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Salsa Dancing Pros and Cons
SALSA PROS AND CONS
Let me tell you up-front. It ain’t what you think. One
question, who’s a pro in salsa, produces a multitude of opinions. Like in the
famous fable, everybody’s pulling the cart in different directions: fish towards
the water; bird towards the sky and wolf - into the woods. Some say it’s whom
WE recognize as pros; some think none of them, some say clave is the key and
some suggest creating standards for salsa pros and co...sorry,- amateurs.
Guidelines similar to ballroom rules based on dancing as
sport were floating in the air.
Dancing treated like sport? Dance-sport is an oxymoron!
(The sport being the moron part, no offense). For hundreds of years dancing was
considered an art form in every corner of the globe. It’s enough that
ice-skating is part of the Olympics, but even here there’s a separate score for
Ballroom dancing does have Latin and Swing categories, but
they’re so far removed from the original street creations, nobody even treats
them as such anymore. Unlike ballet, jazz and other professional dance forms -
salsa, and tango, and samba and swing and later tap, hip-hop and breakdancing
are all truly folk creations born on the streets. Yes, some of them, like
hip-hop and tap, invaded the stage thanks to their mainstream popularity. Even
breakdancing with its acrobatic features and almost no relation to music is
considered a dance. But I digress.
Before we can even discuss who’s a salsa pro, we got to
face the music. In spite of its worldwide popularity, or maybe because of it,
salsa is a SOCIAL dance first and foremost. It is not a performance dance in
America. It is not a “professional” dance like jazz or ballet where people train
for that since childhood in schools and universities where they are admitted,
tested and degreed as professionals in their field of study and training. One
can almost always recognize a professionally trained dancer in salsa troupes.
As good as the other salseros might be, there’s still a gap in quality visible
to all especially in shines. That’s why, among other factors, salsa in its
present level of performance is rarely seen on stage, even in Latin music shows.
Who do you think is dancing in top-of-the-line hip-hop performances? Street
hip-hoppers? No, mostly professional dancers who learn the hip-hop moves
presented to them by professional choreographers. How many top salseros would be
able to pass auditions for mainstream dance shows? Think about it.
So discussing who’s a pro on this level is like milling
water, it’s a “moo-point” like Joey from Friends once said (he meant moot). Does
it mean those with passion for salsa should just forget about it? Absolutely
not! Here’s a chance for all folks who have the drive and persistence to push
salsa into the mainstream art form. Creation of official bodies governing the
dance should come at the top of the pyramid after the foundation has been laid
and solidified. Some suggestions to pursue: schools of all levels that offer
salsa credits to its dance students; creation of professional dance troupes
selecting the best graduates; introduce salsa music and patterns to existing
professional performing dance companies etc. etc. Is it possible? An uphill
battle, that’s for sure. Is it necessary? That’s a whole other pot of tea.
Having said that, we can still decide what it means to be a
pro in the salsa world. Why doesn’t anybody look up the word in his Webster’s? I
ain’t gonna tell ya, besides, every dictionary will have differences in
Or here’s a thought: maybe we should just all relax and
leave salsa to what it always meant to be: a social dance for all in all its
forms and variations. We can all have fun and dance or we can continue raising
storms in a teapot. Your choice.
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