Monthly Archives: March 2008

To Partner or Not to Partner – Pt 1?

This is a long post so I am breaking it up into 2 posts…

Part 1:

What will make you become a better salsa dancer faster – learning with a partner or learning on your own with a variety of rotating dancers and students? This is the question I get asked often and everyone has an opinion.

The truth is that it depends on the person, the effort and the situation. There are pros and cons in each scenario.

I was lucky to experience both scenarios. My first year of dancing was on my own. I went salsa dancing nightly and, while I had my favourite people to dance with which changed monthly, I didn’t have a main partner. This was an excellent experience in my opinion. I learned to follow every type of lead – whether the lead was gentle or firm, the timing on 1 or on another beat, the Cubans, the Columbians, those from Chile and Ecuador, those who danced LA Style, New York Style, it didn’t matter. When you dance with 20 partners a night 7 days a week you get to be very versatile. I got to know my preferences, get inspired constantly by new dancers and I was always left with the feeling that dancing was always fresh and new.

After the first year of salsa I wanted to complete and perform and obviously this can’t be done unless you get a dance partner. It worked out that I met a dance partner at one of the local clubs and he had the same goals as I did.

Although we both knew very little in the whole scope of things we were very eager and serious to learn. We practiced daily, took some group lessons, private lesson, workshops and attended congresses together and very shortly we looked sleeker and more professional. The partnership really assisted in having someone to practice with regularly, someone who would give you honest feedback and someone to challenge you to move to the next level. This experience was also excellent and really made a difference in my confidence, styling, body movement, show-ability and much more. Note however that my following skills were reduced considerably because you tend to compensate for your partner and memorize moves, back lead, etc.

To be continued on Monday!!!

New Venues Wanted

Some students are asking if we can having outings at different locations, maybe closer north around mid town. We would love to hold outings at different venues but it is difficult to find for many reasons.

The first is the amount of people. We need a venue where at least 250 people can dance comfortably. That is no small feat. Most clubs can fit 250 people but not for salsa dancing. Much more space is needed for dancing and the floors have to allow for our type of dancing (hardwood is the best for this).

Second of all, we need it to be TTC accessible. Preferably on the subway or street car with street parking in the area. We want to keep it in Toronto or North York for this reason as it is much more central and more people can attend.

Third of all, we need a place that can offer us a Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening. Most places don’t want to do this as salsa dancers don’t spend a lot of money at the bar and so they make more money on regular club nights then salsa evenings. We need a club or restaurant or community centre/church with reasonable expectations that can offer us space on one of these evenings.

If you know of a place, please let us know. We would love to expand to a few more areas especially in mid town.

Happy dancing!

Friday’s Outing to Plaza Flamingo

We have been really lucky to have so many awesome outings this semester. Last Friday was no exception as we had over 250 people attend the outing at Plaza Flamingo with a special performance by our helper performance team.

We were quite worried that the snow would keep everyone away. This was the 3rd outing this semester that was effected by the snow storms in Toronto. However, even the storm couldn’t keep our salsa friends away!

We started the night with 3 lessons. Kimberly and Mark taught the absolute beginner class, Emely and Rob taught the level 1 class, and Evan and I taught the level 2 and up class. Each was very well attended and, although the combos were difficult as always, our students rose up to the challenge.

At 11:15pm the helper group was announced by Caryl. The couples performing were:

1. David & Katie
2. Khemara & Kelly
3. Alex & Ildi
4. Manuel & Nicole
5. Barry & Carolina
6. George & Pansy
7. Mark & Stella

It was amazing to see the confidence in this performance. Many of the helpers had performed at least once if not twice before now and that bit of added experience makes a huge difference. I was so proud of all the performers and Caryl for creating such a great choreography and having the courage to see it through. Hopefully it has inspired many of the students to one day perform themselves.

Our next outings are confirmed:
Sunday March 16th at 7pm at El Rancho
Friday March 28th at 9:30pm at Plaza Flamingo

See you all then!

Nuevotec Productions

I came across a great salsa website that I think you would all benefit from called Nuevotec Productions. They have a ton of video interviews with some of the best salsa performers and instructors in the world.

What I like about this website is that they have started creating documentaries that you can view online. Their first documentary is about couples competing in the World Salsa Championships. It is an interesting viewing of the lives of serious salsa competitors. I loved seeing Darlin Garcia featured in the documentary. He is a wonderful dancer from Philadelphia and co-founder of Art in Motion. Four or so years ago when I used to attend a lot of congresses he was one of my favourite people to dance with – full of energy and enthusiasm. Glad to see he is so doing so well.

To see a trailer of the documentary, click here. There seems to be many pieces of the video cut into small segments so that they could upload them onto the website. It is very interesting to hear the competitors discussing what it takes to compete. Hopefully any of our students who are interested in competing in our next competition can view it and get some ideas and pointers about the sport.

I will peruse the website in more detail and highlight some of the interviews I enjoyed most.