Monthly Archives: October 2007

Nuit Blanche – salsa!

On Sept 29th several Toronto Dance Salsa helpers and instructors were asked to teach salsa at the Nuit Blanche Festival. With an unbelievable turn out, Vince Ng, Janice Somera, Kim Robinson and Rob Hsu taught over 350 attendees how to salsa in 10 minutes. Because there were so many people coming in and out, their slogan was “Salsa in 10 Minute” and teach they did for 3 hours from 8-11pm – as hundred of people came in and enjoyed the Latin rhythms.

For those who were not part of the festival, here is some info on the Hot Spot which is where the salsa dancing was held:

“Hot Spot is an all-night salsa dance party with lessons, where Colombia’s current political crisis will be evoked through sound, video and text, questioning our role as spectators, dancers and consumers of “Latino” culture and images in the First World.”

Thanks to Rob for sharing this information and to Janice for the photo!

My Review – Feel the Noise

Yesterday you got to read Reshma’s review of Feel the Noise. She gave a great breakdown of the movie and really showed it in a positive manner. I am not that kind, I think :)

Evan and I, along with Velina and Galin, checked out the movie Sunday evening. We all had very similar opinions. Basically there was a huge disappointment that the movie had almost no dancing. We weren’t expecting the movie to be full of dancing but in the reviews most of the scenes shown were dance related and, as always, dancers love to see dance movies. That is the only reason we went to see the movie. There was almost no dancing and what was shown was the same booty grind/roll move in every scene. There was a one minute scene which had some better moves but it didn’t last long and when compared to such recent dance movies as “Step Up” and “You Got Served”, there is almost no comparison. Check out the final dance scene from Step Up by clicking here. Check out the first scene from You Got Served which had amazing hip hop dancing by clicking here.

Most dance movies are cheesy but if the dancing is entertaining, most of us don’t care. This movie, which had almost no dancing, was particularly cheesy. The plot was obvious, there was very little comedy, good drama or even good romance to keep us interested.

I was excited to read Reshma’s opinion because it does show that one’s opinion is just that: their opinion. We would love to hear what you thought of the movie so don’t hesitate to let us know!

Reshma’s Review of Feel the Noise

Hi Everyone!

Reshma Ramjattan, a regular guest writer for my blog, went to see Feel the Noise this weekend and has written a review for you all to check out. I also went to see the movie over the weekend – my review is definitely different so I will write my thoughts tomorrow and allow you to see a couple of different reviews of the movie.

Enjoy!

Feel the Noise Review by Reshma Ramjattan

“Hey everyone,

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving long weekend. I had a chance to check out Feel The Noise on Monday and it was really good.

Jennifer Lopez produced it and Omarion from the R&B group B2K is one of the main stars. The movie is about the rise of reggaeton music in today’s society and its Puerto Rican roots. Omarion’s character Rob is an aspiring hip-hop artist and he moves from New York to San Juan to live with his estranged father. There he meets his half brother Javi, who is an online DJ. Javi introduces Rob to reggaeton and takes him out to a few clubs. Rob hadn’t heard of this type of music before because all he had known was hip-hop, being from the streets. Rob immediately falls in love with the music and he and Javi decide to collaborate their individual music styles and talent to hopefully get signed to a record deal. Along the way Rob meets Javi’s friend C.C., an aspiring dancer, and they all help each other follow their own paths and believe in their dreams.

The thing I loved most about this movie was the dancing and the music. The club scenes made me want to go dancing right after the movie was done. I went to see it with my cousin and we were both dancing in our seats the whole time. I’ve always loved reggaeton, but I didn’t realize how popular it was. After seeing this movie, I saw just how big of a sensation it is, not just in Puerto Rico but everywhere. And the nice thing about this genre of music is that, like salsa, you don’t have to be Latin or speak Spanish to appreciate and enjoy it. It’s all about the rhythm and how it makes you feel.

The one thing I didn’t like about this movie was that, at the beginning, it seemed a lot like other dance movies I had seen before. An underprivileged kid from the ghetto is an aspiring musician looking to be a big star; he/she gets into trouble and someone rescues them and they turn their life around etc. But I quickly realized that this movie was different; it was really about the love and passion for the music and how it impacts peoples’ lives.

The thing I love about music is that it unifies mankind. No matter what race, religion or age you are and regardless of where you come from, everyone can enjoy the same music and dance to the same song. I think that was the biggest message in the movie. At the beginning, Rob didn’t know anything outside of his own surroundings in NY. All he knew was hip-hop. But by the end of the movie, he had found a new love for reggaeton although he didn’t speak a word of Spanish.

I definitely think Feel The Noise is worth checking out and I know you’ll find yourself dancing during the movie. I really liked it and I think you will too.”

Tango after Salsa

I read today this interesting blog about a salsa dancer who went to try Tango. Click here to read the post.

She had a lot of interesting points for anyone thinking of taking up Tango after dancing salsa as I do. Tango is the only other partner dance that I am very interested in and would love to really immerse myself in one day to learn fully. But salsa dancers beware, the dance is complete different from salsa and if you think that your salsa experience will be useful, you may be surprised to hear that it can be a hindrance in many areas.

Abha states in her blog that “Tango is the complete opposite of salsa. In salsa, all your energy is out there — wild, fun and sexy. In tango, you have to contain all your energy inside you — to feel powerful, intense, smooth and seductive. Your look alone should have the power to kill.”

Evan and I took a private Argentine Tango lesson last year and I found it to be exactly this. My hips/knees which work automatically now were not useful – I had to hold them back from moving. Our hand hold was completely different, the music was completely different, the stance, the energy, the lead – all completely different. You have to try to unlearn everything you have gained from salsa, throw it out, and start new.

I have to say I still loved it – loved the challenge and intensity. I would definitely recommend the dance once you feel you need a challenge. I wouldn’t do it in conjunction with learning salsa as it may mess up both the dances for you. Master salsa first and then go on to the Tango challenge. But be warned, don’t expect it to be easy!

Press Release re: World Championships

I received this press release regarding the World Salsa Athletes competing at Disney in Florida this December. Just in case anyone was considering attending, here is some info:

Press Release

For Immediate Publication
Contact: Blanca Lasalle
Creative Link Inc.
212.684.6001 ext. 101
blanca@creativelinkny.com

World Salsa Athletes Compete at Disney
Dancers from 40 countries will dance-off for the title of World Salsa Championship

New York, NY – September 27, 2007 – This December, athletes from over 40 countries will convene at Walt Disney World to dance-off for the title of World Salsa Champion. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, located at Walt Disney World Resort©, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., will be the host site for the Third World Salsa Championships from December 12 through 16. The competition will be broadcast by ESPN International and Transworld International, under the direction of noted producer Rob Beiner, winner of 12 EMMY awards.

“We are thrilled to be hosting an international event of this magnitude that also delivers world-class entertainment,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of Walt Disney World Minority Business Development. “Not to mention, our alliances with international organizations allow us to showcase Central Florida to multicultural businesses that will impact the region’s economy.”

Hailed as the Olympics of Salsa dancing, the World Salsa Championship gathers the winning couples and groups from different salsa competitions from Australia, Argentina, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Holland, Hong-Kong, Italy, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Peru, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, UAE, United States, Puerto Rico and Venezuela to defend their titles in their respective divisions.

The four main divisions dominating this enclave of professional athletic-dancers are those of the LA style “On 1″ emphasizing the first beat of the music; the NY style “On 2″ emphasizing the second beat of the music; “Cabaret” which combines Salsa dancing with tricks, cartwheels, and flips; and “Team” where 6 or more dancers, up to 20 at once, perform at the same time.

Cultivating this worldwide Salsa dance movement is Salsa connoisseur Albert Torres who has managed to create a world dance championship with a culminating event for professional and amateurs alike.

The Third Annual World Salsa Championship will pay tribute to the legendary Palladium Days including rhythms and music of The Big Three Orchestras in three consecutive evenings (playing Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez and Machito) and culminating with a tribute to the FANIA All Star. The Grand Opening will feature music by the legendary group El Gran Combo, nominated to the 2007 Latin Grammy edition.

About the World Salsa Championship and Salsa Seven Salsa Championship was organized by a group of salsa lovers under the leadership of salsa celebrity Albert Torres. The “Salsa Seven” group is committed to producing the most memorable music and dance event in the history of salsa. Salsa Seven is deeply committed to educating the public about this wonderful Latin rhythm we call salsa. Other members of the Salsa Seven Inc. include salsa promoters Leo Tizol and Willie Torres.

About Rob Beiner.
Beiner has produced or directed more than 2,000 live, cable or pay-per-view sports and entertainment broadcasts in leading television networks, such as ABC Sports, CBS, NBC Sports, USA Network and ESPN. His successful career as producer and director includes broadcasts of seven Olympic Games, important boxing championships such as the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield match, NCAA basketball and football games, Comedy Central and the Kentucky Derby.

Willie Colon Concert!


I was very excited to hear that Willie Colon, a salsa legend, will be playing a concert at the Docks on Saturday, November 3rd.

If you had a chance to see El Cantante you would have seen Willie highlighted in the movie. Many thought he wasn’t given the proper credit for his amazing talent and his part in bringing salsa to mass popularity. Check out the his impressive bio below to get to know this artist a little better. It was sent to me by Sylvia Rodriguez, one of the promoters for the event. For more information on the concert please call: 416-605-1281/416-567-2835 or check out their website at www.cocolatino.ca. Prices range from $45-$100 per ticket.

“Willie Colon Biography
Career, Biography, Famous Works, and Award

New York-born musician Willie Colon has had enormous influence on contemporary Latin jazz. One of the pioneers of salsa, in the early 1970s he worked with legendary Puerto Rican singer Hector Lavoe (who died of AIDS in the late 1980s) to create this distinctive rhythm-charged blend of traditional Cuban dance music with the American big band sound. Strongly influenced by the forceful style of trombonists Barry Rogers and Jose Rodrigues (both of the Eddie Palmieri orchestra), Colon is also credited with being the first bandleader to put only trombones in the band’s front line. He has collaborated extensively with other leading Latin musical artists, most notably Ruben Blades and Celia Cruz. Although he has remained active on the Latin music scene, Colon has become increasingly involved in politics, running unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in New York’s 17th District to win a congressional seat in 1994, and in 2001 for public advocate of New York City. He also spent close to a year playing a recurring character in one of Mexico’s most popular telenovelas(soap operas).

Colon was born William Anthony Colon Roman on April 28, 1950, in the Bronx, New York, the grandson of Puerto Rican immigrants. His early interest in music was nurtured by his grandmother, Antonia, who sang Puerto Rican folk songs to lull him to sleep. Colon also traced his devotion to his cultural and ethnic roots to his grandmother’s accounts of family life in Puerto Rico, as well as her strong beliefs and personality. When he was 12 years old, Colon began studying the trumpet and within a short time had put together a band; he switched from trumpet to trombone soon afterward. The teenaged Colon and his band were discovered in 1967 by Al Santiago, the late founder of Alegre Records; Santiago produced Colon’s first recording session.

Unfortunately, Santiago’s new record label, Futura, on which he had hoped to launch Colon and company, folded before the deal could be done. However, waiting in the wings was renowned bandleader Johnny Pacheco, also in search of new talent for his foundling label, Fania. Pacheco, however, was less than impressed with the lead singer for Colon’s band and quickly recommended a replacement–Hector Lavoe.
At the outset Lavoe was less than enthused about working with Colon but wanted so desperately to be recorded that he accepted the offer. Their first collaboration, a 1967 album entitled El malo, was panned by the critics, who objected to the recording’s raw, amateurish sound. This did nothing, however, to dissuade the record-buying public, which found the raunchy new sound appealing despite its technical flaws. In time, Colon’s band, most of whose members were teenagers like Colon himself–including future instrumental stars trombonist Joe Santiago (he later switched to bass), pianist Mark Dimond, and percussionists Pablo Rosario and Nicky Marrero–was credited with launching the “New York sound.”

Two years later Colon crossed paths with Panamanian-born singer/songwriter Ruben Blades. Each would play an important role in the other’s career in the years to come. They first met during a concert tour made by Colon’s band in support of their hit single “Che Che Cole” from the album Cosa nuestra. After playing a date in Panama City, Colon and his band members were backstage when Blades popped in to meet them. (In addition to Colon and Lavoe, the band at that time consisted of Louis Romero on timbale, Milton Cardona on congas, Jose Mangual Jr. on drums, Santi Gonzalez on bass, William Campbell on trombone, and Jose Torres on keyboards.) Taken with the band’s sound, Blades gave them a handful of his latest compositions. It would be a few years, however, before Colon and Blades collaborated on a larger scale.

In the mid-1970s Colon’s band broke up. On the surface, Colon claimed the decision was motivated by his need for a break from the pressures of touring as well as a desire to expand his musical knowledge through further study. However, insiders suggested that Lavoe’s increasing problems with addiction were a significant factor. Colon had also become increasingly involved in producing records and was planning to produce an album that blended Puerto Rican folkloric themes with some of the new influences that had caught his interest, including Brazilian music. The project reunited the former band, vocalist Lavoe, Yomo Toro, and a handful of studio musicians. For this transitional effort, entitled The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Colon asked Blades to contribute the vocals for “El cazanguero,” which Blades had written. At the time, Blades was in New York and working as a member of Ray Barretto’s orchestra.

In 1976 Blades left the Barretto band, and shortly afterward recorded his first album as Colon’s lead vocalist. The album, Matiendo mano, represented a breakthrough for both men. Because critics had carped that Blades’ vocal style and timbre too closely mirrored that of Cheo Feliciano, the singer worked closely with Colon to create a new singing style. On the instrumental side, Colon’s band, now fronted by four trombones, had an exciting and elegant new sound, further enhanced by the thoughtful arrangements of the late Louie Ramirez, Sonny Bravo, Luis “Perico” Ortiz, and Colon himself. The album was a resounding critical and popular success.

Following up on their success with Matiendo mano, Colon and Blades released Siembra, which became one of the biggest selling salsa albums ever released. At about this same time Colon produced a number of albums for Cuban songstress Celia Cruz (Only They Could Have Done This Albumand Celia & Willie) and Puerto Rican salsa singer Ismael Miranda (Doble energia), as well as most of the recordings of his former vocalist, Hector Lavoe. In the early 1980s, Colon and Blades teamed up again to release a two-part Latin suite entitled Maestra vida, which showcased the full spectrum of Blades’ compositions in the context of a Broadway-type musical drama. In 1981 the two collaborated on Fantasmas, on which Colon performed solo vocals, and Canciones del solar de los aburridos, which contained such hit singles as “Tiburon,” “Ligia Elena,” and “Te estan buscando.” Two years later Colon and Blades worked together again on the soundtrack of a motion picture entitled The Last Fight. It was to be their last collaboration for several years.

As their recording careers progressed, both Colon and Blades became upset and frustrated with the treatment they received from Fania record executives. They left the label, despite Blades’ remaining contractual commitment to another three albums, and Colon’s to another six. After disappointing experiences with both the RCA and Sonotone labels, however, Colon returned to Fania in the late 1980s to produce the last two albums for which he was obligated. He collaborated again with Celia Cruz on The Winners, released in 1987, and in 1988 released Top Secrets, which included his hit single, “El gran varon.” Colon also produced Hector Lavoe’s last album, Hector Lavoe Strikes Back. Despite their claims to the contrary, however, it later became clear that the relationship between the two artists had deteriorated dramatically.
Beginning in 1989 and running into the mid-1990s, Colon worked for the Sony label as both an artist and a producer, releasing three solo albums, American Color in 1990, Honra y cultura in 1991, and Hecho en Puerto Rico in 1993. Although he was increasingly discouraged by Sony’s lack of promotion for his efforts, Colon was persuaded to take part in a Sony project that reunited him with longtime collaborator Blades. That album, Tras la tormenta, released in 1995, was an artistic disappointment, largely because the tracks of each were recorded separately and later merged in the recording studio. They didn’t even get together for the album cover photo session.

In the latter half of the 1990s, Colon moved his home base to Mexico City, recording for Azteca Records there and later appearing for a time in a recurring role in the television Azteca telenovela (soap opera), Demasiado Corazon. A CD by the same name was a big success in Latin markets and was later released in the United States. Although he had chosen to live in Mexico City, Colon remained keenly interested in American political developments, and he returned frequently to the land of his birth.
In addition to their passion for music, Colon and Blades shared a profound interest in politics. In 1994, both men ran unsuccessfully for office in their respective countries. Blades fell short in his bid for the presidency of Panama, while Colon failed to win the Democratic nomination for New York’s 17th District congressional seat. Both men have used their music as a vehicle for their political philosophies. Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza banned Colon’s songs in that country in the 1970s, and Colon has been arrested a number of times in Latin American countries for his outspoken views. In 1993, after performing at President Clinton’s inaugural festivities, Colon was invited by Clinton to join the president’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He turned down the invitation so that he could devote his full attention to his bid for the congressional seat.

Colon reunited once again with Blades in the fall of 1998 for a smashingly successful concert at La Carlota Airport in Caracas, Venezuela–more than 140,000 tickets were sold. His political consciousness was aroused by the controversy surrounding the American military’s use of Vieques, an island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, for bombing practice. In 2001 Colon mounted a campaign for public advocate in New York City. In the end, he threw his support to former opponent Betsy Gotbaum, who won the job in a runoff election in October of 2001.

Away from the concert hall and political arena, Colon enjoys a quiet family life with his wife Julia and their four sons. Among his interests are flying and computer programming. His contribution to Latin music–and more specifically the unique sound of salsa–has been immeasurable.

by Don Amerman

Willie Colon’s Career

Began studying trumpet, age 12; formed his own band, age 14; switched from trumpet to trombone shortly thereafter; recorded first album, El malo, for Fania, a salsa record label, 1967; recorded extensively with leading Latin artists, including Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades, and Tito Puente; helped introduce American audiences to salsa and other Latin sounds through his work with David Byrnes on the 1989 album Rei momo; ran unsuccessfully for congressional seat.
Famous Works
• Selected discography
• El malo, Fania, 1968.
• The Hustler, Fania, 1968.
• Guisando, Fania, 1969.
• Cosa nuestra, Fania, 1971.
• Asalto navideno, Fania, 1972.
• The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Fania, 1975.
• (With Ruben Blades) Metiendo mano, Fania, 1977.
• (With Ruben Blades) Siembra, Fania, 1978.
• (With Ismael Miranda) Doble energia, Fania, 1980.
• (With Ruben Blades) Canciones del solar de los aburridos, Fania, 1981.
• Honra y cultura, Sony International, 1991.
• Hecho en Puerto Rico, Sony International, 1993.
• (With Ruben Blades) Tras la tormenta, Sony International, 1995.
• Demasiado Corazon, Lederes Entertainment Group, 1998.

Montana Outing

It was great to see so many people out for our first outing of the semester to Montana Lounge. We had close to 200 people attend the outing with many new beginner faces – thank you to all who came!

The evening began with our lessons. Kimberly and Emely took the beginner students into a separate room and taught them salsa basics, the Cuban inside turn and some Suzy Qs – very sexy! Evan and I taught the level 2s and up a difficult level 4 type combination. It was great to see everyone getting the combo and trying it out during the evening.

After some great social dancing we had our Amateur Salsa Competition Champions, Alfred and Nina, perform for us their winning routine. It was fun and energetic with some great tricks and dips – very entertaining!

It was Anthony Fajardo’s birthday (he has been a helper with us for quite a while) and we tired him out with a birthday dance.

When I left at 10:30pm the dance floor was still hopping – great to see everyone enjoying the evening so much!

Next outing: Plaza Flamingo either Oct 12th or 19th.