haven’t seen many so far but you never know. If you are a salsa dancer remember that you will have to pick up choreography really easily in every genre of dance. That rules me out :)

I will post more info on this as it develops!

Evan’s Corporate Experience

Here is a great article by Evan about his corporate salsa experience…

Salsa in the Corporate Environment

By: Evan Carmichael

Salsa dancing is quickly becoming a popular activity for corporate events as human resource departments are looking for ways to engage their employees in a fun environment that also creates a positive team building experience.

Last week I began one of five lessons with a group of employees who work at a major hotel chain in North America. They wanted to reward the staff members who have been working there for a number of years and have them learn and present a dance routine to their co-workers.

They brought together front line staff with managers and it was an excellent bonding experience for everyone involved. We went through Merengue and introduced the basic steps and a number of introductory patterns. They picked it up quickly and by the end of the hour were dancing full songs on their own.

It’s amazing how much confidence you can instill in people by teaching them how to dance. Most of the employees we worked with today had never taken a dance class before and were scared that they would embarrass themselves. At the end of the class they were cheering and left with a newfound confidence in themselves.

If your company is looking for a great teambuilding experience that is fun and brings people together why not suggest bringing in a dance instructor to teach them the basics and inject some excitement into the workplace!

J Lo & Marc Anthony Concert Review by Reshma

Here is a great review from Reshma who went to see the J Lo/Marc Anthony Concert last week…

“Hello salseros/salseras!

I went to see Jennifer Lopez (otherwise known as J.Lo) and Marc Anthony live in concert at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night and all I have to say is: WOW!

It was J.Lo’s first-ever tour and although the concert started an hour late, it was well worth the wait. Marc opened the show with a 75-minute beautiful performance of some of his Spanish and English hits, such as “ I Need To Know”, “Hasta Que Te Conoci” and “Mi Gente” and “Aguanile”, two songs from his recent movie, El Cantante, which he costars in with J.Lo. Wearing a very classic ensemble of black pants and a white shirt, and accompanied by a 15-piece salsa band, Marc’s passion for his music, his fans and his wife were apparent. Throughout his songs, he interacted with fans, blew kisses and collected various flags given to him. Before he serenaded us with “You Sang to Me”, he told the story of how he had written the song years ago for a cute and adorable girl…who is now his wife. As the stadium was pitch black and the lone spotlight was on him to sing “Preciosa”, the crowd gave him such a loud standing ovation, the ACC was shaking. I was blown away by how good of a live singer Marc was. His voice was so beautiful, every song he performed gave me chills. You could tell how passionate he is when he sings, it’s like the words are coming from his soul. And you can tell he means what he’s singing about. I’m sure every woman in there was wishing that a guy would sing to them like that!

After Marc’s performance, I thought he would be a hard act to follow, but J.Lo didn’t disappoint. She opened with her new hit “Do It Well” from her new album, Brave. She had a lot of flashy pyrotechnics in her set which added to her colourful outfits. She had a few wardrobe changes throughout the night, from her blue and gold bell-bottom opening number to a black and gold sequin hip-hop outfit for the remix version of “I’m Real” to a green shiny outfit for her performance of her salsa/pop song “I’m Loud”. She took us down memory lane by singing her very first hit song “If You Had My Love”, which came out eight years ago, “Waiting For Tonight” and “Jenny From The Block” which was released during her Bennifer days. With images of a burning car in the background and fire shooting from the ground, she sang “Que Hiciste” from her sole Spanish-language album, a song about a woman scorned. She also introduced “Hold It, Don’t Drop It”, a fusion of jazz, rock and pop from her new album. She sang her heart out and danced her booty off. She didn’t dance as much as I thought she would (maybe because she’s pregnant?) but the routines that she did with her backup dancers were hot. And let me tell you, the girl can salsa like it’s nobody’s business! She shimmied and shook all over the stage, driving the crowd wild. And all the while, she looked absolutely stunning.

At the end of her performance, she and Marc serenade the crowd with “Por Arriesgarnos” and “No Me Ames” and shared a sweet little kiss. It was a beautiful and very fitting encore to a great concert.”