What's That Dance
If you’re comfortable with partnering and want to move to the
rhythm of the beats, try salsa. It’s a great way to socialize, let loose and become a rhythm superstar!
With its mix of different dance styles, salsa is influenced by its Cuban roots, the American jazz scene and musicians from Colombia and Puerto Rico. It is non-restrictive and free flowing with the accompanying music ranging from fast and intense to slow and funky.
Photo by onlinesalsa via Flickr (CC)
Toronto-based salsa teacher Tina Nicolaidis says becoming a good salsa dancer is a realistic goal because it’s something everyone can do.
“You don’t need to have a certain body type or years of formal training to do it,” she says. “It’s not hard to learn because the more you do it, the less work it will be.”
While the attire for learning salsa can pretty much be anything (that is to say, anything you’ll be comfortable sweating in), it’s all about the shoes for this dance style. For women, something with a heel that has a strap around the ankle and a flexible sole (you don’t want your shoe to go flying in the air). For men, running shoes with a smooth bottom or dress shoes will do.
A typical beginner program is seven weeks long and will have no more than 26 people. Starting with individual footwork, beginners learn the five basic steps of salsa: the basic, side break, back break, open break, and turn. Moving on to partner work, dancers learn the arm and upper body positions (known as the frame), how to lead and follow, and the proper partner signals. After learning the basics, studios hit the salsa clubs as a group to practice what they’ve learned.
A word to the wise:
This dance can be addictive!
“There’s so much energy, the music is so upbeat, and you can find it anywhere –you can’t help but get hooked,” says Nicolaidis. “Many people say when they visit a city one of the things they have to do is go to a local salsa club.”
One of the big ballroom and salsa scenes in Canada is Montreal
where professional salsa dancers dance up a storm on the floor. If you’re in the Vancouver area, check out Salsa Vancouver
for their dance venues. Popular Toronto spots include Babalúu
, Acrobat Lounge
, and Lula Lounge
So grab your shoes and get those hips swaying for a fun night of salsa!
(Bonus: The whole movie can be viewed on YouTube in 10 parts)
This movie centres around Rico, a Puerto Rican dancer who dreams of winning the title of Salsa King in East L.A.
Introduced to the world of salsa as a teenager, Tina Nicolaidis was performing and teaching at 17. She continues teaching salsa among other dance styles and is the artistic director for City Dance Corps in Toronto.
By Jackielou Perez
(published August 20, 2010)