Monthly Archives: April 2008

So Much Work So Little Time

Well who knew it would be this much work to get a studio ready in a month? I am excited to say that I will be taking possession of our new studio at Empress Walk tomorrow (Thursday) and renovation begin same day.

Now it may sound like a simple process but preparing a retail space is hard work! You won’t believe how many logistical issues there are with every detail. Just the signs for the outside of the mall and the inside took me weeks to figure out. So many regulations regarding the size, type, material, brackets and anything else you can think of for the signage and everything has to pass approval. Needless to say, I know very little about choosing floors, mirrors, signs, cabinetry, soundproofing, underpadding, etc, etc.

Still it is a very exciting time with so many great ideas on how we can use the space to promote and encourage dancing in Toronto. I am most excited about the weekly salsa party (called a “social”) that we will be hosting every Sunday afternoon/evening in the studio. We will also be keeping everyone informed of our grand opening party which should be sometime at the end of May.

Until then any of you are or know decorators, flooring or mirror experts or anything else that may assist, please let me know! I need all the help I can get!

Part #3 of Ana’s Interview from Masacote

Hopefully you got to read the other two posts about Ana Tinajero Massicot from Masacote Entertainment, a very popular salsa school and performance troupe. Here is another answer from her interview:

SG – “What are the most important actions that students can take to see improvement?”

ATM – “First and most importantly, practice what you learn from class, both in a group and on your own. I know for me practicing in a group of 3 was very helpful as I always found it motivating. Plus, I could ask someone to take a look at what I was doing and see if they saw what I might be doing wrong. Practicing on your own is also good though since there are some things we feel less self conscious about practicing alone.

Now, the key to practicing is to focus on certain things – such as spinning, body movement, social dancing, etc. Don’t try to do everything in one day. That is the downfall for most people. If you don’t find a focus, it could just end up being a waste of time. If you’re not sure what to focus on, then I’d highly recommend taking privates to help you target.

Another really great action is to tape yourself on video every couple months. You can literally document your improvement this way. The truth is that if we don’t have an awareness in our bodies, we will never really understand what people are trying to tell us to do or not to do unless we see it for ourselves. That is the beauty of video.

Now, that doesn’t mean have someone follow you around with a camera. lol Just bring a camera to practice and ask a friend to tape you social dancing or just improvising to footwork (a great substitution if you don’t have someone to lead you). These days, photo cameras or phones usually all take videos, so it’s not as hard to come by one. :)

I never had a camera when I started, but I was lucky that some friends did and once in a while a friend would give me a video of me social dancing that I didn’t know existed. It opened so many new doors for me…I would literally cringe at the first videos I saw of myself. I was doing so much I didn’t like, but all the corrections people were giving me started to make sense. When I would see subsequent videos, I would see the difference in my dancing and even more that I wanted to correct.

In the end, all these early videos served as motivation for me when I would get frustrated or hit a rut later on. Sometimes going back to the first videos of yourself and seeing how far you’ve come can really help to focus you once again. Here are some of the earliest salsa videos I have of myself…Maybe it will motivate someone else:

http://www.masacoteentertainment.com/videos/anaprogression/index.html

Thanks Ana for the advice and sharing your first videos. I still think your first videos are wonderful but the progression is definitely notable and inspiring for those who feel they have reached a plateau!

More interview questions with Ana coming soon!

Salsa in Prison?

Wow this is an interesting article found in www.deccanherald.com.

“Dancing away the woes
Vasumita S
Daniel Clifford, a salsa dancer and trainer conducted two-week salsa workshop for prison inmates at Central Prison Bangalore

For the many inmates at Central Prison Bangalore, salsa was not a term they may have been acquainted with before. But that is exactly what they got to enjoy and experience in the two-week salsa workshop that Daniel Clifford, a salsa dancer and trainer conducted for them recently. Daniel proposed this concept to the Additional Commissioner of Prison, H A R Ramesh. “The police department was very interested in my proposal, for they thought this kind of dance therapy can have a positive influence on the prisoners. The class itself turned out to be an amazing success, as more than 170 prisoners joined up for the workshop on the first day, and they were very interested in learning the dance technique,” says Daniel. The workshop that he conducted in January had a two-week course on salsa, samba, Cha Cha Cha and other Latin dance forms. The workshop was also filmed by BBC Worldwide.

Daniel has been a salsa dancer for almost 10 years now and has travelled to South Africa to professionally get trained in each of the dance forms. He has a dance school in Mumbai, and conducts short workshops in Bangalore too in association with Studio 5678. He says that dance is a medium that instills confidence in people. “Dance provides you with a platform to shed all your inhibitions, and learn to enjoy yourself. Also salsa is a very vigorous and vibrant dance that has immense health benefits too,” he says.

And for those of you planning on joining up the classes, Daniel says that joining the right dance school is most important. “Bangalore has a handful of certified talented salsa dance trainers. It is important that your trainer knows what you are looking for, else the satisfaction from learning the dance will not be there,” he says. Daniel himself is planning on a short workshop in Bangalore before heading off to South Africa for further training. The workshop will include a 10-day course for children and adults on salsa and other dances starting from April 10.”

Is this a good idea or not? I say why not. The power of dance is amazing and if it can benefit and really change someone’s life regardless of where they are or what they have done then great! Thoughts?

Ana’s Interview from Masacote

As discussed in my previous blog post last week Ana Tinajero Massicot from Masacote Entertainment, an international salsa instructor and performer, has given me some great advice to pass on to our readers. It is interesting to note that Ana’s answers are similar to Super Mario’s answers so this common thread may assist you to improve your dancing and inspire you to move to the next level.

Here is the first excerpt from the interview:

SG – “What is the most important piece of advice you can offer a person learning how to dance?”

ATM – “Have fun! Dancing is about having a good time. Many times people begin to take it too seriously and forget why they started in the first place. That doesn’t mean don’t work hard…The beauty of salsa is that it doesn’t matter how much you learn, there is always something MORE. It is a much more challenging dance than people think when they start out, so many times people let frustrations get the best of them and they give up.

Just work hard, practice hard, and focus, but when you step out on that dance floor, don’t forget that your Number One priority is to have fun and enjoy yourself.”

SG – “Are there any things students should avoid doing in their development?”

ATM – “Most students want to conquer the world in one day instead of finding a focus. I would recommend to focus on one timing…Be it on 1, on 2, on 3….But focus on one of them until you get comfortable with it. Then, begin to expand into other timings. Salsa is just a language with many dialects. There is some similarity between all the timings, but if you try to learn them all at once, you can easily confuse yourself. Try to find one focus, but once you are able to expand, definitely DO IT! You never want to limit your partners, so it is great to learn and understand all the other timings possible.

Also, try to avoid staying in a clique. That is the biggest mistake most people make…They take classes, meet people in the classes, go out as a group, and dance only with themselves. That creates 2 problems….1) You don’t get to learn the art of adaptation. Salsa is about learning to connect with people whom you’ve never danced with before. 2) The salsa scene grows into a nice little slump of a community. The more open people are with each other and the more interaction they have with others from the community, the more the salsa community can grow together and create a healthy environment for newcomers. Just sit back and watch it blossom. This invariably helps the dancers in the community grow too.

Of course, I’m not saying not to go out with friends. By all means, find a group of people to go out with, make it a group trip, and dance with each other at the clubs, but don’t just stick to dancing with each other. Branch out and dance with others you haven’t met before.”

More with Ana over the next few weeks. In the meantime, check out some videos of Ana on her website Masacote Entertainment.

So You Think You Can Dance Canada Details


Well auditions are in full blaze for the brand new show So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Last week the host and judges were announced. Here are some details for all the eager dance enthusiasts…

Leah Miller will host the show. For those who don’t know Leah she is a Much Music host and also has a dance background. According to the ctv.ca website Leah won the title of “Miss Junior Dance of Canada” when she was 13 and danced competitively until the age of 16. Leah also had the privildge of taking dance lessons with choreographer Keith “Tyce” Diorio who is a regular choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance.

As for judges there are 2 permanent judges and then alternating and guest judges.

Judge #1 Tré Armstrong (How She Move)
Judge #2 Jean Marc Genereux (guest choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance US)

Alternating Judge #3 Luther Brown (Hip Hop Choreographer)
Alternating Judge #3 Blake McGrath (was on So You Think You Can Dance Season #1)

Special Guest Judges

Rex Harrington (Ballet dancer)
Paul Becker (film choreographer)
Mary Murphy (SYTYCD judge)

So some great names on the roster – can’t wait to see the Canadian talent!

Ana Tinajero Massicot’s Interview With Me!


As I stated earlier I have contacted some of the great international salsa instructors to get some great advice and tips for our students. The next amazing performer and instructor to be featured on my blog is Ana Tinajero Massicot from Masacote Entertainment. If you have not seen her dance with her partner and husband Joel you are definitely missing out on a wonderful dancer!

Here is a very short bio on Ana as found on her website:

“Ana trained in folklórico, the traditional dance form of her Mexican culture, starting at the young age of 5. At the age of 15, she set foot for the first time in a salsa/merengue nightclub where she was exposed to what is known as “cumbia-style” salsa. She instantly fell in love with the dance, and it quickly became her passion.

Dance and education have always been intertwined in Ana’s life. After attending the 2nd Annual West Coast Salsa Congress, Ana found a new appreciation for the dance as an artform and was inspired to take it beyond a hobby, but not before she finished school.

During the fall of 2000, she moved from Dallas, TX to Boston, MA, where she majored in business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management. That fall she joined the MIT Casino Rueda performance group and remained with the group for the next 2 years. She also took a brief period of classes with the MIT Movements in Time Dance Company, a modern ballet and jazz group and has taken a periodic private with various mambo instructors to work on her salsa technique.

In November, Ana met Anara Frank, the director of a non-profit kid and adult dance organization called JAM’NASTICS, Inc. She joined the staff as a salsa instructor in January of 2001, teaching both children and adult classes.

Ana left JAM’NASTICS In 2003 when she moved for 6 months to Okinawa, Japan. There she co-founded Masacote Entertainment, a music, dance, and multimedia company, with her husband, Joel.

She has since graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in Management Science and has devoted herself full time to the entertainment company and dancing as a profession.

Ana dances and teaches both Salsa On 1 and Mambo On 2. She is excited to continue to challenge herself both mentally and physically in music and dance through working with the team at Masacote Entertainment.”

Over the next few weeks we will feature excerpts of our interview with Ana and provide advice and guidance for students learning to dance!

Peridot Last Night!

I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to go to a great venue to dance salsa with faces you love to see and professional, amazing staff and management who really care about your experience! That is exactly the experience we had Sunday night at Peridot Resto Lounge on Yonge & Bloor. They threw the doors open just for us and in return almost 300 people came out to dance the evening away.

A very short walk from the the subway station and with cheap $5 parking across at the Marriott, Peridot is very accessible. There are 2 floors with 3 main sections as well as a patio. We had 300ppl there almost and there was still space for more which was such a pleasant surprise!

There are 3 main rooms so we offered 3 lessons. Velina with Mildred as an assistant did the absolute beginner class, Emely and Sonya did the level 1 class and Evan and I did the intermediate class. Classes were very busy – hopefully everyone learned the combo and were able to practice it that evening to memorize.

Peridot kindly offered us gift certificates to give away and 2 lucky dancers received those. There was also a birthday dance for Tyrone, one of our helpers. All in all a great evening. Photos will be posted this week on our “events” page.

We look forward to visiting Peridot again very soon for our next Sunday outing!

Our Own New Studio – FINALLY

Dear Salsa Friends!

It has been a long time in the making but we are so excited to announce that Toronto Dance Salsa is finally moving into our own studio! We will be throwing our doors wide open June 1st, 2008, just in time to begin our summer semester.

Our gorgeous new studio is located in the heart of North York on Yonge Street between Finch and Sheppard at Empress Walk Mall right on top of the North York Civic Centre Subway. Parking is free for 1.5hrs for students in the underground parking. The studio is extremely large and airy at 1600 square feet!

We will still be holding classes downtown at the Adelaide Club and the Toronto Athletic Club so that we can provide convenience and flexibility to our downtown students.

We have just posted our summer schedule and registration is open inclusive of our new location called “Empress Walk”. For all the senior students who have been asking we have a level 6 class and a specialty styling class. Adelaide Classes will be posted very shortly.

For more information or to register please click on the following link:

http://www.torontodancesalsa.ca/salsa-classes.php

We will be holding regular weekly practice sessions at Empress Walk once we move in and will let you know the details as they come.

We look forward to welcoming you to our new home!

Sharon

W Channel Gives Us Dance Movies!

If you have been dreaming about a weekend of laying on the couch and relaxing with some great dance movies, then you are in luck! The W Channel (yes boys, that is the Women’s channel :) ) is having a dance-movie-a-thon weekend April 19th and 20th. Here are some movies and shows you can expect to see:

On Saturday April 19th:

4 PM
Mad Hot Ballroom

Hot from the Sundance Film Festival where it garnered massive critical acclaim, this engaging documentary follows a group of 11yr old street kids from Washington Heights (an urban New York City neighborhood) as they compete in a city wide ballroom dancing competition.

6:30 PM
Dirty Dancing (1987)

Chronicles social dancing’s place in the 60′s as experienced by one 17-year-old girl. Like the world at large, Frances “Baby” Houseman comes into her own in the summer of 1963, but in the most unlikely of places – Kellerman’s Mountain House is the Catskills, where she accompanies her family on summer vacation. One evening while exploring the grounds, Baby comes upon the staff’s all-night dance party. Amidst the excitement she discovers Johnny Castle, the resorts dance instructor. Overnight, her …

9 PM
Shall We Dance

Chicago lawyer John Clark knows his life is almost perfect. He loves his beautiful wife, he’s built a successful career and raised two wonderful kids. And yet . . . the workday is always the same routine, the commute is a grind and the family’s usually too busy to spend time together. Sometimes John wonders if this is all there is, until one evening on his way home from work he gets off his train and does the unthinkable. Without telling a soul, he secretly begins taking dance lesson…

11:30 PM
Hollywood’s 10 Best

S7, Episode #053 Hollywood’s 10 Best Dance Movies

An interesting look at Hollywood’s 10 Best Dance Movies from the movies of today and yesterday

On Sunday April 20th

4 PM
Shall We Dance

Chicago lawyer John Clark knows his life is almost perfect. He loves his beautiful wife, he’s built a successful career and raised two wonderful kids. And yet . . . the workday is always the same routine, the commute is a grind and the family’s usually too busy to spend time together. Sometimes John wonders if this is all there is, until one evening on his way home from work he gets off his train and does the unthinkable. Without telling a soul, he secretly begins taking dance lesson…

6:30 PM
Hollywood’s 10 Best

S7, Episode #053 Hollywood’s 10 Best Dance Movies

An interesting look at Hollywood’s 10 Best Dance Movies from the movies of today and yesterday.

7 PM
W Docs

You Should Be Dancing is a one hour documentary special that celebrates the recent popularity of dancing, by exploring the personal stories of people whose lives have been unexpectedly changed by dance for the better.

8 PM
Obsession.

New ballet teacher Reed Holloway takes a special interest in Erika, who is at first flattered with the teacher’s interest in her dancing. And Erika’s newly-divorced mother, Deborah, is pleased as well, as Deborah and Reed begin to date. But things turn sour when it becomes apparent that Reed is just using Deborah to get closer to Erika, as part of a carefully designed and diabolically executed plan. Erika, it turns out, reminds Reed of his late wife, and Reed is determined to have Erika take …

Hope this gives you some dance movie satisfaction. Happy watching!

More with Super Mario…

Last week I listed some questions I recently asked Super Mario, an international salsa instructor who is a favourite at the salsa congresses worldwide. Here are some additional questions I got a chance to talk to him about…

SG – “Are there any things students should avoid doing in their development?”

SM – “Yes, avoid being in a clique. That means just dancing with your level dancers. Stay away from group politics. ;)
Practice a lot and then more……
Query everything that has a doubt in your mind, that is what the teachers are for.
In a class, don’t criticize one another and please try your moves not with just one dance partner but with everyone.
Gain more knowledge of the music, the musicians and the instruments. It helps develop your skills faster.”

SG – “Are there any obstacles you can remember experiencing in your salsa development and how did you overcome these obstacles?”

SM – “I was doing the opposite to all of the above and in time I learned my lesson. They were not obstacles but just a learning curve. Back when I was learning salsa everyone was thinking in ONE DIMENSION and learning to move out of that was hard but very fun and entertaining. Now with so many tools to learn salsa faster (i.e DVDs, Internet, Congresses etc), there is no reason to stay on a ONE TRACK MIND.”

More questions and answers with Super Mario coming soon. Until then, check out his website and online classes at: www.salsaclass.tv. You can try a free online class!

Keep dancing!