Salsa Dance - the Definitive Styles
The colorful explosion of Salsa dance is as diverse as the origins and influences from which it was created. The essence of Salsa is based on a number of quite independent yet interconnecting sub-styles. Each has its charms and thrills and they lend form and rhythm to one another. If you find joy in Salsa, you need not focus on which style you immerse yourself in- they are all related and they are all equally beautiful and enriching. To feel liberated, some would say, is the very reason we dance.
Salsa as a mixed form
Salsa by definition is a mix of different dance and music traditions. The elements that define it include timing, patterns of foot movement, sensuality, mood, music influences and the direction in which people dance. The way in which two (or more) dancers relate and move in relation to each other is at the very core of its beauty and structure. The break step is also central to its structure- the size of steps taken between and to, each beat of the sounds.
The eclectic aesthetics and music underpinning the Salsa tradition/s are diverse to say the very least. Therefore, the freedom we have to adapt and incorporate the following styles of Salsa is part of what makes this dance experience so magnificent and liberating. To feel liberated, some would say, is the very reason we dance. Therefore, let us not feel we have to adhere to one style- but move within and between them, quite literally.
The name reflects the origins and modern evolving of this style. It is central to the history of Salsa to the extent that Salsa would not be what it is without this incredible influence. Also referred to as Casino, it is a rite of passage and celebration in Cuban history and modern culture. The name Casino stems from the dance halls called Casinos Deportivos - largely frequented by relatively affluent white Cubans. However, this dance style has been central to cultural life for many Cubans regardless of social or economic heritage. Informal Salsa groups were (and are) as popular, if not more so, then the more formal halls from which the name Casino stems.
Cuban Salsa is stylistically unique in that it is not danced in a line like other forms. Rather, people dance in circles and move more freely. In some ways, it is seen as the most democratized aesthetic within Salsa due to the lack of lines and overt formal pattern of more traditional beat-following. Music beats are not adhered to - rather, they dance to only particular beats of their choosing- often the forth and the eighth, for example. It is often referred to as almost "free form" tango. This explanation is of the most loose forms- some sub-forms may well be more structured, depending on the locality and preference of the dancers. It is in many cases danced to in pairs. Some sub-styles of Cuban Tango have emerged in which the focus is dancing in groups. This is called Salsa Rueda or Casino Rueda.
This tangent of Salsa dance is primarily known to be originated in Cali, Columbia. It continues to be most practiced in Colombia, however its popularity is spreading globally along with the other styles. In particular, it stems from Pachanga and Boogaloo as founding influences. It is a fascinating display and celebration of excitement and energy due to the incredibly fast pace many dancers aspire to and enjoy. The more experienced dancers boast an elaborate array of technique grounded in speed, acrobatics and awe-inspiring precision. The music backdrop is often played at a faster pace than usual so to inspire greater speed among the dancers. Although precision and speed are central to this style, there is a renaissance of venues beckoning the less experienced dancers to practice and dance at a street- skill level rather than just skill based. It is, after all, the pursuit of joy that underpins Tango so you should try this exciting style!
New York style Tango
New York tango, also known as Mambo, emphasizes the dancing relationship between pairs. The movement focuses upon the "flat figure 8" turns and spins between the two. Sensuality in this style is deliciously obtained by close proximity and then the juxtaposition of separating into shines- where each member of the couple can engage in their footwork and technique before joining back together. The tension between merging and separating as dance partners is thrilling. It focuses on the subtle elegance of movement whilst being an exciting emersion into elegance and sensuality.
LA style Tango
Evident in the name, LA style Tango emerged there, among the ethno-minorities and pleasure seekers hungry for a release of energy and social buzz. The style is defined by the dramatization of movement and the improvisation of exciting technique. At its technical height, this is a dizzying, almost dramatic art form. At a street level, it is an exciting way to accentuate and express one's love of music and Tango. Latin Swing and Ballroom dancing underpin the history of its formation and style.